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Ricky’s Tennis Preview And Picks For Day 3 Of The Nitto ATP Finals, Including Djokovic vs. Thiem

By Ricky Dimon

Novak Djokovic vs. Roger Federer will not take place until Thursday, but that does not mean there is any lack of appeal in Tuesday’s proceedings at the Nitto ATP Finals. Federer is facing Matteo Berrettini during the day session before Djokovic and Dominic Thiem wrap things up at night.

Ricky previews the action and makes his picks.

(3) Roger Federer vs. (8) Matteo Berrettini

There is some good news for Berrettini: he’s here!

That “just happy to be here” kind of mentality may be the right way to look at things, because Berrettini has basically no chance of qualifying for the semifinals unless he wins his next two round-robin matches. Day one of the 23-year-old Italian’s London debut was a disaster, as he not only won just three games against Djokovic–crippling his chances of advancing due to the small number of games won–but also found himself matched up with Federer on Tuesday.

Berrettini probably expected to meet Thiem in his second match, but those ideas changed when Thiem upset Federer 7-5, 7-5 on Sunday night to book a spot alongside Djokovic in Tuesday’s winners’ showdown. Thus it will be Berrettini vs. Federer on Tuesday afternoon for the second time in their careers–and also second time in this city. They previously collided in the Wimbledon fourth round this summer, when Federer cruised 6-1, 6-1, 6-2.

Federer surely cannot wait to get back out there and make amends for his opening loss to Thiem. The Swiss Maestro looked a bit rusty after skipping the Paris Indoors, but he should improve dramatically in match number two. In 16 previous trips to the year-end championship, Federer has never lost back-to-back round-robin matches.

Nothing Berrettini did in their Wimbledon encounter or against Djokovic on Sunday suggests Federer is in danger of suddenly losing two in a row

Prediction: Federer in 2

(2) Novak Djokovic vs. (5) Dominic Thiem

Fresh off his win over Federer, Thiem now gets a shot at Djokovic for the 10th time in his career while trailing what has suddenly become a competitive head-to-head series 6-3. Thiem lost their first five contests and 11 of their first 12 sets, but he has since won three of four meetings. They most recently faced each other in the French Open SFs, with Thiem surviving a wild one 6-2, 3-6, 7-5, 5-7, 7-5.

Although the surface does not favor the 26-year-old Austrian this time around, he can’t be discounted based on his recent hard-court form. Three of his five titles in 2019 have come on hards–in Indian Wells and this fall in Beijing and Vienna. He is also sporting a 16-4 record on this fall swing.

Djokovic was favored to triumph at this event for a sixth time when this week began and nothing will change following the opening round-robin matches. The world No. 2 is now 13-1 since the U.S. Open–a stretch that includes titles in Tokyo and Paris. His reward is a chance to avenge the French Open loss as opposed to a rematch of the famous Wimbledon final against Federer.

Although Thiem was stellar on Sunday, Federer was noticeably flat after taking a fair amount of time off (he skipped the Paris Masters). Djokovic, on the other hand, lifted the Paris trophy and only maintained momentum with his rout of Berrettini. The Serb will also take confidence from his 3-0 record against Thiem on hard courts.

Prediction: Djokovic 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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