Novak Djokovic starts his quest for a sixth Tour Finals trophy. Photo by Ella Ling/ATP Tour
- Group Tokyo 1970 at the 2020 Nitto ATP Finals begins play Monday (singles at 9am and 3pm ET)
- Medvedev vs Zverev is a near-instant rematch of the Paris Masters 1000 final a week ago
- Djokovic is a heavy favorite vs Schwartzman. Does the Argentine have a prayer? We break it down
Diego Schwartzman was asked before the ATP Finals draw which players he’d prefer in his pool group.
The ATP Finals rookie chose the three who – like himself –play better on clay: Rafael Nadal, Dominic Thiem and Stefanos Tsitsipas.
He went 0-for-3 for his wish list.
All three are in Group London 2020, which begins play Sunday. Schwartzman will be in Group Tokyo 1970, along with Novak Djokovic,
Daniil Medvedev and Alexander Zverev, which begins Monday.
Djokovic is the favorite to win it all, but he’ll have to get through the group stage first, beginning with the Argentine.
Novak Djokovic vs Diego Schwartzman Odds
| Novak Djokovic (SRB)||-5.5 (+125)||-625||O 20.5 (+100)|
| Diego Schwartzman (ARG)||+5.5 (-155)||+475||U 20.5 (-122)|
Odds as of Nov. 15 from DraftKings
Lopsided Head-to-Head For Djokovic
Back in January, Novak Djokovic took care of Diego Schwartzman in straight sets in the fourth round of the Australian Open.
The Serb also won in straight sets in the Rome final in September, albeit on red clay.
Schwartzman’s big problem against Djokovic is that there is nothing on his card that’s better than what the world No. 1 brings to the dance.
He won’t out-serve the Serb. And he won’t beat him at his stock-in-trade – outlasting the opponent and out-defending him in rallies.
Hence the reason Djokovic is the overwhelming favorite Monday.
Novak Djokovic vs Diego Schwartzman Head-to-Head
|33 (May 22, 1987)||Age||28 (Aug. 16, 1992)|
|Belgrade, Serbia||Birthplace||Buenos Aires, Argentina|
|81||Career ATP Singles Titles||3|
|No. 1 (July 4, 2011)||Career High Ranking||No. 8 (Oct. 12, 2020)|
|No. 1||Current Ranking||No. 9|
|39-3||2020 Won/Loss record||25-12|
|$145,197,177||Career Prize Money||$8,965,129|
Can Schwartzman Win A Set?
DraftKings has +900 odds that Djokovic will win the first set 6-4. It feels as though Djokovic may not get off to a super-quick start right out of the gate. The round-robin format can be unkind to top dogs, who are used to easing their way into a tournament in easier opening matches.
A total at over 9.5 games for the first set checks in at +132.
Winning a set would be a big ask for the underdog. Djokovic knows he has some work to do in his other two pool matches, so he’ll be ready. Giving up a set in the opener could make a difference if it comes down to tiebreakers.
Best bet: Djokovic in straight sets (-186)
#NittoATPFinals Full Monday Schedule
12 pm:  @M_Granollers / @HoracioZeballos vs  @JohnWPeers / Michael Venus
2 pm:  @DjokerNole vs  @DieSchwartzman
6 pm:  Mate Pavic / @BrunoSoares82 vs  @JoJoMelzer / @ERogerVasselin
8 pm:  @DaniilMedwed vs  @AlexZverev
— ATP Media Info (@ATPMediaInfo) November 13, 2020
Daniil Medvedev v Alexander Zverev Odds
| Daniil Medvedev||-1.5 (-115)||-150||O 23.5 (-107)|
| Alexander Zverev||+1.5 (-107)||+125||U 23.5 (-114)|
A Paris Rematch
Daniil Medvedev and Alexander Zverev won’t be able to ease into the ATP Finals.
When they met in the final of the Paris Masters a week ago, it was a battle.
This one is expected to be close from beginning to end.
Medvedev is far more of a favorite this week than his previous record at the ATP Tour Finals would suggest.
But those counterintuitive odds proved winning ones at the Paris Masters.
A Quad Injury for Zverev
Zverev said Friday he suffered a quad strain in that Paris final. He also had said a marathon against Adrian Mannarino earlier in the tournament had left him short of energy.
Those two factors help explain why he didn’t offer much resistance by the end.
Zverev also continues to deal with off-court issues. The ATP Tour finally came out with a fairly bland statement that made it clear he need not be concerned about sanctions this week.
Daniil Medvedev vs Alexander Zverev Head-to-Head
|24 (Feb. 11, 1996)||Age||23 (April 20, 1997)|
|Moscow, Russia||Birthplace||Hamburg, Germany|
|8||Career ATP Singles Titles||13|
|No. 4 (Sept. 9, 2019)||Career High Ranking||No. 3 (Nov. 6, 2017)|
|No. 4||Current Ranking||No. 7|
|23-10||2020 Won/Loss record||27-9|
|$12,566,584||Career Prize Money||$23,002,531|
Tough One To Call
Assuming the quad strain has healed up in the week since the Paris final, this match should be a lengthy one. The protagonists have similar game styles and will have a lot of long rallies. If it’s still an issue, or he strains it again, Zverev will be in some trouble.
The German won the ATP Finals in 2018; he knows how to navigate a round-robin.
Medvedev is on a roll after Paris.
The odds for total games creep into the “plus” column from 26.5 games on. Depending on how much risk is in play, even +30.5 isn’t out of the realm of possibility.
Best bet: Medvedev in three sets (+300)
Stephanie gets the straight dope from the tennis insiders. On court, she has represented her country internationally. A BA in journalism led to years on the MLB beat and a decade covering tennis globally. She’s written for Postmedia, the Guardian, the New York Times and also publishes OpenCourt.ca.