The Borg group concludes at the ATP Tour Finals on Thursday, and with Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer fighting to qualify, Dan Weston returns with his thoughts on today's matches...
"Thiem's service/return points won numbers indoors this year aren't great (103% combined) and he's needed huge break point overperformance on return (he's converted 10% more than his return points won expectation) in order to thrive."
Tsitsipas progresses with win over Zverev
There were a number of talking points on Wednesday with our pre-tournament outright Stefanos Tsitsipas cruising to his second win and qualifying for Saturday's semi-finals with a day to spare with a victory over Alexander Zverev. At the time of writing, the Greek man is now into [7.0] on the Exchange (third favourite) from a pre-tournament [18.0].
Nadal keeps hopes alive with incredible fightback
However, this wasn't nearly the main theme of the day with Rafa Nadal fighting back from 5-1 down in the deciding set and saving a match point to defeat Daniil Medvedev and keeping alive his chances of qualification. The King of Clay is quoted as saying he got 'super lucky' to beat Medvedev, and interestingly claimed 'this match is one of those that one out of 1000 you win'.
These numbers weren't far from reality. He was matched at [150.0] for the win on the Exchange yesterday and £188,000 was matched on opponent Medvedev at [1.01], and these numbers should put into context how unlikely this comeback win for Nadal was. He's still got plenty to do to reach the last four but he's given himself a chance.
Thiem over-rated for Berrettini clash
Matteo Berrettini doesn't have that opportunity with the Italian already eliminated from the tournament after losing his first two group matches in straight sets. He faces the Borg group surprise package, Dominic Thiem, this afternoon in the early match which is scheduled to start not before 14:00 UK time.
For this, Thiem is [1.36] to win but I'm having issues rationalising this. If this was played two weeks ago in Paris he wouldn't be this price and I feel that the market has been influenced strongly by Thiem's wins over Djokovic and Federer so far, which were surprising considering his long-term hard/indoor hard numbers aren't particularly strong. Thiem was [1.60] to beat Berrettini in the semi-final of Vienna at the end of October and that looks more realistic, in my view.
This season, Thiem has won eight of nine matches indoors but they were mostly very tight victories. Five were in three sets and one was via retirement, and his straight-set wins were by three and four game margins. Despite such a record, Thiem's service/return points won numbers indoors this year aren't reflective of his win percentage (103% combined) and he's needed huge break point overperformance on return (he's converted 10% more than his return points won expectation) in order to thrive. This won't be sustainable in the long-term.
Given these considerations, it seems prudent to look at Berrettini on the game handicap. He lost in a creditable fashion to Novak Djokovic (four game margin) and Berrettini +3.5 games here is available at [1.95], and I think this is a reasonable spot.
Djokovic favourite for winner takes all match
So, while that's today's recommendation out of the way that first match is merely a starter to tonight's main course, which sees a winner takes all shootout between Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer.
Djokovic is the strong market favourite at [1.38] to progress and I think that this looks a little short, although not to the extent of Thiem in that opening match today. The Serb, who is also fighting to retain his world number one ranking, has won his last five head-to-head matches against Federer, which should have some influence, although there isn't much to choose between their indoor numbers this year - Djokovic has a slight advantage with Federer actually having better combined service/return points indoors in 2018.
The last couple of meetings - particularly at Wimbledon in July - have been extremely tight clashes and I'd expect nothing less today with both players giving their all to qualify for the semi-finals. Djokovic will be favourite but Federer rolling back the years and springing a surprise shouldn't be ruled out either.
Follow Dan on Twitter @TennisRatings
Back Matteo Berrettini +3.5 games v Dominic Thiem at [1.95]