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Tennis News • Door Still Open For Last Two Nitto ATP Finals Spots, Thiem Takes The Court in Vienna on Thursday

By Ricky Dimon

With Alexander Zverev’s first-round loss to Taylor Fritz at the Swiss Indoors Basel earlier this week, the last two places at the upcoming Nitto ATP Finals in London remain up for grabs. So far, Matteo Berrettini, Roberto Bautista Agut, and David Goffin are capitalizing.

Berrettini overcame Kyle Edmund in three sets in his Vienna opener on Monday, while Roberto Bautista Agut beat Marius Copil in Basel on Tuesday and David Goffin rolled over Marin Cilic on Wednesday–also in Basel. 

The last quarterfinal berths at this week’s 500-point events will be handed out on Thursday, with Dominic Thiem, Fernando Verdasco, and Andrey Rublev among those taking the court in Vienna.

Hyeon Chung vs. Andrey Rublev 

Chung leads the head-to-head series 3-0, although two of his wins have come at the NextGen ATP Finals (both in 2017, during round-robin action and again in the final) under what can only be considered a bizarre scoring format. Their lone encounter on the main tour also came in 2017, when the South Korean got the job done 5-7, 6-1, 6-1 at the Winston-Salem Open.

Their careers have gone in much different directions over the past two seasons. Chung has struggled mightily with injuries and finds himself down at No. 139 in the rankings as a result. He at least managed to earn his sixth ATP-level match win of 2019 by beating a similarly hobbled Milos Raonic 6-4, 7-5 on Tuesday. Rublev has been on fire throughout the second half of the season, boasting an awesome 22-6 record in his last 28 matches after outlasting Alexander Bublik 6-1, 6-7(3), 7-6(6) on Wednesday. The world No. 22 from Russia is likely playing way too well for an opponent who cannot be relied on to string together consecutive victories.

Pick: Rublev in 2

(1) Dominic Thiem vs. Fernando Verdasco

Thiem and Verdasco will be going head-to-head for the fifth time in their careers. Surprisingly, Verdasco has won all four of their previous meetings–three times on clay (including at the Rome Masters this spring) and once on a hard court (2017 Paris Masters). Thiem may have been fatigued in Rome following successful performances in Barcelona (title) and Madrid (semifinals), so he should not be overly alarmed about his futility against the veteran. Home-court advantage in Austria should also help, and it certainly looked like it did during Tuesday’s 6-4, 7-6(2) defeat of Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.

Verdasco booked his spot in the second round by overcoming Nikoloz Basilashvili 4-6, 6-2, 6-1. The 40th-ranked Spaniard is now looking to win multiple matches at a tournament for the first time since Wimbledon, where he reached the fourth round. In mostly disastrous form since then, Verdasco will be hard-pressed to beat Thiem for a fifth straight time.

Pick: Thiem in 2

Ricky contributes to 10sballs.com and also maintains his own tennis website, The Grandstand. You can follow him on twitter at @Dimonator.

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