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4pts win Novak Djokovic at 13/8

1pt e.w. Andrey Rublev at 10/1

Nitto ATP Finals

  • London, United Kingdom (indoor hard)

Since arriving in 2009, the ATP Finals have attracted around 250,000 fans annually to the O2 Arena.

The tournament ends its 12-year run in London over the next week, a fact that will make it particularly sad to see the world’s best players compete in a cavernous arena devoid of spectators.

In these strange times, the players are beginning to get used to such atmospheres now but punters also need to consider how the ‘new normal’ changes things.

Most importantly, 17,000 fewer people inside the arena will mean colder, slower conditions.

Covid-19 has also meant less tennis in 2020 and that might turn out to be a good thing for this tournament.

Players have often arrived fatigued in the past, struggling with the effects of a long, hard season.

That’s almost certainly been a factor in the event producing three surprise winners in the past three years, namely Grigor Dimitrov, Alex Zverev and Stefanos Tsitsipas.

But this year has been much different, every contender having had unexpected time off. Hopefully that is reflected in the quality of the matches in the coming days.

As ever, the eight-man field has been split into two groups of four. The top two in each will progress to the weekend’s semi-finals.

Time for an in-depth look at those eight players…


Novak Djokovic

  • Best odds: Title – 13/8; Win group – evens; Qualify for SFs – 2/7
  • World ranking (at Nov 9): 1
  • 2020 win-loss record: 39-3 (4 titles – Australian Open, Rome, Cincinnati, Dubai (also won ATP Cup with Serbia))
  • 2020 win-loss v top 10: 7-1
  • 2020 indoor record: 2-1 – QF Vienna
  • Tournament record (in London since 2009): 36-14 – Gp 19, RU 18, RU 16, W 15, W 14, W 13, W 12, Gp 11, SF 10, Gp 09, W 08, Gp 07
  • Recent form: QF Vienna

Record v group opponents:

v Medvedev – overall: 4-2; indoor hard: 1-0; 2020: 1-0
v Zverev – overall: 3-2; indoor hard: 1-1; 2020: 0-0
v Schwartzman – overall: 5-0; indoor hard: 0-0; 2020: 2-0

However he performs in London, Djokovic will end 2020 as the world’s best player once again.

He may have won ‘only’ one of the three Grand Slam titles on offer but he’s still fully deserving of his top ranking having amassed a 39-3 win-loss record.

Two of those defeats were self-inflicted – a default at the US Open and a performance which, putting it kindly, frankly lacked focus in Vienna. The other came at the hands of the greatest claycourter of all time, Rafael Nadal, in the French Open final.

That was the Serb’s only loss to a top-10 player this season.

Djokovic loves playing indoors and he won here four years in a row from 2012 to 2015. However, he’s failed to claim the trophy on his last three visits and it’s rather surprising to note that he’s been victorious at just one of his last seven indoor tournaments.

Still, he holds a winning record against all three group opponents here and looks the man they all have to beat.

Daniil Medvedev

  • Best odds: Title – 11/2; Win group – 3/1; Qualify for SFs – 4/7
  • World ranking: 4
  • 2020 win-loss record: 23-10 (1 title – Paris)
  • 2020 win-loss v top 10: 2-2
  • 2020 indoor record: 9-4 – W Paris, QF Vienna, L16 St Petersburg, QF Marseille, L32 Rotterdam
  • Tournament record: 0-3 – Gp 19
  • Recent form: W Paris, QF Vienna, L16 St Petersburg

Record v group opponents:

v Djokovic – overall: 2-4; indoor hard: 0-1; 2020: 0-1
v Zverev – overall: 2-5; indoor hard: 1-2; 2020: 1-0
v Schwartzman – overall: 4-0; indoor hard: 2-0; 2020: 2-0

After a spectacular 2019, there’s little doubt 2020 has been rather underwhelming for Medvedev. Join the club, mate.

However, he may be running into form at just the right time.

Having gone more than a year without a title, during which time he racked up a poor 4-9 win-loss record indoors, Medvedev returned to winners’ circle in Paris earlier this month – ideal preparation for this season-ending finale.

He beat group rival Zverev in the final in Paris and has always tested Djokovic when they’ve met – he’s won at least a set in five of their six meetings.

Loves to mix things up with changes of pace and his awkward game style could pay dividends.

Alex Zverev

  • Best odds: Title – 7/1; Win group – 4/1; Qualify for SFs – evens
  • World ranking: 7
  • 2020 win-loss record: 27-9 (2 titles – Cologne II, Cologne I)
  • 2020 win-loss v top 10: 2-4
  • 2020 indoor record: 12-1 – RU Paris, W Cologne II, W Cologne I
  • Tournament record: 7-5 – SF 19, W 18, Gp 17
  • Recent form: RU Paris, W Cologne II, W Cologne I

Record v group opponents:

v Djokovic – overall: 2-3; indoor hard: 1-1; 2020: 0-0
v Medvedev – overall: 5-2; indoor hard: 2-1; 2020: 0-1
v Schwartzman – overall: 2-2; indoor hard: 2-0; 2020: 1-0

Zverev was the surprise winner here two years ago but he’s yet to win a bigger title having lost September’s US Open final in spectacular fashion.

