Two eyebrow-raising results in the first Round Robin matches means that we could soon need our tennis calculators to work out permutations on who will advance to the semifinals in Group Andre Agassi.
Both Rafael Nadal and Daniil Medvedev suffered their first-ever defeats against their respective opponents Alexander Zverev and Stefanos Tsitsipas, and we should now brace ourselves for a potential classic when the two men who contested the 2019 US Open final clash in a decisive second match.
Nitto ATP Finals Day 4 Predictions
Rafael Nadal vs Daniil Medvedev
Head-to-head: Nadal 2-0 Medvedev
Rafael Nadal was a distant second best on Monday night as he fell to the defending champion Alexander Zverev 6-2 6-4 in an hour and 24 minutes. The Spaniard was quick to point out that he was pain-free following an abdominal strain he suffered at the Paris Masters a fortnight ago. However, Nadal admitted in the post-match press conference he did lack match sharpness and his famous competitive fighting spirit. Had the World No.1 won, he would have made things extremely unpleasant for Novak Djokovic who is breathing down his neck, eager to wrestle back the No.1 ranking.
Nadal’s first-ever loss to Zverev means that his lead has been truncated to 440 points in the race for the year-end No.1 and his bid to capture a maiden ATP Finals title could be over if he fails to beat Daniil Medvedev.
Medvedev also suffered a surprise defeat on Monday to fellow debutant Stefanos Tsitsipas. The Russian’s mastery over the young Greek came to an end as Tsitsipas stepped up on the big points when it mattered at the tail end of both sets to win 7-6 6-4.
Medvedev had entered into that match having won 29 of his last 33 matches and was arguably the biggest story of the 2019 season. With a tour-leading 59 match wins this year, the 23-year-old won four ATP tour titles including two Masters 1000 crowns in Cincinnati and Shanghai respectively. His spectacular second half of the season saw him reach an astonishing six successive finals between Washington up until the Shanghai Masters and came mighty close to complete the most improbable comeback in the US Open final, losing out to Nadal in five sets. Will the man from Moscow avenge that defeat and potentially end Nadal’s pursuit for a first Nitto ATP Finals crown?
Nadal leads the head-to-head 2-0 winning their first match in Canada with embarrassing ease. But it is their US Open tussle which will go down in tennis folklore as one for the ages. It was a match that the tennis world took notice of Medvedev’s remarkable athleticism. Despite his stature, the Russian is an incredibly difficult player to hit through. Nadal’s defence against Zverev was nowhere to be seen and was largely lethargic from the baseline. We will likely see an improved Rafa, but it is hard to see how the Spaniard will be able to repel Medvedev’s offence which is usually a nightmare sight for an opponent.
Prediction: Medvedev in 3
Alexander Zverev vs Stefanos Tsitsipas
Head-to-head: Zverev 1-3 Tsitsipas
Both Alexander Zverev and Stefanos Tsitsipas got their Nitto ATP Finals campaigns off to the best possible start. The pair had never beaten their respective opponents in their previous five meetings, but that all changed on Monday.
Zverev who is the reigning champion, is looking to become the first player to win back-to-back ATP Finals titles since Novak Djokovic (2012 – 2013). He produced a faultless display of dominance in his straight sets victory over Nadal, winning a startling 30 out of 34 points behind his first serve and never facing a break point in the contest.
While Tsitsipas’ numbers were not an equivalent to Zverev’s, he still did enough to produce a gutsy performance that secured his first-ever win over Medvedev. The Greek labelled that win ‘one of the most important victories in my career’, and it is easy to see why.
Zverev and Tsitsipas are super athletes and this will be a very intriguing match up since both of them registered massive wins in their opening matches. The Greek has a superior record against the German, but I am tipping the scales towards Zverev to have the last laugh here despite his underwhelming 2019 season. The seventh seed is more at home on these London courts, and he seemed to pick up some form during the Asian swing which seems to have gone unnoticed.
Prediction: Zverev in 3
Main Photo from Getty.