Djokovic can be opposed now

November 4th, 2016 | Ian Carnaby's Sports News

Every now and then you see something in sport which leaves your heart feeling a little heavier. I would bet quite strongly that we have seen the best of Novak Djokovic and, when Andy Murray takes over as world number one, there will be little to disturb him for a few years.

Djokovic is all over the place. With the remarkable native ability he has, his demise will not be apparent to many. But Marin Cilic was always going to beat him at Bercy and still came through despite wasting two match points. Djokovic’s body language (to use a modern term) suggests he has had enough of the game; urging the crowd to rally round when he staves off defeat with a reminder of the fairly recent past merely underlines the fact that he knows his star is fading. In fact, he is bored.

And why wouldn’t he be? There is nothing left to win, he’s been at the top for several years and it’s all repetition from now on. Federer and Nadal aren’t as good as they were, either, but you have the feeling they live for tennis whereas Djokovic gives the impression that there is something else waiting to fill the long, lonely hours of practice, practice, practice and psyched up competition when he really doesn’t feel psyched up at all.

In the women’s game Petra Kvitova, twice a Wimbledon champion, is similar. Only slightly older than the young pretenders, she might almost be an elder stateswoman, not one of the girls at all until it’s all over and the years drop away. This is a betting column, of course, and we needn’t indulge my affection for two great players. But I will tell you now that if you follow tennis closely and have a mind to go on supporting Djokovic and Kvitova, you will lose a lot of money.

Anyway, on to football and last week’s results made it five winning bets from the last six. I’m not sure how Norwich managed to draw a blank in the 5-0 thrashing at Brighton and the only comfort I drew from the result was the even stronger feeling that Newcastle face few realistic threats in the Championship.

More and more I feel that Liverpool and Chelsea will benefit from missing out on European competition. Liverpool were electric and very, very quick against Palace, while Chelsea easily accounted for a very handy Southampton side.

At St Mary’s, we used to worry about Pochettino’s priorities and he once let an FA Cup-tie at Sunderland slip away when the home team wasn’t even all that bothered. Spurs are in a tricky position; if they want to make progress in the Champions League it’ll be an all-out battle from now on. If, on the other hand, they slip out, that may represent their best chance of troubling the two teams mentioned above. If I could make a more confident selection than those that appear on these pages, I’d say rank and file Tottenham supporters would rather win the Premier League and maybe yer man knows that.

Liverpool should beat Watford pretty easily at the weekend but I won’t bet or tip at prohibitive odds-on, so Man City v Middlesbrough goes by the board, as well. Southampton should not be backed at odds-on when they visit Hull because it will gradually become more and more difficult for Claude Puel to rotate a limited squad. The win over Inter Milan was hard earned and the Saints have done very well but 5/1 Hull with Betfred is actually too big because this is definitely the right time to take on the visitors.

As I’ve been saying, David Moyes will turn Sunderland around if the board gives him a chance. I wouldn’t back Bournemouth at odds-on to beat them and the only two bets that occur in the top section are the games between Burnley and Crystal Palace and West Ham and Stoke ending as draws.

Bristol City v Brighton will be fascinating with the future in mind and I’m inclined to put them in doubles and a treble with those two matches, while I’ve no idea why several firms are offering 4/9 about Newcastle beating Cardiff. Yes, the irascible, filthy-tempered Neil Warniock will re-shape Cardiff’s season because he really is that clever, but there will be little joy here for the simple reason that Newcastle are different class.

3 x 15 unit doubles and a 15 unit treble, these games to end as draws:
Burnley v C Palace
West Ham v Stoke
Bristol City v Brighton
40 units at 4/9 NEWCASTLE to beat Cardiff

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