ATP World Tour Finals Monday Tips: Ruud better than massive odds suggest

Novak Djokovic
Novak Djokovic may be tested by Casper Ruud

Novak Djokovic is a short price to win today but his stats suggest young opponent Casper Ruud can cover the handicap today, says Dan Weston in his tipping column

"Djokovic is running at below 110% combined service/return points won percentage on hard courts this year and while his numbers rank him number two for this metric (Medvedev is first), they aren't quite as strong as he has been in previous years."

Medvedev and Zverev start opening round with victories

In rather differing circumstances, the two favourites in the Red Group got opening day victories to start their campaigns on a positive note. Daniil Medvedev sneaked past Hubert Hurkacz in a tight three setter - Hurkacz really has improved so much this year - while Zverev got the better of Matteo Berrettini via retirement. After a first set tiebreak, Berrettini succumbed to an abdominal injury and was forced to withdraw from the match. His status in the tournament, at the time of writing, is unclear, but countryman Jannik Sinner would step in as first alternate should Berrettini be unfit to continue in the event.

Djokovic could face opening day test

Novak Djokovic 1.141/7 vs Casper Ruud 7.87/1: Looking to match Medvedev and Zverev is Novak Djokovic, with the world number one and tournament favourite a very heavy market favourite to start the tournament on a positive note.

Of course, I agree that Djokovic should be a heavy favourite - no-one could debate that - but I do think the market lines are pretty short and Ruud, who possesses a solid serve, could well keep matters closer than many anticipate.

Djokovic is running at below 110% combined service/return points won percentage on hard courts this year and while his numbers rank him number two for this metric (Medvedev is first), they aren't quite as strong as he has been in previous years. Particularly on return, things are a little worse than they have been.

This could, in theory, open the door for some game handicap lines on Ruud. I like the chances of the Norwegian to cover the +5.5 game line. The market is currently settling but you should get matched at 1.75/7. Ruud has held serve 85% of the time on hard courts this year, and Djokovic will probably have to work pretty hard to break more than once per set.

Market finding it tough to split Tsitsipas and Rublev

Stefanos Tsitsipas 1.865/6 vs Andrey Rublev 2.1411/10: In the other opening match in the Green Group, Stefanos Tsitsipas is a very marginal market favourite to defeat the Russian, Rublev.

The duo have met five times since September 2020, with Tsitsipas edging matters 3-2 and having an edge from underlying data in those clashes, winning around 5% more service points. Considering this, and the fact that he comes into the event with slightly better year long data on hard courts, it's difficult to dispute the market pricing much.

However, it's worth noting that the Greek retired in his last match with an elbow problem against Alexei Popyrin in his opening match at the Paris Masters, which introduces an interesting consideration into the equation. Rublev lost his opener there (7-5 7-6 to Taylor Fritz) and has lost four out of his last five - all as a 1.501/2 or shorter favourite - so neither player will be coming into this with an abundance of confidence.

Overall, this should be a fascinating meeting with question marks surrounding both players.

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