We’ve come to the final day of round robin play in the Red Group here at the ATP Finals, and there are two very different matches for our viewing pleasure on Friday.
While Novak Djokovic has already qualified, he will still meet one of his biggest rivals on tour in Daniil Medvedev, who is playing for pride at this point after losing his first two matches in Torino.
That won’t be the only rivalry renewed, as Stefanos Tsitsipas and Andrey Rublev will meet yet again with the last spot in the semis on the line.
Daniil Medvedev (+240) vs. Novak Djokovic (-330)
8 a.m. ET
As I noted before, this is a meaningless match for Djokovic. He’s won his first two matches here in Turin in straight sets and will advance to the semifinals regardless of what happens.
I don’t think Djokovic will tank this match, nor do I think he will necessarily lose. What I do think is that the intensity will be slightly lessened with two big matches ahead in the coming days, and that will allow Medvedev a chance to compete.
The Russian is out of the running in Turin after losing both of his first two matches, but like Rafael Nadal on Thursday, he is seeking a win to end his season on a positive note.
Medvedev did win a tournament just a few weeks ago but has had a bizarre few months where he’s struggled to win and has struggled to stay completely healthy. He failed to defeat bitter rival Tsitsipas on Wednesday and will surely be the man who wants this more.
The 2021 US Open champion has won a set in all but two matches he’s played against Djokovic. One was back in 2017 on grass, which makes sense considering Medvedev was still developing as a player and had hardly played any grass-court tennis. The other was the final of the 2021 Australian Open, which came at Djokovic’s best tournament and which marked Medvedev’s second-ever Grand Slam final.
It’s easy to see why he struggled on those two occasions, and then there are nine other matches which have been played between the two where Medvedev’s been able to win at least one set. I think he will do so again here after showing some positive signs against Tsitsipas.
Pick: Medvedev +1.5 Sets (-105 via DraftKings)
Stefanos Tsitsipas (-145) vs. Andrey Rublev (+115)
3 p.m. ET
These two have played 12 times, with Tsitsipas coming out the victor in seven of those matches. One was played here last year at the ATP Finals amidst one of the worst runs of Tsitsipas’ career, and that was the only match in the last four that Rublev has been able to take.
Rublev will be taking on Tsitsipas in arguably one of the best runs of his career. The Greek has now beaten Medvedev on two straight occasions and taken Djokovic to the brink at a Masters 1000 in recent months, and he’s really found his game indoors with a trip to the final in two tournaments over his last three.
Tsitsipas is really playing some excellent tennis. He’s hitting his backhand with more confidence than I’ve seen in a while and serving incredibly well. He was able to land 75% of his first serves against Medvedev and win 83% of those points, which says a lot given Medvedev’s standing as one of the top returners in the world.
Rublev, on the other hand, is playing some great tennis but is really struggling on serve. This was exposed by Djokovic, who absolutely punished the Russian’s poor second serve. Rublev won just 35% of his points behind the second serve against Djokovic in his last match, and he landed only 55% of his first serves.
The Rublev second serve is the weakest shot in this tournament, and I think Tsitsipas will take full advantage. He was really challenged on return by Medvedev’s devastating serve, and this match will represent a let-off against a significantly worse server.
Tsitsipas should be a heavier favorite than this given his level at the moment, and I’ll happily pay up a bit to back him.
Pick: Tsitsipas ML (-145 via DraftKings)
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