ATP Tour Finals Day Three: Federer strong favourite for must-win clash

Tennis Players Roger Federer & Rafa Nadal
Federer and Nadal have suffered opening match defeats in London...

After one match in each group so far, day three of the ATP Tour Finals takes place today. Dan Weston assesses whether Roger Federer can get back on track...

"Quite simply, Federer has a big advantage over Berrettini, with around a 5% edge on hard/indoor hold percentage in the last 12 months and a greater 11% difference on return."

Tsitsipas shocks Medvedev in straight sets

The straight sets theme of the Tour Finals so far continued with more of the same yesterday, as Tuesday's two underdogs took the plaudits. Stefanos Tsitsipas got past Daniil Medvedev in two tight sets, boosting our outright hopes. From a pre-tournament 17/118.0 he's already in to 10/111.0 with Nadal continuing his drift in the outright market after his defeat at the hands of Alexander Zverev.

Nadal's service numbers well down in Zverev loss

The King of Clay stated prior to the match that his serving in practice had been hampered by his abdominal issue and this was evident by his 62% service points won percentage on first serve and 43% on second serve, and these were far below his hard/indoor hard numbers this year of 79% and 59% respectively. He'll need to somehow address this in advance of Wednesday and it wouldn't even surprise me if we had to see an alternate come in for the Spaniard.

Federer strong favourite for must-win match

So then, Medvedev and Nadal are already probably needing two consecutive victories in their remaining matches to qualify, and also in that boat, potentially, is Roger Federer. The Swiss legend was defeated in two close sets by Dominic Thiem on Sunday and today faces the rank outsider, Matteo Berrettini.

A loss for Federer in the afternoon match today could in theory eliminate him from the tournament and therefore it's no surprise that the schedulers have gone for a more likely win for him today against the Italian, Berrettini, as opposed to him facing Novak Djokovic. They'll save that for Thursday, in what they will hope will be a must-win match for Federer against his elite rival.

Both Federer and Djokovic are heavy favourites today to win their respective matches, and my model made their prices virtually spot-on. I've spoken quite a few times previously about top 10 players facing each other in big tournaments rarely being pre-match value - their strengths and weaknesses are known pretty accurately by the market - and I agree completely with the market line of 1/51.20 about Federer today.

Quite simply, Federer has a large advantage over Berrettini, with around a 5% edge on hard/indoor hold percentage in the last 12 months and a greater 11% difference on return, and it simply looks like a big ability differential between the duo this afternoon. They met in the last 16 at Wimbledon earlier this year and Federer dropped just five games en route to a 3-0 victory, and his supporters will be hoping for the same today.

Djokovic with similar advantage against Thiem

In the night match, Djokovic is similarly priced at 2/91.22 to get past Thiem, although the Austrian has done well enough in their head-to-head meetings. Djokovic leads the series 6-3 with Thiem actually winning three of the last five (but all on clay) and with this is mind it's difficult to really read a great deal into those previous matches - they just don't have a great deal of relevance to today's match-up.

In the Federer v Berrettini match, I established that there was around a 16% combined hold/break difference between the two players and there's a similar margin between Djokovic and Thiem today as well, which obviously endorses my assertion that the market has this priced accurately.

The only real difference is that I expect the Djokovic v Thiem clash to be a little more return-orientated than Federer v Berrettini, but there's certainly not much in the way of pre-match value in today's matches in the Borg group.

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