Hollywoodbets Sports Blog: 2020 ATP Tour: Nitto ATP Finals

2020 ATP Tour: Nitto ATP Finals



We take a look at the Selected Round Robin Matches from the Nitto ATP Finals taking place at O2 Arena, London (Indoor Hardcourt).

Photo Copyright - Steve Haag Sports

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O2 Arena, London (Indoor Hardcourt)
Nitto ATP Finals
Selected Round Robin Matches- 17th November

Dominic Thiem (8/13) vs Andrey Rublev (5/4)
This should be a slightly bizarre spectacle, with Thiem already topping the group while Rublev has zero chance of qualification.  This is the very epitome of a dead rubber. Still, I’m sure that Rublev will want to continue with the improvement he has shown as the week has progressed. A five-time winner this year, Rublev’s opening performance against Nadal reeked of naivety. But he really elevated his performance with a much-improved display against Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas. He even had a match-point, serving at 6-5 in the 3rd set tiebreaker.  But his inexperience was once again on full display as he double-faulted. That heart-breaking defeat was a rather anticlimactic end to what has been a glorious season for Rublev. Perhaps victory here will give the Rublev naysayers something to think about going into next season.  

US Open Champion Dominic Thiem was simply sensational against Rafa Nadal. He came through for me big time in one of his greatest ever performances. The truth was this: Nadal played some brilliant tennis. It was some of the most composed indoor tennis I have ever seen from the Spaniard. He mixed up his game well and used the serve-and-volley technique exquisitely.  But the Austrian was just in indominable form, taking his groundstrokes early and forcing the Spaniard back. I think it’s probably fair to say that Dominic Thiem could be the best indoor player in the world at present. Federer is obviously waning to some degree while Djokovic’s defeat to Medvedev was emphatic. The conundrum facing Thiem in this match is that of consequence. There’s little point in him getting involved in a three-set war (especially when you look at his minor injury concerns in Paris).  

These two are tied at 2-2 in their head-to-head meetings. Rublev won their last encounter on the indoor hardcourts of Vienna recently. Thiem also lost to Rublev in the quarterfinals of Hamburg a few years ago.  So, despite everything I said about Thiem earlier, I think there’s value in a Rublev win here. This match is meaningless to Thiem whilst Rublev has a point to prove.

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Rafael Nadal (2/5) vs Stefanos Tsitsipas (2/1)
This is what these ATP Finals are all about. A winner-takes-all contest that has plenty hinging on it. Nadal came into this tournament desperate to augment his indoor hardcourt credentials with a maiden ATP Finals victory (I know, I still can’t believe that either). His semi-final run in Paris was encouraging. But his Rublev victory was ominous. His taxing straight-sets defeat to Thiem was not without its positives. I think Nadal played as well in that match as I have seen recently- on this surface.  Thiem was simply brilliant. Nadal should be hugely encouraged coming up against an opponent he plays so well. Nadal is able to dominate Tsitsipas’ single-handed backhand with his characteristic crosscourt forehands. If he plays near the level from that Thiem match he should persevere. 

Stefanos Tsitsipas was one point away from becoming the first ATP Finals Champ since David Nalbandian to lose his first two round matches. Defending champion Tsitsipas has been in poor form on indoor hardcourts this year. Second-round losses in Vienna and Paris were followed by an opening round defeat to Thiem here. He just seems to have lost a step this season. He looks moody and distracted on court.  As I noted earlier, Tsitsipas will need to do more with his backhand than usual to succeed here. One technical glitch in his make-up is a slice backhand that has neither the depth nor the penetration of, say, Federer. On these true hard surfaces, it is just cannon fodder for Nadal. He will need to be ultra-aggressive on his forehand and serve tremendously well.  

Nadal holds an imperious 5-1 head-to-head record over the Greek. Their last meeting actually came in this event last year (which Nadal went on to win in three sets). But that was a different Tsitsipas. I’m sure there will be other times that the Greek will beat the Spaniard. But I don’t think this is one of those occasions.  Nadal should in win in straight sets at 1/1.  

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