ATP Tour Finals Thursday Tips: Nadal a solid favourite for must-win clash

Spanish Tennis Player Rafa Nadal
Rafa Nadal is favourite for his must-win clash tonight...

The ATP Tour Finals continues in London on Thursday with the conclusion of Group London 2020. Our tennis columnist, Dan Weston, returns to preview the action...

"As most readers would expect, Nadal has a decent advantage on return data compared to Tsitsipas, with relatively similar service numbers."

Wins for Zverev and Medvedev on day four

There were wins for Alexander Zverev and Daniil Medvedev on day four at the ATP Tour Finals, which leaves Group Tokyo 1970 in a fascinating position in advance of the final group matches tomorrow.

Medvedev's straight-set win over Novak Djokovic sees him gain the first qualification spot in the group, while Zverev's victory over Schwartzman sees him join Djokovic in the standings on one win and one loss each. Given this, their meeting tomorrow is winner takes all, joining Medvedev in qualifying for the semi-finals from the group. Schwartzman is now out.

Thiem versus Rublev with no impact on qualification

In today's action, the opening match, scheduled not before 1400 UK time sees group leader and already-qualified Dominic Thiem meet eliminated Andrey Rublev, so the match has no consequence in terms of qualification.

This makes things a little tricky when it comes to ascertaining any value for this match. Prior to the tournament, I rated Rublev higher than Thiem indoors - he'd just come off the back of two indoor tournament victories and beat Thiem in Vienna as well. Furthermore, in advance of that straight-sets win in the Austrian capital, Rublev was priced around 2.1011/10.

However, today, the Russian is bigger at 2.526/4, with Thiem the 1.645/8 favourite. Numbers-wise, this does look wrong but given the context of the match, with Thiem having already qualified and Rublev unable to do so, it's difficult to be particularly confident about player motivation either way.

Nadal with data edge over Tsitsipas

Player motivation shouldn't be an issue for today's second clash, where Rafa Nadal meets Stefanos Tsitsipas, with both players needing to win in order to qualify having each beaten Rublev and lost to Thiem.

The market thinks Nadal is a strong favourite to join Thiem in qualifying, currently priced at 1.412/5, and while I think that's a little short - I have him at 1.4840/85 - it's not absurdly so. As most readers would expect, Nadal has a decent advantage on return data compared to Tsitsipas, with relatively similar service numbers.

Nadal leading the head-to-head 5-1 is pretty misleading. Two wins were when Tsitsipas was ranked outside the top 30, and it's actually 2-1 when isolating matches where both players were ranked inside the top 10. Last year in London, Nadal won 6-7 6-4 7-5 and was priced at around the 1.501/2 mark, which is similar to my pricing today. On clay, he's been shorter, at around the 1.152/13 to 1.251/4 range when both players were priced in the top 10.

However, broadly speaking, the price looks right today, and this must-win clash will be a superb conclusion to the group, before a similar must-win match-up tomorrow between Djokovic and Zverev.

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Follow Dan on Twitter @TennisRatings

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