After running through the footage from the Couacoud match, the comments after the game, and the form of Grigor Dimitrov overall, I am more than comfortable making a play at the current odds here.
Regardless of the severity of the issue, there is clearly something that is hampering the hamstring of Novak Djokovic. When we have seen Novak having his moments on court in the past, they have been a little non-descript, by which I mean he hasn’t looked to be hampered by a specific physical issue, but has been at odds with the conditions on court, and it’s been a little confusing to watch over the years. With that being said, we also know that Novak is that much better than everyone else, that on the one occasion where he did injure a specific muscle group, a couple of years ago at the Australian Open, that we was able to adapt and modify his movement and shot selection and still be a force. I’m not entirely sure the modifications that were made in that instance a couple of years ago can be made in the same way here with his hamstring against Grigor Dimitrov.
Much like Taylor Fritz a couple of years ago, it seemed as though Couacoud wasn’t quite aware of how to best exploit what was happening at the other end of the court. He didn’t display any major variety of any kind, didn’t use the dropshot to good effect and didn’t pressure Novak on the backhand wing, where he was having difficulty employing his open stance backhand at end range. Part of the appeal of Novak is his incredible movement, particularly at end range, and I think the drift in the outright market is well and truly justified given Novak needs to beat Dimitrov, (most likely) De Minaur and potentially Rune just to get out of the quarter. It is going to be a physically demanding period for Novak.
I think Grigor has the tools to be a genuine challenge here. He has a solid serve, and has the experience of playing some big matches on Rod Laver Arena across the course of his career. He has a slice that can not only be used as a rally neutralising tool, but will force Novak into more uncomfortable positions in backhand to backhand exchanges, and he has the movement to extend rallies and turn this into more of a grind.
I also think he has the experience to deal with the player at the other end of the court potentially having moments of uncertainty, as he has been in this situation before. He faced Roger Federer at the US Open years ago, and in similar circumstances was not only able to turn the match into a grind, but also capitalise on the issues Federer was going through with his back.
Another option is to stay out of this match and keep an eye on the early stages of the match, however I think there is more than enough in the current price to jump in and make a play on Dimitrov. Over 5 sets in the conditions tonight, I’m more than comfortable making a play here. If staking up at long odds is something you are not comfortable with, other options are to drop the staking, or watch and wait to see how the match starts.
2 units Dimitrov to defeat Djokovic at $5.30 at Betfair minus commission ($5.20 at Unibet, $5.22 Pinnacle, also $6 at Bet365 but they do void in case of retirement)
Over 18s Only (21+ in some jurisdictions). 1 unit = 1% of bankroll. Please enjoy your betting responsibly. Never bet more than you can afford to lose, and do not chase a loss.