ATP Tour Finals Day Eight: First set the key for Zverev's chances

Serbian tennis player Novak Djokovic
Novak Djokovic is a heavy favourite to win the ATP Tour Finals...
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Tonight's Tour Finals final concludes the 2018 ATP season. Our tennis columnist Dan Weston, returns to see if Alexander Zverev can test Novak Djokovic...

"For their group match on Wednesday, Djokovic was priced at [1.20] to beat Zverev, so today's price is a few ticks shorter than several days ago - probably a result of his strong performance in a 6-4 6-1 victory. My model has Djokovic at [1.25], which is similar to that group match, and Zverev at [5.00], making the [6.60] about the German some slight value."

Zverev deservedly edges Federer in semi-final surprise

As has been commonplace in the tournament, yesterday's action in London saw two straight-set victories, of rather differing natures.

Firstly, Alexander Zverev edged Roger Federer in two extremely tight sets, and showed the small margins which dictate tennis matches, as well as the value of taking your chances. The German man converted both of his break point chances, with Federer going one from three, and ultimately the match revolved around these five points, as well as the second-set tiebreak.

However, Zverev did win 55% of the points in the match, so it would be unfair to say he didn't deserve his victory - although I am sure segments of the voiciferous crowd at the O2 Arena may suggest otherwise. Having said this, he'll need to be at his best on those key points today if he is to stand any chance of the title, as he faces Novak Djokovic, who looks back to his imperious best.

Djokovic a heavy favourite to lift the trophy

The world number one eased past Kevin Anderson in yesterday's evening match, for the loss of just four games, winning a whopping 63% of points in the match in a dominant display, and is priced at just [1.17] to be lifting the trophy tonight.

I wasn't entirely convinced that Djokovic should be as short-priced as he was, pre-tournament, but the Serb hasn't dropped a set in the entire event, and it is understandable why he has such market support.

Djokovic priced shorter than group-stage encounter

For their group match on Wednesday, Djokovic was priced at [1.20] to beat Zverev, so today's price is a few ticks shorter than several days ago - probably a result of his performance in a 6-4 6-1 victory. My model has Djokovic at [1.25], which is similar to that group match, and Zverev at [5.00], making the [6.60] about the German some slight value.

Trying to work out out how to exploit my perception that Zverev will be fairly competitive, however, is a little bit more of a struggle. The +/-4.5 game handicap is the standard line on the Exchange, with Zverev [2.20] to cover that line. I'd have preferred an option on +5 games in favour of Zverev, and in addition he's got a dreadful career record at covering big handicap lines when a heavy underdog. I certainly cannot advocate this with confidence.

First set game line slightly more tempting

In addition, the over 9.5 game line for the first set is 5/6 with the Sportsbook, and perhaps this is a little more tempting. However, again, I'd have been more tempted with slightly bigger, although it's worth noting that when similarly priced, he has shown a tendency to be more competitive in the first set than for subsequent ones.

With this in mind, the over 9.5 game bet in the first set seems the best of a bad bunch for today, but it's definitely not a strong recommendation. Continuing the theme in a tournament where we've picked our spots with decent success, don't go too heavy with your staking here.

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