There have been some thrilling matches so far at the ATP Finals, held this year for the last time in London before the tournament moves to Turin, as well as some surprisingly one-sided contests. Now the round robin is at the business end, with just two semifinal spots left up for grabs and, as ever, we here at LWOT will be offering our predictions for both singles matches on the slate. But who will advance to the last four and who will see their season end in disappointment?
ATP Finals Day Five Predictions
Dominic Thiem vs Andrey Rublev
Head-to-head: Thiem 2-2 Rublev
This match may be effectively a dead rubber, with Dominic Thiem assured of his place in the semifinals and Andrey Rublev already eliminated, but there is still reason to pay attention. Thiem, who has reinvented himself as a force to be reckoned with on hard courts since joining forces with coach Nicolas Massu, has the chance to put out a real statement of intent to his competitors by advancing through the group stage unbeaten, having already gotten the better of Rafael Nadal and Stefanos Tsitsipas.
Rublev, meanwhile, looked out of his depth against Nadal in his opener, losing in straight-sets, and when he lost a one-sided first set against Tsitsipas in his second match, it appeared that his trip to the ATP Finals was to be a brief and disappointing one. But although he was ultimately beaten by the Greek, Rublev deserves credit for the manner in which he fought back and he was perhaps unlucky to lose, having held a match point.
He may also come into this match with confidence, having beaten Thiem in both of their previous meetings, including less than a month ago in fairly similar conditions at the Vienna Open. That said, if Thiem plays at the level he has so far this week, he should have enough to have the beating of the Russian, who for all his power remains fairly one-dimensional. However, in a match where he has nothing at stake, it would not be a surprise to see Thiem’s intensity level drop. Rublev, whose pride has surely been wounded, is good enough to take advantage if it does.
Prediction: Rublev in 3
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Rafael Nadal vs Stefanos Tsitsipas
Head-to-head: Nadal 5-1 Tsitsipas
This is not a rivalry in which Tsitsipas has had much joy. He has lost five of his six previous meetings with Nadal, including at the ATP Finals last season, with his only win, somewhat surprisingly, coming in a three-set thriller on the clay at the Madrid Open. He did bounce back from that defeat at the O2 last season to go on to win the title, the biggest of his career to date, but this has been a broadly disappointing season for the Greek and he has not looked entirely convincing so far this week.
Nadal, in contrast, looks a man determined to add the biggest title that still eludes him to his trophy cabinet. He began his campaign with a statement win against Rublev, dropping just seven games to the debutant, before bringing the very best out of Thiem in a narrow 6-7 6-7 defeat. That loss suggests that the title will remain beyond Nadal’s grasp, with his struggles to successfully adapt his game to indoor hard courts continuing, but it was nonetheless a good performance from the Spaniard.
As is so often the case, it was his competitive spirit that was most notable. Tsitsipas, though not a pushover and, which is sometimes overlooked, 12 years younger than Nadal, is not quite capable of summoning the same level of competitive intensity. In a match that otherwise looks to be relatively evenly matched, with Nadal’s groundstrokes more solid but Tsitsipas’ more penetrating, the Spaniard’s determination to win, as well as his greater experience of how to dig wins out, could prove to be the difference.
Prediction: Nadal in 3
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