ATP Finals Day 3 Predictions Including Rafael Nadal vs Felix Auger-Aliassime

Felix Auger-Aliassime Basel 2022

It’s Day 3 at the ATP Finals and we have two mouthwatering matches on offer. There may be questions over Rafael Nadal’s level after his last loss but underestimate the Spaniard at your peril–he takes on one of the best indoor players this year in Felix Auger-Aliassime. The night match sees Casper Ruud, who beat Auger-Aliassime in his previous match, take on Taylor Fritz, Nadal’s conqueror. Here are our predictions for these two round-robin matches.

ATP Finals Day 3 Predictions

Taylor Fritz vs Casper Ruud

Head-to-head: First meeting

Given this is a first meeting between the pair, we go into Taylor Fritz and Casper Ruud’s first meeting with a few question marks over how the match-up will play out. Though most would assume Fritz could cover his first-serve better than Ruud, basically every player in the field will have a heavy serve plus one advantage given the speed of the courts (also many assume Ruud’s first-serve is middling – it’s world-class). It doesn’t matter if your serve is 120mph or 130mph; cheap and easy first-serve points will be a given across the board.

It comes down to who has the biggest advantage when second-serves come into play. Ruud is happy to play from deep in the court on second-serve return to get deep, heavy balls into the backhand corner. This worked against Auger-Aliassime who is more prone to coughing up the odd central ball from his backhand – Fritz however is happy to go aggressive with that smooth shot. Whilst Ruud has made improvements to his backhand, weakness has shown up against some of the bigger hitters off this wing on tour (see latter-season losses to Wawrinka, Musetti). Can Fritz step-up in this department and sustain enough angle on it to keep Ruud from dominating with his forehand? After his match with Nadal, we think so.
Prediction: Fritz in 2

Embed from Getty Images

Rafael Nadal vs Felix Auger-Aliassime

Head-to-head: 2-0 Nadal

Despite the loss to Casper Ruud, Felix Auger-Aliassime should be feeling confident going into this match. He’s still one of the form players indoors having won 13 consecutive matches prior to losing to Ruud and Rune.

If Auger-Aliassime can tap into that again, he’s the favourite against Rafael Nadal whose ab injury seems to be affecting his form. Nadal is the all-time leader in terms of second-serve points won but in his last two matches, his second-serve delivery has been grossly affected. Though it’s not the second-serve itself that has brought him this success, its usual heaviness makes it very difficult to hit aggressive returns. Against Tommy Paul in Paris and Fritz at the ATP Finals, his ab injury seemed to be stopping him from stretching up into the ball limiting the kick he could add to the serve. This could be crucial against a server like Auger-Aliassime.

But how many times has Nadal proved us wrong when least expect it? Serves aside, a barrage of forehands to the Auger-Aliassime backhand out of nowhere could prove to be the Canadian’s undoing. Only for so long though surely? We’ll give the legend some credit but Auger-Aliassime should come through here.
Prediction: Auger-Aliassime in 3

Main Photo from Getty.