Daniil Medvedev has already qualified for the Nitto ATP Finals semis, but there’s still plenty at stake. Photo by @atptour (Twitter).
- Daniil Medvedev has already won the group and qualified for the semifinals, so he may be looking to conserve his energy
- The winner of Novak Djokovic v Alexander Zverev moves on; the loser goes on vacation
- Will Djokovic be eliminated during the round-robin for the second straight year? We break it down.
The Saturday semifinals at the Nitto ATP Finals are … somewhat set.
Dominic Thiem knows he’ll finish atop the London 2020 group, to play either Novak Djokovic and Alexander Zverev.
Daniil Medvedev knows he’ll win the Tokyo 1970 group, and will play Rafael Nadal Saturday.
Nothing he does Friday in his final round-robin match will affect either fact.
Daniil Medvedev vs Diego Schwartzman Odds
| Daniil Medvedev||-4.5 (+121)||-455||O 20.5 (-112)|
| Diego Schwartzman||+4.5 (-103)||+350||U 20.5 (-110)|
Odds taken Nov 19 at DraftKings
So it’s still somewhat surprising Medvedev remains a heavy favorite against Diego Schwartzman, even if the odds were narrowing some on Thursday.
Medvedev has nothing to gain on the court by winning.
That said, he has plenty to gain off-court.
Daniil Medvedev vs Diego Schwartzman Head-to-Head
|24 (Feb. 11, 1996)||Age||28 (Aug. 16, 1992)|
|Moscow, Russia||Birthplace||Buenos Aires, Argentina|
|8||Career ATP Singles Titles||3|
|No. 4 (Sept. 9, 2019)||Career High Ranking||No. 8 (Oct. 12, 2020)|
|No. 4||Current Ranking||No. 9|
|25-10||2020 W/L Record (Including ATP Finals)||25-14|
|$12,566,584||Career Prize Money||$8,965,129|
On the Line for Medvedev: 200 Points and $153,000
Even for a player who has already banked more than $2 million US this season, the $153,000 US at stake Friday is nothing to sneeze at.
No. 3 Thiem is more than 2,000 points ahead of him in the rankings. So the 200 points earned with a win, big picture, changes little for Medvedev.
The duelling forces are a nice payday versus … a desire to be as fresh as possible for the challenge that is Nadal.
Thiem was in a near-identical situation Thursday. He was 2-0, already having won his group, with no control over who his semifinal opponent would be, and facing an opponent who was 0-2 coming in.
And Thiem lost in straight sets to Andrey Rublev.
Not all people are Nadal though, this was the smart move from Thiem, he arrives rested against Djokovic/Zverev.
— 🤙Hicham Gherbi🤙 (@gherbi_hicham) November 19, 2020
There are two differences.
Medvedev has even less motivation to push it; he has just 24 hours before the semifinals, while Thiem had the extra day.
Also, Rublev had beaten Thiem the last two times they met, in straight sets. Medvedev is 4-0 against Schwartzman. Even if he doesn’t play his best, he could well win.
But … if they split the first two sets, we’d give the edge to Schwartzman in three (+800 on Bet365) and call it “smart energy conservation” by Medvedev.
Best bet: Medvedev in two sets (-155)
2021 Australian Open Odds Tracker
Novak Djokovic vs Alexander Zverev Odds
| Novak Djokovic (SRB)||-3.5 (-103)||-278||O 22.5 (-109)|
| Alexander Zverev (GER)||+3.5 (-121)||+225||U 22.5 (-113)|
Djokovic v Zverev for a Spot in the Semifinals
Djokovic came to London having clinched the year-end No. 1 spot for the sixth time.
Some questioned his level of eagerness. He put those questions to rest with a sharp-looking victory over Schwartzman.
But against Medvedev on Wednesday, Djokovic looked anything but sharp.
Medvedev was as impeccable as Djokovic was untidy. And the Serb admitted there were times when he was quite short of breath.
“I was, to be honest, a little bit, especially towards the end of the first set, beginning of the second. I kind of regrouped and felt better. Felt better towards the end of the match,” Djokovic said.
In that period, he lost seven straight games and went from leading 3-2 to being down 3-6, 0-3.
Djokovic also is dealing with some energy-sapping, behind-the-scenes tennis politics with the ATP.
If he was the overwhelming favorite to take his sixth ATP Finals title coming in, that’s definitely no longer the case.
Novak Djokovic had more quotes, very interesting, in Serbian, about his return to the @atptour council with @VasekPospisil, and the fact that they will continue PTPA anyway. Thread 👇 pic.twitter.com/216ZTO5B3u
— Tennis Majors (@Tennis_Majors) November 18, 2020
Zverev, who is dealing with some off-court issues of his own, has a 2-3 record against Djokovic.
He played him twice on the same court, at the ATP Finals in 2018.
Djokovic won easily in the round-robin. But Zverev beat him 6-4, 6-1 in the final.
Novak Djokovic vs Alexander Zverev Head-to-Head
|33 (May 22, 1987)||Age||23 (April 20, 1997)|
|Belgrade, Serbia||Birthplace||Hamburg, Germany|
|81||Career ATP Singles Titles||13|
|No. 1 (July 4, 2011)||Career High Ranking||No. 3 (Nov. 6, 2017|
|No. 1||Current Ranking||No. 7|
|40-4||2020 W/L record (Including ATP Finals)||28-10|
|$145,197,177||Career Prize Money||$23,002,531|
Neither Djokovic nor Zverev in Top Form
Zverev got past Schwartzman on Wednesday but was far from dominant.
To sum up: Neither is playing great. The winner gets to face Thiem in Saturday’s semifinal with Thiem having the extra day of rest – a tough proposition for either player.
It sets up to be a non-classic that will feature both struggling for consistency and focus.
And it could well be lengthy (DraftKings has +235 odds on over 28.5 games). Bet365 has +300 for Djokovic to win in three sets; +600 for Zverev to win in three.
Best bet: Djokovic in three sets
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.