He has responded well to that loss, winning 12 consecutive matches indoors, a run taking in two titles in his native Germany. However, he only had to beat two top-40 players to win those trophies and most recently there was another disappointing final collapse, this time against Medvedev in Paris.

Double faults have hindered his game at key moments throughout the year with most opponents now realising his second serve is a major weakness.

Off-court problems continue to dog him, too. Zverev is bound to be quizzed again in London about domestic abuse allegations which surfaced recently. He has denied them but it must be considered a hinderance to his title hopes. At least there will be no fans inside the O2 – in the circumstances that has to be a good thing for the former champion.

Diego Schwartzman

  • Best odds: Title – 33/1; Win group – 12/1; Qualify for SFs – 7/2
  • World ranking: 9
  • 2020 win-loss record: 25-12 (0 titles)
  • 2020 win-loss v top 10: 2-7
  • 2020 indoor record: 5-2 – QF Paris, RU Cologne II
  • Tournament record: Debut
  • Recent form: QF Paris, RU Cologne II

Record v group opponents:

v Djokovic – overall: 0-5; indoor hard: 0-0; 2020: 0-2
v Medvedev – overall: 0-4; indoor hard: 0-2; 2020: 0-2
v Zverev – overall: 2-2; indoor hard: 0-2; 2020: 0-1

Qualifying for the ATP Finals for the first time has been a fine achievement for the diminutive Argentine but it’s hard to see him making much impact on a field of his quality.

He’s gone 2-7 against top-10ers this season and while the two wins were against Messrs Nadal and Thiem, both came on clay.

None of his three ATP titles has come indoors, although he has made four finals, usually when the conditions have been sluggish. The lack of fans could therefore work in his favour. His strength is getting plenty of balls back in play, be it on his excellent return of serve or lengthening rallies with his strong defence, so he won’t mind in being slower than it might have been.

You could therefore argue he’s overpriced but Schwartzman is a worrying 2-11 against his group opponents (0-5 in 2020) with both Djokovic and Medvedev dominant against him.


Rafael Nadal

  • Best odds: Title – 6/1; Win group – 2/1; Qualify for SFs – 8/11
  • World ranking: 2
  • 2020 win-loss record: 25-5 (2 titles – French Open, Acapulco)
  • 2020 win-loss v top 10: 1-3
  • 2020 indoor record: 3-1 – SF Paris
  • Tournament record (in London since 2009): 18-14 – Gp 19, Gp 17, SF 15, RU 13, Gp 11, RU 10, Gp 09, SF 07, SF 06
  • Recent form: SF Paris

Record v group opponents:

v Thiem – overall: 9-5; indoor hard: 0-0; 2020: 0-1
v Tsitsipas – overall: 5-1; indoor hard: 1-0; 2020: 0-0
v Rublev – overall: 1-0; indoor hard: 0-0; 2020: 0-0

Nadal has never won the ATP Finals – in London or elsewhere. In fact, his only indoor hardcourt title came more than 15 years ago in Madrid.

While the Spaniard can never be written off, the fact is indoor conditions simply don’t suit his game.

At least this year he doesn’t arrive fatigued after a long, hard season, but he has landed in a highly competitive group. While Nadal holds a winning record against each of his group opponents, he hasn’t beaten any of them in 2020 and all of them will fancy their chances against him at the O2.

Nadal has won only one match against a top-10 player this season – Djokovic in the French Open final, a victory which achieved his post-lockdown goal.

He’s suffered four group exits in seven visits to the O2 where it has often been a struggle. Another wouldn’t be a major surprise, despite what the odds say.

Dominic Thiem

  • Best odds: Title – 8/1; Win group – 5/2; Qualify for SFs – 4/5
  • World ranking: 3
  • 2020 win-loss record: 22-7 (1 title – US Open)
  • 2020 win-loss v top 10: 5-2
  • 2020 indoor record: 2-1 – QF Vienna
  • Tournament record: 6-8 – RU 19, Gp 18, Gp 17, Gp 16
  • Recent form: QF Vienna

Record v group opponents:

v Nadal – overall: 5-9; indoor hard: 0-0; 2020: 1-0
v Tsitsipas – overall: 4-3; indoor hard: 0-1; 2020: 0-0
v Rublev – overall: 2-2; indoor hard: 1-1; 2020: 0-1

Last year’s runner-up arrives in London this time as a Grand Slam champion having broken his duck at the US Open.

Indeed, he has saved his best for the big events in 2020. As well as winning in New York, he made the final of the Australian Open (losing in five sets to Djokovic) and the quarter-finals of Roland Garros where he was a tie-break away from beating Schwartzman.

