ATP World Tour Finals: Djokovic a weak favourite for ATP Finals glory

Novak Djokovic
Dan believes Novak Djokovic is a weak favourite for the ATP Finals

The ATP World Tour Finals begin today in Turin, Italy, and Dan Weston doesn't understand why the world number two isn't the outright favourite to win...

"Medvedev started favourite against Djokovic in the final of Paris, and in a slightly easier group, I don't understand why he's underdog against Djokovic here in this event."

Conditions unknown as event moves to Turin

The ATP Tour concludes for the 2021 season with the ATP Finals, which features the top eight ranked players in the calendar year. Having been played at the O2 Arena in London from 2009 onwards, this year sees the first time the tournament will be held in Turin, which will be the venue until at least 2025.

With this in mind, it's impossible to know what the court speed will be in Italy, and we simply have to assume that the event will be medium-paced for indoor hard court, which will still be pretty quick.

Top two in the world the market leaders

Novak Djokovic dominated this event from 2012 to 2015, winning four consecutive titles, but he's only reached the final twice subsequently, losing on both occasions. In my view, the world number one looks short-priced at 2.3411/8 to win his first title in six years, and I'll discuss why shortly when looking at the individual groups.

Daniil Medvedev 3.8514/5 is the clear second-favourite, and the Russian is the defending champion, having defeated Dominic Thiem in last year's final. Thiem, of course, is absent this year due to injury.

Djokovic and Tsitsipas favourites to progress from Green Group

The eight players this year are split into two groups, Green and Red, with Djokovic, Stefanos Tsitsipas, Andrey Rublev and Casper Ruud in the Green Group. Djokovic has a 5-0 combined head-to-head record against this trio since the start of 2020, and along with Medvedev, is one of just two players here with a positive record against top-10 opposition in the last 12 months.

This should, of course, mean Djokovic is the man to beat here and year-long combined indoor/outdoor hard service/return points won percentages also indicate this. However, Djokovic is below the elite 110% mark for this metric this year, which shows a little potential drop-off in his level, and while he won the Paris Masters - his first event in several months - a couple of weeks ago, he only won once in straight sets. Be careful if you expect Djokovic dominance.

The other three players - Tstisipas, Rublev and Ruud - are pretty evenly matched from that combined service/return points won metric, with less than 1% separating the trio.

Tsitsipas will be favoured to progress by the market, although Rublev actually has a positive record against the three players in the group across the last two seasons.

All three are strong servers with solid but unspectacular return numbers, and it could be pretty tight in the battle to qualify, probably alongside Djokovic. Ruud's 2-8 record against top 10 opposition this year makes him the obvious underdog in the group.

Medvedev and Zverev with clear edge in Red Group

While there's not much to split the non-Djokovic trio in the Green Group, matters are more polarised in the Red Group.

Medvedev is the clear group favourite, and justifiably so, given his 112% combined service/return points won percentage across hard courts this year - he's the only player to break the elite 110% level in 2021. He also has a 6-1 head-to-head record over his group rivals across the last two seasons, and has won 12 of 16 matches against top 10 players this year.

Essentially, this data suggests that the world number two is a main threat to Djokovic's dominance here. Medvedev started favourite against Djokovic in the final of Paris, and in a slightly easier group, I don't understand why he's underdog against Djokovic here in this event.

Zverev should come through with Medvedev, with Hubert Hurkacz looking next-best in the group, from a numbers-perspective. The Pole has had a superb 2021, and has reached this event for the first time, and it wouldn't be a shock if he sprung a surprise or two here.

The limited return game of Matteo Berrettini is likely to limit his progress in the Red Group, and is perhaps a clear reason towards his 2-7 record against top 10 opposition in the last 12 months as well.

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