After what has been a thrilling week of tennis so far at the ATP Finals, even if the absence of fans at the O2 Arena has been keenly felt, just four men remain in contention for the title in London. We here at LWOT will be offering our predictions for both semifinals. But who will book their place in Sunday’s showpiece final?
ATP Finals Semifinal Predictions
Novak Djokovic vs Dominic Thiem
Head-to-head: Djokovic 7-4 Thiem
If their most recent encounters are anything to go by, this should be some match. That is a testament to the improvements Dominic Thiem has made on hard courts, turning himself from an also ran into one of the most dangerous players in the game, capable of beating anyone. He has shown as much by collecting wins at the ATP Finals, on the fast hard courts he signally failed to master early in his career, over Djokovic and Roger Federer last season and Rafael Nadal this.
Central to Thiem’s recent successes on hard courts, including his run to the title at the US Open in September, is his thunderous power, with his forehand surely one of the best in the men’s game. Djokovic, who has not quite hit the heights so far this week despite creditable victories over Diego Schwartzman and Alexander Zverev, cannot come close to matching Thiem for power nor will even his rightly vaunted defensive skills be enough to keep the Austrian at bay if he has time to unleash off the ground.
Crucial to Djokovic’s chances then, will be denying Thiem time on the ball. The Serbian will need to risk taking the ball early and on the rise, as well as going down the line early in the rally, particularly with his two-hander. He has the ability to do so. Indeed, when he is at his best, it is his ability to consistently do just that which makes him so hard to beat. But Djokovic has looked slightly short of focus lately and if he is not at his very best, Thiem is more than good enough to punish him.
Prediction: Thiem in 3
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Rafael Nadal vs Daniil Medvedev
Head-to-head: Nadal 3-0 Medvedev
Nadal may have won all three of his previous matches against Daniil Medvedev, but he does not come into their fourth clash as the favourite. After making an excellent start to his ATP Finals campaign with a 6-3 6-4 win over Andrey Rublev, the Spaniard was beaten by Thiem before edging past Stefanos Tsitsipas in three hard-fought sets. As ever, his fighting spirit has been admirable, but the fast, low-bouncing courts at the O2 Arena do not suit his style of play.
Medvedev, in contrast, looks more than comfortable indoors. The Russian arrived in London after winning the Paris Masters, a highlight in what has been a broadly disappointing season for the world #4, and he backed that up by topping the Tokyo 1970 group, dismissing Djokovic for the loss of only six games to secure his place in the semifinals. And whilst he has never beaten Nadal, he came perilously close to doing so on this court a year ago, only to squander a 5-1 lead and a match point in the third set.
That defeat was no doubt bitterly disappointing for Medvedev, but, in truth, if he plays his best tennis this a match he will win. Defensively, he is good enough to withstand the worst that Nadal can throw at him, whilst his flat, driven groundstrokes seem destined to cause Nadal real problems if he can get onto the front foot. What may well tip the balance decisively in his favour, however, is his serve, which should earn him considerably more free points than Nadal’s.
Prediction: Medvedev in 2
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