The ATP Tour Finals continues today at the O2 Arena with the Agassi group getting up and running this afternoon but Dan Weston has doubts over Rafael Nadal...
"Rafa's quotes about his abdominal injury which he apparently picked up in the warm-up for his semi-final in Paris against Denis Shapovalov nine days ago aren't exactly bullish."
Federer edged by Thiem in tight match
Yesterday's action in London had a marked difference between the two matches with Novak Djokovic easing to a straightforward victory over Matteo Berrettini, while Dominic Thiem shocked Roger Federer with a 7-5 7-5 win. Thiem took his chances in this match, converting three of five break points and saving three of the four faced, while Federer's 48% of points won in the match is one of the highest you'll see from a straight-set loss.
Federer drifts in outright market
If Thiem is to beat Berrettini in their match later on in the week, it is likely to mean that Federer will need to beat Djokovic in order to have a chance of qualification and the outright market has seen Federer drift to 12.5. Given that he's potentially going to need to beat Djokovic twice to lift the trophy, there's probably also an argument that he's not drifted enough. The Serb is now odds-on for the title, at a current 1.865/6.
Another drifter in the outright market is Rafa Nadal, who is now out to 11.010/1 without even stepping onto the court in a competitive match here, and the Spaniard faces last year's surprise champion Alexander Zverev in his opener tonight (not before 2000 UK time).
Zverev needing serve improvement
There's plenty to consider with this match-up with Nadal leading their head-to-head series 5-0 although only the last two were when Zverev was a top 10 player. In those two matches, Zverev has won just 52% of service points, and it goes without saying that the German will need to dramatically improve on this today if he is to get the win.
Nadal fitness the main talking point
Despite Nadal enjoying a considerable hard/indoor hard data advantage over Zverev this season, and those issues Zverev has faced on serve against an elite level returner, it's also prudent to discuss Rafa's fitness, and this has a huge influence into his market pricing here.
Currently on the Exchange, Nadal is 1.511/2 which would normally be absurd given full fitness, but Rafa's quotes about his abdominal injury which he apparently picked up in the warm-up for his semi-final in Paris against Denis Shapovalov nine days ago aren't exactly bullish, particularly with reference to his ability to serve at a decent level.
Really this looks a match best watched with perhaps the best course of action to evaluate Nadal's level as the first set progresses. If he looks competitive but hasn't converted one or two chances, SP might be some reasonable value.
Medvedev and Tsitsipas facing grudge match
Prior to this, however, is the first match in the Agassi group between Daniil Medvedev and Stefanos Tsitsipas, which also features a 5-0 head-to-head lead for a player - this time in Medvedev's favour.
There is little in the way of love lost between the duo with Medvedev quoted as saying 'I can no longer take him seriously' while Tsitsipas has criticised Medvedev's style, suggesting 'It's boring. So he has a huge serve, and if you manage to get it back, it's just countless balls inside the court'.
Tsitsipas spectacularly misses the point here - Medvedev's style has been clearly effective against him in their previous meetings and he needs to find a method to compete better against the Russian, and quickly. I do think Tsitsipas has a solid chance of qualifying here, given Nadal's potential injury issues, and overturning this brutal head-to-head would go a long way to helping him in this regard.
Market prices accurate despite head-to-head
Those matches actually suggest that Tsitsipas has been unlucky. Medvedev has won just 55% of games, which wouldn't at all suggest a 5-0 match margin and 11-4 set margin. Tsitsipas has won a set in all but their last meeting, which took place last month in Shanghai - Medvedev took that 7-6 7-5 in a tight encounter where Tsitsipas actually created more break point chances.
I think the market has this about right today, with Medvedev at 1.4640/85. Hold/break data likes the Russian but service/return points won doesn't make such a case for him - I think Tsitsipas has a chance here but this isn't a prospect that I'm particularly enthused by from a pre-match perspective.
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