In what promises to be an entertaining end to the 2019 ATP season, first-time finalists Dominic Thiem and Stefanos Tsitsipas will meet to decide the ATP Finals. Both men have enjoyed fine years, with Thiem establishing himself as a force to be reckoned with on the hard courts, a point he has underlined in London, and Stefanos Tsitsipas breaking into the top ten for the first time. But who will claim the final title of the season?
ATP Finals Final Prediction
Dominic Thiem vs Stefanos Tsitsipas
Head-to-head: Thiem 4-2 Tsitsipas
Both men have impressed so far at the ATP Finals. Thiem began his week with back-to-back victories over Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic, who between them have claimed 11 titles at this event. In both matches, Thiem was able to use his power from the back of the court to impose himself on his opponent. Thiem’s level did drop in his final round-robin match when his qualification was assured as he fell to a 6-7 3-6 defeat at the hands of Matteo Berrettini. However, he rebounded impressively to dispatch defending champion Alexander Zverev 7-5 6-3 in the semifinals.
Tsitsipas, meanwhile, also opened his campaign with back-to-back round-robin victories as he beat Daniil Medvedev, 7-6 6-4, and Zverev, 6-3 6-2. However, he was denied undefeated passage into the semifinal when world #1 Rafael Nadal rallied from a set down to claim a 6-7 6-4 7-5 win. Tsitsipas then faced Federer in the last four. The Swiss had been in scintillating form to end Djokovic’s campaign, but he was far from his best in the semifinals, with Tsitsipas saving 11 of the 12 break points he faced in a 6-3 6-4 win.
However, he may not feel full of confidence about his chances in the final, having won just two of his six previous matches against the Austrian. Perhaps most concerningly, although their head-to-head is tied at one win apiece on clay, on hard courts it is Thiem who leads, having won three matches to Tsitsipas’ one. That includes a three-set victory in their most recent match which came at the China Open in reasonably similar conditions.
The reason for that advantage can perhaps be found in Tsitsipas’ defensive struggles. Make no mistake, the Greek is an excellent mover, particularly for a man of his height. However, he has consistently found it difficult to absorb and redirect pace. He does not have the ability possessed by the likes of Djokovic, Nadal and Andy Murray to redirect it, particularly off the backhand side, or Federer’s rightly vaunted skill at taking the sting out of his opponent’s power.
As both Djokovic and Federer failed to do that effectively against Thiem earlier this week, there seems to be good reason to think that Tsitsipas will also struggle. A good serving day will therefore be essential for the Greek. Avoiding baseline rallies, especially backhand-to-backhand exchanges, will also be vital. Fortunately, Tsitsipas does have the variety to keep Thiem off balance and that should ensure this remains a close contest. But Thiem’s power should ultimately prove decisive.
Prediction: Thiem in 3
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