Novak Djokovic tops the final eight at the ATP Tour Finals in London next week. Photo by: Wonderhatch/ATP Tour
- The Nitto ATP Finals begin Sunday, in London one final time before moving to Turin, Italy for 2021
- First-timers Diego Schwartzman and Andrey Rublev join former champions Djokovic, Zverev and Tsitsipas
- Djokovic’s group features the most in-form players indoors. Can he get through pool play?
Novak Djokovic hasn’t won the ATP Tour Finals in five years. But prior to 2016, he won it four straight times.
This year, he comes in having guaranteed a year-end No. 1 ranking for the record-tying sixth time.
He’s a massive favorite to win it, also for the record-tying sixth time.
Nitto ATP Tour Finals Odds
| Novak Djokovic (SRB)||+140|
| Daniil Medvedev (RUS)||+450|
| Rafael Nadal (ESP)||+550|
| Dominic Thiem (AUT)||+700|
| Alexander Zverev (GER)||+800|
| Andrey Rublev (RUS)||+900|
| Stefanos Tsitsipas (GRE)||+1200|
| Diego Schwartzman (ARG)||+4000|
All odds as of Nov. 13 at DraftKings
Nadal Leads London 2020 Group
Rafael Nadal has never won the ATP Tour Finals.
And he has only made the final twice, most recently in 2013.
There are a lot of reasons. The Majorcan has won very few titles post-US Open titles overall, and only two indoor titles in his career.
Generally, he’s spent physically by November. But with the shortened season in 2020, he’s much fresher coming in.
Bad news: Nadal drew Dominic Thiem in his pool instead of Daniil Medvedev on the 3-4 coin flip. Thiem is by far his toughest opponent in the field (after Djokovic).
It’s surprising his odds (+550) are as high as they are.
#NittoATPFinals Full Sunday Schedule
12 pm:  @KrawietzKevin / @AndreasMies vs  @WesleyKoolhof / @NMektic
2 pm:  @ThiemDomi vs  @StefTsitsipas
6 pm:  @RajeevRam / @JoeSalisbury92 vs  @LukaszKubot / @MarceloMelo83
8 pm:  @RafaelNadal vs  @AndreyRublev97
— ATP Media Info (@ATPMediaInfo) November 13, 2020
Rublev a Tough No. 4
Assuming he doesn’t get the first-time jitters, Rublev is a formidable No. 4 in that group. On a given day, he can literally be unplayable on a hard court.
He is a completely different player now than the kid who took a whooping from Nadal at the 2017 US Open, in their only meeting (6-1, 6-2, 6-2).
And his head-to-head against the other two are even; the Russian rookie could be the shocker out of this group.
Given how the draw shook out, defending champion Tsitsipas looks to be a non-factor.
Group London 2020 Head-to-Heads
| Rafael Nadal||X||9-5||5-1||1-0|
| Dominic Thiem||5-9||X||4-3||2-2|
| Stefanos Tsitsipas||1-5||3-4||X||2-2|
| Andrey Rublev||0-1||2-2||2-2||X|
Djokovic Leads Group Tokyo 1970
Schwartzman will have a shot to catch Djokovic a little cold because they’ll meet in the opening match. It’s probably his best shot. But it’s not a great shot.
#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
Djokovic’s head-to-heads with Alexander Zverev and Daniil Medvedev are much closer, and both are in better recent form than he is.
But he probably only has to beat one of them.
Zverev has two titles and a final on the indoor circuit this fall.
Medvedev played vintage tennis last week in winning the Paris Masters title.
2021 Australian Open Odds Tracker
It’s Going to Take Two Wins to Advance
It’s hard to see someone advancing out of this pool with a 1-2 record and a favorable tiebreaker. And it’s entirely possible to see Schwartzman coming out 0-3.
Zverev showed in Paris that he was able to shut out his off-court drama and thrive.
He is capable of beating Djokovic. And he holds a 5-2 head-to-head against Medvedev despite the loss in Paris. Zverev was dealing with a nagging leg injury he says is better now.
All of which to say – getting out of the pool is going to be no picnic. But that’s as it should be.
Group Tokyo 1970 Head-to-Heads
| Novak Djokovic||X||4-2||3-2||5-0|
| Daniil Medvedev||2-4||X||2-5||4-0|
| Alexander Zverev||2-3||5-2||X||2-2|
| Diego Schwartzman||0-5||0-4||2-2||X|
Just like in Paris, Medvedev is the second favorite – even with a poor priors.
Medvedev had just one career win in Paris going in – and he won it.
A year ago in London, Medvedev lost all three of his round-robin matches. And yet he’s right behind Djokovic at +450.
Nitto ATP Tour Finals – Previous Champions
|2019||Stefanos Tsitsipas||Qualified – No. 5 seed|
|2018||Alexander Zverev||Qualified – No. 6 seed|
|2017||Grigor Dimitrov||Did not qualify|
|2016||Andy Murray||Did not qualify|
|2015||Novak Djokovic||Qualified – No. 1 seed|
|2014||Novak Djokovic||Qualified – No. 1 seed|
|2013||Novak Djokovic||Qualified – No. 1 seed|
|2012||Novak Djokovic||Qualified – No. 1 seed|
Expect Djokovic to make it out of pool play. The second player? Medvedev, in part because he has a better head-to-head record against Schwartzman than Zverev does.
Nadal? That’s a tougher ask. We give all four players in the London 2020 pool pretty even shots at making it to the weekend.
Pick to win: Djokovic (+140)
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.