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Stuart Dalgleish 20th Mar 2011 - 13:00

It’s no Djoke, Novak’s heading to number one

Rafael Nadal v Novak Djokovic - 20:10 live on William Hill TV

There can be little doubt that Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal's (Evens) rivalry is one of the best in sporting history, but Novak Djokovic (8/11) is the one that's challenging Rafa now and it might not be long before he overtakes him at the top of the rankings.

The Serb has had a phenomenal year so far, winning all his 17 matches claiming two titles along the way, one of them of course being the Australian Open where he beat Andy Murray.

Murray seems to be a bit of a forgotten man now, for a while you had the 'big four' of Nadal, Federer, Djokovic and Murray; but the Scot's game is nowhere near the level of the other three right now, and you can't see him challenging for the majors when the others are playing like they are.

I think the reason is that Djokovic has found that extra level you need to beat the big players in big matches; so often before Djokovic would have a great run in a tournament but Federer or Nadal would show them who's boss when they played each other.

Well that's changed for Novak now when he faces Federer; the Serb has beaten him three times this year and will take his number two spot when the latest rankings are released tomorrow.

Djokovic is yet, however, to beat Nadal in a final; Rafa has won all five previous matches when they've faced one another in finals, including at Indian Wells in 2007 and more recently at the US Open last year.

The Spaniard enjoys a fantastic head-to-head record over Nole in other matches too though, not just in finals, he has a 16-7 lead over Djokovic and hasn't lost to him since he was short of fitness at the O2 in the 2009 World Tour Finals.

A whole lot has changed since that match, Nadal enjoyed his best season in 2010 winning three Grand Slams and plenty of other tournaments too, he is a better all-round player now and Djokovic will have to be at his best again to get past the world number one.

Juan Martin del Potro found that out yesterday; it's great to see the big Argentine back after a year injured, but he saw the level that Nadal is operating at, and he too knows that there's a long way to go yet before he gets back to the top five or so.

It's why I'd be tempted to take the Evens on Rafa in this one; let's be honest, Djokovic has had an incredible run, no doubt about that, but it's going to end some day so why not against the best player in the planet?

You're not going to get Evens on Nadal again for a while, especially if he wins this match.

It should be a tight affair though as it always seems to be between the pair, I'd look at 3 sets in the match at 23/20, and why not have a punt on a player to lose the first set but still win the match? You can get 11/2 on both players to come from behind and win the match.

If I was to punt on Djokovic, I'd bet on the set betting markets, 2-1 to the Serb seems a good shout at 11/4, Rafa is 3/1 to win it in three.

Make sure you're by your computer at 20:10 when the action gets underway as William Hill TV screens this game for you live and for free.



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