Ruud needs to win to top group
Nadal failing to inspire confidence
Auger-Aliassime favourite to take evening clash
Ruud a solid favourite in dead rubber against Nadal
Starting at 13:00 UK time, there's something of a dead rubber with Casper Ruud, already qualified, facing the eliminated Rafa Nadal. Ruud, arguably with some positive variance on his side, has won four sets from five, while Nadal is 0-4 in sets so far in the tournament after a straight-set loss to Felix Auger-Aliassime on Tuesday.
However, with Novak Djokovic looking imperious in the Red Group, Ruud certainly should have the motivation to go three from three and therefore avoid facing the Serb in the semi-finals and therefore make Djokovic face the winner of Taylor Fritz and Felix Auger-Aliassime's match in the evening.
Ruud is a solid favourite to do so, currently trading at 1.538/15 on the Exchange at the time of writing, with Nadal at 2.8415/8 - the biggest price the King of Clay will start a match at since his Wimbledon semi-final against Novak Djokovic in 2018.
That's indicative of the struggles Nadal has faced since his injury issues in the summer, and he's not inspiring confidence that he can turn things around in the short-term.
Defeat would also be Nadal's fifth in a row, so he should have pride at least to stop that losing run. He will have to put some pretty solid pressure on Ruud's strong serve in order to pick up an underdog victory.
Ability differential makes Auger-Aliassime's price look big
The evening match will decide much more, being a knockout clash between Auger-Aliassime and Fritz. Following Auger-Aliassime's win over Nadal several days ago, the Canadian is favourite at 1.625/8 to get the win - a similar price to that which he was against a clearly struggling Nadal.
Looking at the duo's indoor data this year, and Fritz's numbers last year from a bigger sample too, there's a fairly big ability differential between the duo, particularly on serve where Auger-Aliassime has thrived indoors this year.
Auger-Aliassime's strong serve should hold the key
This serve numbers indoors are so strong indeed, winning over 70% of points on serve and holding almost 90% on the the surface. The challenge now for Auger-Aliassime is to become a little stronger on return, which would put him in a position to be one of the best players indoors in the world.
Given the fairly sizeable ability differential between the duo on this surface, I'm surprised that Auger-Aliassime is priced this big for the match. We picked up a decent win over Nadal on Tuesday for our pick, and it's down to Auger-Aliassime to double up now as well on Thursday night.