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ATP Tour Finals Day One Tips: Rublev capable of defeating Nadal

Spanish Tennis Player Rafa Nadal
Rafa Nadal could struggle tonight against Andrey Rublev...

ATP Tour Finals get underway this afternoon in London, and returning to discuss today's schedule featuring two very competitive matches, is our tennis columnist, Dan Weston...

"Nadal struggled in Paris, dropping sets against Feliciano Lopez and Pablo Carreno-Busta before losing to Alexander Zverev, and has an unspectacular record indoors - and in this tournament - compared to his level on other surfaces."

Not much to split Thiem and Tsitsipas

Action gets underway at 1400 UK time at the O2 Arena as the Tour Finals gets underway, and today's two singles matches come from the Group London 2020 with last year's two finalists, Dominic Thiem and champion Stefanos Tsitsipas kicking off the tournament.

The market is finding it tough to split the duo, with Thiem priced as the very marginal 1.9520/21 favourite. I agree that this match looks like a real 'pick-em' clash with both players having very similar combined indoor/outdoor hard service hold/break data across the last 12 months.

Worthwhile assessing Thiem's fitness

Since both players broke the top 10, Tsitsipas has won two of the three meetings (including last year's final), and all three matches were pretty competitive - I expect this again today with both players having projected hold percentages around the 85% mark, according to my model.

It will also be interesting to assess Thiem's fitness. He was defeated by Andrey Rublev in Vienna at the quarter-final stage in his last outing, and subsequently pulled out of Paris due to a foot blister. Keeping an eye on his level early in the match will be pretty worthwhile.

Nadal looking short-priced for Rublev clash

The night match, due to be played at 2000 UK time, features Rafa Nadal and Andrey Rublev. It's Nadal who is the 1.758/11 favourite for an opening day win, which I dispute - I make the duo around even money here.

Nadal struggled recently in Paris, dropping sets against Feliciano Lopez and Pablo Carreno-Busta before losing to Alexander Zverev, and has an unspectacular record indoors - and in this tournament - compared to his level on other surfaces. My perception is that he struggles more in quicker conditions, and the historical venue data suggests that these are likely in the coming week.

Rublev superb in breakthrough season

Rublev has been superb this season, winning five tournaments (two indoors) and he's running at over 108% combined service/return points won indoors across the last two years. These numbers are highly impressive and make him out to be a real threat this week, and I wouldn't be surprised at all if he was one of the two qualifiers from the group.

The implied edge between model and market certainly isn't huge here but my conservative recommendation today is Rublev at 2.305/4 to get the better of Nadal in this evening's match.

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Follow Dan on Twitter @TennisRatings

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