We arrive in the semifinals of the 2019 Mubadala World Tennis Championship. Will it come down to the one match everyone has been waiting for? We look at Novak Djokovic vs Stefanos Tsitsipas, as well as Rafael Nadal vs Karen Khachanov.
Novak Djokovic vs Stefanos Tsitsipas
Although one could have been concerned about Stefanos Tsitsipas’ response to winning his biggest career title at the 2019 ATP Finals, the Greek did a lot to convince the doubters in a solid win over Andrey Rublev. Saving both break points faced, Tsitsipas was great from the get-go, scoring a 6-3, 6-4 win.
The reward will be his fifth career meeting with Novak Djokovic, whom he has faced four times in different Masters 1000 events over the last 17 months. Tsitsipas got the job done in Canada and Shanghai, but had to succumb to the world no.2 in Madrid and Paris.
Although the Greek clearly has the game to push Djokovic to the back seat, executing it is a whole different matter. First-strike, all-court tennis is the way to go for Tsitsipas in this matchup, but as we’ve seen especially in Paris, there’s not much he can do when Djokovic’s defense is peaking. The state of the Serbian’s shoulder is a bit of a question mark, but if healthy, Djokovic takes it more often than not.
Prediction: Djokovic in 3
Rafael Nadal vs Karen Khachanov
Head-to-head: Nadal 7-0
No one has been as impressive in the latter half of 2019 as Rafael Nadal. The 19-time Grand Slam champion started the season rather slowly, only to progress into an absolute beast by the end of May. Since losing to Stefanos Tsitsipas in Madrid, the world no.1 dropped just two games for the remaining part of the season – to Roger Federer at Wimbledon and to Alexander Zverev at the ATP Finals. Nadal was also the key factor in Spain’s inaugural Davis Cup Finals win, winning all eight rubbers contested (5 singles and 3 doubles).
One of these rubbers came against Russia as Nadal took down Khachanov 6-3, 7-6. Tiebreaks have been prevailing in that rivalry, with 5 of the past 6 sets getting decided this way. One important thing to add – all were won by Nadal.
Khachanov’s played him close before and might do it again, but there’s not much to suggest that it might be that time he finally gets a win. The Russian’s aggressive game will probably lack the consistency required to beat the Spaniard.
Prediction: Nadal in 3