The third day of the Nitto ATP Finals could be decisive in determining the first qualifying player for the semifinal. Six-time champion Novak Djokovic plays home crowd favorite Jannik Sinner in the tie of the round so far. Greece’s Stefanos Tsitsipas could face early elimination if he loses. Who will emerge victorious?
ATP Finals Day 3 Predictions
Stefanos Tsitsipas vs Holger Rune
Head-to-head: Rune 2-0 Tsitsipas
Stefanos Tsitsipas allayed fears that he picked an elbow injury during practice, so Hubert Hurkacz will have to wait on the substitute bench a little bit longer as an alternate. The Greek was overpowered by Jannik Sinner in his opening match. Because most of their previous collisions were on clay, the head-to-head seemed irrelevant to serve as a barometer for their match indoors. He made an honest confession in the post-match press conference, noting that Sinner kept it clean from the baseline. It was conspicuous to see as Tsitsipas was locked in that backhand corner, and he was not going to get so much joy against one of the hardest hitters on tour. He didn’t play a really bad match, but the fact he didn’t create any break points didn’t help. His chances of qualifying will diminish with another loss.
Holger Rune might look to employ similar tactics here. Under the guidance of Boris Becker, the Dane has improved by leaps and bounds. He looks like a completely different player from the one who endured one of the worst losing sequences on tour this season. He was in terrific form against Novak Djokovic on Sunday until the Serbian raised his level several notches higher and drained the contest of suspense. That said, this is a winnable matchup for Rune, who has defeated Tsitsipas twice in their series and appears to have turned a corner with Becker in his camp.
Prediction: Rune in 3
Novak Djokovic vs Jannik Sinner
Head-to-head: Djokovic 3-0 Sinner
It is going to take a special player to pierce through Novak Djokovic’s insane defensive wall and put an end to the longest winning streak on the ATP Tour this season. Sunday’s late-night epic was Djokovic’s 18th successive win on tour. He hasn’t lost a match since Wimbledon, and now that the year-end No. 1 ranking is secured, he admitted to getting the monkey off his back. Jannik Sinner has certainly shown he is up to the task.
Sinner has been the ATP’s winningest player on indoor hard courts with a 14-1 record. An interesting observation by the statisticians shows how Sinner has made subtle improvements to his serve and has become virtually unbreakable. He lost a combined 10 points in 10 games behind his serve against Tsitsipas and did not face a break point. What was considered the weakest part of his game is now an asset. Does Djokovic take his eyes off the ball now that his main goal is realized? Possibly. Sinner appears unencumbered by the pressure of playing on home soil, and Rune just provided him with the blueprint for beating the Serb. I’ll back the upset, which would throw this group wide open.
Prediction: Sinner in 3
Main Photo Credit: Mike Frey – USA TODAY Sports