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TennisBalls | 10sBalls • Ricky’s Preview & Picks For Day 2 Of The Nitto ATP Finals, Including Nadal vs. Zverev

By Ricky Dimon

Ricky’s daily previews and picks from the Nitto ATP Finals continue with the beginning Group A round-robin action on Monday. Familiar foes Daniil Medvedev and Stefanos Tsitsipas are facing each other once again, while Rafael Nadal hopes to be ready to go for a showdown against Alexander Zverev.

(4) Daniil Medvedev vs. (6) Stefanos Tsitsipas

There has been no love lost for Tsitsipas whenever he has faced Medvedev–only tennis matches. And he has lost a lot of them. The 21-year-old’s 0-5 record includes a 0-2 mark this season with setbacks in Monte-Carlo and Shanghai. Having previously taken a set on each occasion, Tsitsipas succumbed to Medvedev 7-6(5), 7-5 at the penultimate Masters 1000 event of 2019.
That win for Medvedev came during an incredible hot streak that saw him reach six consecutive finals, with three titles (Cincinnati, St. Petersburg, and Shanghai) and three runner-up performances (Washington, D.C., Montreal, and the U.S. Open). The 23-year-old Russian has advanced to nine finals overall this season (4-5 record), a big reason why he is up to a career-high ranking of No. 4 in the world.

It looked like Tsitsipas–not his nemesis–would be the top young challenger to the Big 3 when he made a run to the Australian Open SF. Although a summer slump halted the sixth-ranked Greek’s progress, he is back in fine form with a 13-5 record during the fall swing that includes a RU (Beijing), two SFs (Shanghai and Basel), and a quarterfinal (Paris).

Tsitsipas can only hope that this one turns out to be great, as it would not come as a big surprise to see him on the wrong end of another straight-setter against Medvedev. The head-to-head history and accompanying mental block in Tsitsipas’ head when it comes to facing Medvedev will be tough to overcome, especially on such a big stage as the year-end championship inside the O2 Arena.

Prediction: Medvedev in 2

(1) Rafael Nadal vs. (7) Alexander Zverev

Both of Monday’s head-to-head series stand at 5-0–in favor of Nadal and Medvedev. 
Zverev butchered an easy backhand volley on match point that would have given him a win in his first-ever meeting with Nadal at the 2016 Indian Wells Masters and it has been downhill ever since for the 22-year-old. After losing twice in a row in straight sets, Zverev at least managed to take one during a 6-1, 1-6, 6-3 loss in the 2018 Rome Masters title match.

The German knows he can be competitive with Nadal and the fact that he is the defending champion of this tournament will only bolster his confidence levels. That 2018 London triumph should have been a precursor of huge things to come for Zverev in 2019, but instead he continued to struggle at the Grand Slams and regressed from No. 3 toN o. 7 in the rankings.

A lot of Monday’s outcome will come down to Nadal’s abdominal injury that forced him out of the Paris Masters a little more than a week ago. When healthy, of course, the world No. 1 has been outstanding. He is 51-6 this season and 14-0 since Wimbledon–all on hard courts.

Prediction: Nadal in 3

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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