Ahead of the final ATP Finals at London’s iconic O2 Arena, two Last Word on Tennis writers – Vithun Illankovan & David Gertler went head-to-head with their ATP Finals predictions.
The player we think will win the tournament
Vithun Illankovan: (5) Alexander Zverev [GER]
Despite the significant amount of controversy regarding his personal life in recent weeks, Zverev comes into the ATP Finals as one of the form players, with a 12-1 record during the indoor hard court season so far. The defeat in the Paris Masters final to Medvedev was a blessing in disguise as he enters the tournament without the pressure of maintaining a win streak. As a result I’m predicting another ATP Finals win for the German and think it will be in very similar fashion to his win in 2018: losing to No.1 Novak Djokovic in the Round Robin stage but getting revenge in the final!
David Gertler: (4) Daniil Medvedev [RUS]
Perhaps a bit of recency bias here, but there’s no player in the field right now that I would pick over Medvedev if he can continue his Paris form. His serve was working, groundstrokes hit hard with depth, and showed remarkable rally tolerance. Given that Nadal clearly is struggling to return on indoor hard and Djokovic had that bizarre showing in Vienna, I think that the smart pick is Medvedev.
The player we think will perform the best relative to their seeding (excl. champion picks)
Vithun Illankovan: (6) Stefanos Tsitsipas [GRE]
Nobody seems to be talking about the defending champion which makes him all that more dangerous. He has a winning indoor hardcourt record against two of the players in his round robin group: Dominic Thiem and Andrey Rublev. Assuming he wins these two matches and makes the semi-finals, the experience of winning the tournament on his debut last year could prove valuable!
David Gertler: (5) Alexander Zverev [GER]
There’s no real dark horses at the ATP Finals, but in terms of a player who has a great shot to win the event that isn’t Medvedev, Djokovic, or Nadal, it has to be Zverev. He has a lot of very serious things going on outside of the court,, but in terms of his tennis, he played damn well in Paris. Overall, he served extremely well and his forehand held up much better than I expected. He loves indoor conditions and has a huge chance to win this title.
The player we think will perform the worst relative to their seeding
Vithun Illankovan: (3) Dominic Thiem [AUT]
The Austrian is likely to be mentally fatigued at this year’s ATP Finals given that it is the first time he is playing the event having won a Grand Slam title. The group also is not great for last year’s finalist. Thiem has a losing record against Rafael Nadal, lost the final of this tournament last year to Stefanos Tsitispas and was recently suffered a straight sets defeated by Andrey Rublev in Vienna.
David Gertler: (2) Rafael Nadal [ESP]
I know to NEVER count Rafa out, but based on what I saw in Paris, I’m concerned how Nadal will do in London. He just doesn’t look comfortable right now on indoor hard. Nadal isn’t returning nearly as well as he is capable of and is a little shakier off the ground, as well. It could be a fairly short trip to London for the Spaniard.