Nitto ATP Finals Preview & Prediction: Roger Federer vs Dominic Thiem

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Roger Federer’s pursuit of his 100th tour level title at the 2018 Nitto ATP Finals is in serious jeopardy. A rare loss to Kei Nishikori in his opening round robin match has put a serious dent in his qualification chances for the semifinals, and more importantly blown the Group Lleyton Hewitt wide open. In fact, that loss was his first straight sets defeat in round robin stage at this tournament for all the years he has competed in. Such has been his dominance on this event.

The Swiss will hope to bounce back from the disappointment of losing for just the third time in his career to Nishikori, when he plays another man seeking to register his first win on the board, Austria’s Dominic Thiem.

Thiem was well beaten by Kevin Anderson, and another defeat could be very much end his stay in London. These two have played each other three times, with all meetings taking place during Federer’s abysmal 2016 season. So I think we should not read too much into those two victories that Thiem managed to pull off.

Federer has reiterated that he feels relaxed and ready to compete, but the manner of his loss to Nishikori proves that is not the case. He hit a staggering 34 unforced errors and was a given a warning for hitting the ball into the crowd, and at times he did not seem to be the coolest head on the court.

The positive news for Federer is that he has a very winnable match against Thiem, and it will be very much in his hands to secure qualification. Federer has previously lost his opening match and managed to win the title back in 2007, but he last won at the O2 in 2011.
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Prediction: I am not reading too much into head-to-head record, and if Federer was to lose again then some serious questions should be asked about his fitness because there is no way he can replicate that display against Nishikori. I am not trying to discredit Nishikori for his victory, but Federer was simply out of sorts. I think he will bounce back. He has to win this and he knows it.

Pick: Federer in 2

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