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Ricky’s Preview And Picks for Nitto ATP Tennis Finals Day 6: Nadal vs. Tsitsipas, Medvedev vs. Zverev

By Ricky Dimon

One player (Stefanos Tsitsipas) in Group Andre Agassi has already clinched a spot in the semis of the Nitto ATP Finals and the other three players (Rafael Nadal, Daniil Medvedev, and Novak Djokovic) are still alive heading into Friday. Nadal needs a win over Tsitsipas, and the outcome of that match could impact the nightcap between Medvedev and Zverev.

Ricky previews the action and makes his picks.

(1) Rafael Nadal vs. (6) Stefanos Tsitsipas

Like Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer on Thursday night, Nadal faces a must-win situation on Friday afternoon. The Spaniard remains in dire straits despite staging a miracle comeback from being down 1-5, 30-40 in the third set against Medvedev in his second round-robin match. The Spaniard ended up prevailing 6-7(3), 6-3, 7-6(4) to keep alive his semifinal hopes, which looked close to zero following a 6-2, 6-4 blowout loss to Zverev and looked all the way at zero in the final set against Medvedev.

Tsitsipas, on the other hand, is already through to the semis thanks to straight-set victories over Medvedev and Zverev. The only way in which the 21-year-old would not win Group A is if he loses to Nadal and Medvedev beats Zverev in the nightcap. Those results would leave Nadal first and Tsitsipas second. In any other scenario, Tsitsipas would win the group and either Medvedev or Zverev would be No. 2.

The 19-time slam champion may have to improve even more to beat Tsitsipas, who is the only undefeated player remaining in London. But it’s almost impossible to predict what kind of performance the Greek will bring to the table. He may not to want to expend too much energy prior to the semis and a loss could actually be a good thing in that it would give him a chance to face Dominic Thiem instead of the Djokovic-Federer winner. That being said, Tsitsipas has always been inspired and even thrived against the Big 3, so he could do it again–especially on a favorable surface.

If Tsitsipas loses either the first or second set, though, it would not be shocking to see him go away quietly like Thiem did in a meaningless match against Matteo Berrettini on Thursday.

Pick: Tsitsipas in 2

(4) Daniil Medvedev vs. (7) Alexander Zverev

Medvedev vs. Zverev is guaranteed to have some importance in terms of semifinal qualification, at least when it begins. If Nadal beats Tsitsipas during the day session, Medvedev would be eliminated but Zverev would need to win for a place in the semis. If Tsitsipas beats Nadal, both Medvedev and Zverev would remain alive. Medvedev would have to sweep the German in straight sets in order to steal a SF spot, while Zverev would advance simply by taking one set.

Whatever the case, Zverev leads the head-to-head series 4-1 heading into this showdown. All four of his victories, however, came prior to the arrival of the new and improved Medvedev. The current world No. 7 prevailed once in 2016, once in 2017, and twice in 2018–all on hard courts and once indoors. They most recently faced each other in the Shanghai final this fall, when Medvedev triumphed 6-4, 6-1.

As those results suggest, the Russian is a completely different player this season. He is up to fourth in the rankings thanks mostly to an amazing hot streak in which he made six consecutive final appearances with titles in Cincinnati, St. Petersburg, and Shanghai. Some much-needed time off seems to have sapped Medvedev’s momentum, as he fell right away in Paris to Jeremy Chardy and is 0-2 in London with losses to Nadal and Tsitsipas. Against the world No. 1 on Wednesday night, Medvedev led 5-1 in the third set with Nadal serving down match point at 30-40 before collapsing and succumbing 6-7(3), 6-3, 7-6(4).

Zverev lost in much different fashion on Wednesday, an alarming 6-3, 6-2 result against Tsitsipas. He at least managed to begin his week with a 6-2, 6-4 rout of Nadal, but Nadal was far worse in that match than he was against Medvedev. The 22-year-old clearly has to raise his level if he wants to avoid a second straight drubbing at Medvedev’s hands.

If Nadal wins earlier in the day, Zverev might not be in London on Saturday because Medvedev would be inspired to save his own tournament life. But if Tsitsipas beats Nadal, Medvedev would be eliminated and the situation would change drastically.

Pick: Medvedev 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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