After 24 weeks out of competition, Novak Djokovic returns to action as he faces a player he’s dominated in the…
After 24 weeks out of competition, Novak Djokovic returns to action as he faces a player he’s dominated in the past at the Cincinnati Masters, played this year in New York.
Novak Djokovic vs Ricardas Berankis | ATP Cincinnati-New York Masters R2Under 19.5 total games 7/10 Bet Now! New Customers only. 18+. T&C’s Apply. begambleaware.org.
Djokovic vs Berankis is live from Cincinnati on Monday 24 August
Novak Djokovic brings a perfect 18-0 record in 2020 and a 21-match winning streak into his first match since 29 February, when he defeated Stefanos Tsitsipas to win the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships.
Djokovic will be playing behind closed doors at the home of the US Open as he takes on Lithuanian journeyman Ricardas Berankis, who managed a handful of games in their only previous meeting.
Read on for our preview, predictions and live streaming information.
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Djokovic vs Berankis: Head-to-head
Djokovic beat Berankis 6-1, 6-2, 6-2 in their only previous meeting, which took place at the US Open in 2013.
Djokovic vs Berankis: Preview
The world no. 1 back on court and back to doing what he does best: It’s a thrilling prospect for tennis fans, but it’s not necessarily easy to know what to expect, either. It’s been just under six months since Djokovic last played an ATP Tour match, and a couple since he even played an exhibition match after participants testing positive for COVID-19 brought Djokovic’s Adria Tour to an abrupt end.
Djokovic was certainly in superlative form before the shutdown, winning his first 18 matches of the season to capture a record eighth Australian Open title despite the best efforts of Dominic Thiem, claim the Dubai title for the fifth time and lead Serbia to victory at the ATP Cup, to boot. Cincinnati has always been his least successful Masters (by his own insanely high standards), with Djokovic finally taking the title in 2018 after five runner-up finishes to complete the career Masters Slam; but circumstances, timing and venue are so different in 2020 that past performance offers little to go on.
Djokovic hasn’t had too many lengthy injury breaks in his career, but the 33-year-old has become adept at calibrating every aspect of his existence to optimize his on-court performance and he would not be playing the Western & Southern Open and the US Open if he did not have informed reason to believe that he will be in a position to play something in the region of his best tennis.
Probably the biggest question marks for Djokovic are how his body will adjust to the rigours of competition, on the one hand, and how quickly it will take the ATP’s most formidable returner to re-hone his reflexes.
Ricardas Berankis has one advantage: He has match-fitness after playing his way through qualifying with wins over Alejandro Davidovich Fokina and Yasutaka Uchiyama, and gutting out a tough victory over wildcard Tommy Paul 6-7(4), 6-4, 7-5 to reach the second round. The compact Lithuanian reached a career-high ranking of world no. 50 in May 2016 after winning three Challenger Tour titles during the preceding 12 months and has made two ATP Tour career finals, but he is 2-10 against top-10 players and both victories came against Milos Raonic on indoor hard courts. Djokovic outdoors is a different proposition. Even if the Serb is rusty, Berankis has little in his counter-punching game with which to puncture the supreme defense of Djokovic.
Djokovic is so rightly favoured in this match that it’s difficult to find value, but a straightforward win for the world no. 1 is indicated.