In its second year as tournament host, Turin welcomes a star-studded field for the ATP Finals. Day 1 promises plenty of entertainment with two intriguing matches on the schedule. Rafael Nadal is still seeking his maiden title at the season-ending championships and will look to produce a statement win when he takes on Taylor Fritz. The other match in the group will see Roland Garros finalist Casper Ruud battle Felix Auger-Aliassime.
ATP Finals Day 1 Predictions
Casper Ruud vs Felix Auger-Aliassime
Head-to-head: Ruud 3-2 Auger-Aliassime
Ruud’s edge in this match, if there is one, is that he got a taste of the ATP Finals format at last year’s edition when he qualified for the first time. He lost his opening match to Djokovic but recovered in the nick of time to secure his semifinal place with two group-stage wins. The odds are stacked against him this year. Felix Auger-Aliassime, meanwhile, is priced lower to enjoy a relatively comfortable opener.
After losing the first eight Tour-level finals in his career, Auger-Aliassime has turned a corner in 2022. The Canadian powerhouse has morphed into the most dominant player this fall, winning three titles in a month and entering into contention for ATP Finals qualification. His place was confirmed with a run-up to the semifinal in Bercy. Interestingly, Ruud has won their past two matches in the series including a 6-1 6-2 thrashing in Montreal. However, the Norwegian has looked vulnerable and could be there for the taking given his indifferent form since the US Open. Auger-Aliassime owns one of the best serves in the game and his first-strike forehand can breach any defence. The world #6 should pounce.
Prediction: Auger-Aliassime in 2
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Rafael Nadal vs Taylor Fritz
Head-to-head: Nadal 2-1 Fritz
The ATP Finals has not been Rafael Nadal’s happy hunting ground. In his 11th attempt, Nadal will mount another fresh bid to win one of the very few big titles that have eluded him in his career. While it would be foolhardy to bet against him this week, his recent health struggles are well-documented. Nadal missed out on regaining the No. 1 ranking in Bercy after suffering a shock early exit at the hands of Tommy Paul. The 36-year-old has played down fears of any recurrence of the abdominal injury that forced him to withdraw from Wimbledon, although he looked woefully short of match sharpness. He will be fully aware of the task that awaits on Sunday as he lines up to take on Taylor Fritz.
Fritz was the last player to qualify among the elite eight following Alcaraz’s withdrawal. The American has put together a tremendous season that has yielded three ATP titles. The 25-year-old is certainly capable of orchestrating an upset on Sunday. He defeated Nadal in the Indian Wells final and ran him close at Wimbledon. Although his preparation coming in is not conducive to a deep run, he should have the edge on a surface that should work better for him than it does for Nadal.
Prediction: Fritz in 3
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