In the grand scheme of things, that was a disappointing result but perhaps understandable coming, as it did, so quickly after his US triumph.

Thiem has since also failed to defend his Vienna title and notably struggled with a foot blister – described by his physio as “not typical” – during that event.

The Austrian spoke about how the indoor conditions has exacerbated the problem, concluding that “the indoor season is still very tough for me”.

That’s not what potential backers want to hear.

Stefanos Tsitsipas

  • Best odds: Title – 14/1; Win group – 13/2; Qualify for SFs – 5/4
  • World ranking: 6
  • 2020 win-loss record: 28-12 (1 title – Marseille)
  • 2020 win-loss v top 10: 1-2
  • 2020 indoor record: 6-3 – L32 Paris, L16 Vienna, W Marseille, L16 Rotterdam
  • Tournament record: 4-1 – W 19
  • Recent form: L32 Paris, L16 Vienna

Record v group opponents:

v Nadal – overall: 1-5; indoor hard: 0-1; 2020: 0-0
v Thiem – overall: 3-4; indoor hard: 1-0; 2020: 0-0
v Rublev – overall: 2-2; indoor hard: 1-0; 2020: 1-1

The Greek is back to defend the title he won 12 months ago but form coming into the event suggests he faces an uphill struggle to keep his grip on the trophy.

Tsitsipas made the semis of the French Open where he gave Novak Djokovic a big fright but since the tour moved indoors, he’s won only one of three matches, suffering early exits in both Vienna and Paris.

A leg injury can perhaps explain that but that’s been a long-running issue, one which returned in Paris. At the time it left Tsitsipas questioning whether he’d even be able to play here.

For all the talent of the 22-year-old – he’s again the youngest player in the field – backing him to repeat is a gamble in more ways than one.

Andrey Rublev

  • Best odds: Title – 10/1; Win group – 11/4; Qualify for SFs – 4/5
  • World ranking: 8
  • 2020 win-loss record: 40-8 (5 titles – Vienna, St Petersburg, Hamburg, Adelaide, Doha)
  • 2020 win-loss v top 10: 3-3
  • 2020 indoor record: 13-2 – L16 Paris, W Vienna, W St Petersburg, QF Rotterdam
  • Tournament record: Debut
  • Recent form: L16 Paris, W Vienna, W St Petersburg

Record v group opponents:

v Nadal – overall: 0-1; indoor hard: 0-0; 2020: 0-0
v Thiem – overall: 2-2; indoor hard: 1-1; 2020: 1-0
v Tsitsipas – overall: 2-2; indoor hard: 0-1; 2020: 1-1

Having won a tour-leading five titles and somehow played 48 matches during this much-reduced season, Rublev will make his debut at this prestigious event.

Three of those wins have come since August’s resumption – he’s arguably the man in the best form coming in.

He’s been playing indoors for weeks, winning titles in St Petersburg and Vienna before his 11-match winning run was snapped by Stan Wawrinka in Paris. That may well turn out to be a good thing – he’s now had a good rest and should be ready for one final push.

Rublev has already beaten Thiem and Tsitsipas this season and with the power he can generate from his slight frame, even Nadal (who crushed him in 2017) may be taken by surprise by the rising Russian star.


DJOKOVIC hasn’t lost many matches in 2020 and neither has he been 13/8 (Ladbrokes and Coral) to win a tournament too often.

Those two facts combine to make him a bet at these ATP Finals.

The Serb was around the 5/4 mark ahead of last year’s tournament when he arrived having lost nine of 62 matches.

Given Roger Federer was involved in 2019, it’s hard to suggest this year’s field is stronger.

With Djokovic 7-1 against this year against his title rivals, his only loss coming against Nadal on clay, he certainly hasn’t had great problems in dealing with the line-up.

I’m not enthused by many players at 13/8 but in this case, the price looks to have value attached.

In the other group, Nadal again looks ripe to be opposed.

Yes, he’s not as worn out as he usually is at this time of year but anyone who has seen him indoors over the years knows he’s rarely at his best in such conditions. One indoor hardcourt title in his career says as much.

With injury concerns surrounding both Thiem and Tsitsipas, the in-form RUBLEV warrants support in this pool.

The Russian has won plenty of matches indoors over the past month or so should be well prepared for his opener against Nadal, who looked far from his best in Paris – his only warm-up event.

The concern would be Rublev’s unconvincing record against the elite. Still, that’s improved in 2020 – he’s 3-3 against top-10 opponents this season – and his recent run indoors looks to have set him up perfectly for a crack at the world’s best in London.

Everything about his game right now suggests he’s on the cusp of a major breakthrough and so I’m prepared to back him each way at 10/1 to become the latest outsider to claim the ATP Finals crown.

Posted at 1050 GMT on 13/11/20

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