Andy Schooler was in profit on the opening day of the ATP Finals. Here’s his look at Monday’s matches at London’s O2 Arena.
Daniil Medvedev v Alex Zverev
- 2000 GMT
This contest is a quick rematch of the Paris Masters final earlier this month which Medvedev claimed in three sets.
He lost the opener but fought back impressively. The Russian troubled the Zverev serve on multiple occasions before finally breaking and once he’d done so, he pushed on to a comfortable victory. Zverev could only break serve once and was well beaten in the end.
It was Medvedev’s first title for over a year and it has filled him with confidence.
“I played really good in Paris, it was a great level of tennis so I have confidence in myself,” he said on Friday. “I think it will help me here in London.
“I felt it was tough to miss, that’s when I’m in my best shape and when it’s tough to beat me.”
The loss was Zverev’s first in 13 indoor matches during the current swing, so he’s clearly been playing well, this despite being the subject of domestic abuse allegations, which he describes as “unfounded”.
That storm isn’t going away any time soon and I doubt a week of reflection on the matter has helped his mental approach coming into what is a massive tournament.
Medvedev to repeat his Paris win at 3/4 seems fair enough.
A couple of other stats-based plays are also worth noting.
Medvedev has out-aced Zverev in all three of their indoor hardcourt matches, the margins being 3-2-3.
That makes Sky Bet’s 11/10 about Medvedev winning the -1.5 ace handicap appeal slightly.
It’s also notable that only two of the pair’s previous 16 sets have gone to a tie-break.
No breaker has landed in five of their seven matches yet that’s available at 19/20 here with betway.
Conditions looked medium-paced on the opening day on Sunday so there are likely to be chances on return for the service breaks to come.
Novak Djokovic v Diego Schwartzman
- 1400 GMT
Djokovic was last seen losing in horrendous fashion to Lorenzo Sonego in Vienna. He won only three games.
But don’t let that fool you. He had already completed his goal for that week – securing the year-end world number one ranking. His post-match comments certainly suggested he wasn’t exactly intent on winning the title. A ‘tank’ is how many observers described it.
That won’t be happening this week. Focus has been reset and the Serb seemed very much as if he were eyeing a winning end to his season when speaking at ATP Finals media day on Friday.
“I’m really hoping that I can end the season in the best possible way and the success that I had previously here in the past 10 years helps me feel more comfortable and confident about myself on the court,” he said.
I explained in my outright preview why I’m backing the world number one this week and this looks an ideal opener for him.
Djokovic leads the head-to-head 5-0. They’ve never met on indoor hard but it’s fair to say the surface will suit Djokovic more than Schwartzman.
In their outdoor hardcourt meetings, Djokovic has won all six sets. He’s also won the last six they’ve played, including some on the Argentine’s favoured clay. Expect the streaks to continue here.
There will likely be plenty of breaks of serve – only Rafael Nadal has won a higher percentage of return games on the ATP Tour this year than this two – but Djokovic seems highly likely to claim more of them.
Across their five previous meetings, he’s held serve 84% of the time and broken in 39% of his return games.
Schwartzman has won just 31.5% of points against the Djokovic serve – that’s well down on his figure of 42.5% over the past year.
The pint-sized Argentine has enjoyed a fine year and will bid to test Djokovic with his fine defensive game but the Serb has the bigger weapons and will have the patience to grind down his opponent in the long rallies.
In the current indoor season, Schwartzman has suffered heavy defeats to Alex Zverev (6-2 6-1) and Daniil Medvedev (6-3 6-1).
While things might not be so one-sided here, I still anticipate a comfortable win for the top seed and backing under 20.5 games at 5/6 looks a solid bet.
Odds correct at 1900 GMT (15/11/20)
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