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Ricky’s preview and picks for the Nitto ATP Finals: Djokovic going for sixth title

Rafael Nadal has been sidelined for almost the entire fall, but he is apparently good to go for the Nitto ATP Finals. It’s the most glaring title that is absent from Nadal’s career resume, and if he wins it for the first time he will finish the year as the No. 1 player in the world. Fellow Spaniard Carlos Alcaraz leads by 1,000 points in the rankings, but he is sidelined by an oblique injury. Nadal will also finish in the top spot if he goes undefeated in group play and reaches the final—unless Stefanos Tsitsipas compiles a perfect 5-0 record en route to lifting the trophy.

Neither scenario is likely, as Nadal is not heading into Turin with any momentum and Tsitsipas finds himself in an extremely tough Red Group that also includes Novak Djokovic, Daniil Medvedev, and Andrey Rublev.

Nitto ATP Finals
Where: Turin, Italy
Surface: Indoor hard
Points: 200 for RR win, 400 for SF win, 500 for final win
Prize money: 14,750,000

Top seed: Rafael Nadal
2021 champion: Alexander Zverev (not playing)

Green Group
Rafael Nadal
Casper Ruud
Felix Auger-Aliassime
Taylor Fritz

Red Group
Stefanos Tsitsipas
Daniil Medvedev
Andrey Rublev
Novak Djokovic

The only way the Red Group could be more difficult is if Auger-Aliassime landed there instead of Rublev. Still, even with Rublev it’s absolutely loaded. The other three competitors are all former champions of this prestigious tournament (Djokovic five times, Tsitsipas in 2019, and Medvedev in 2020). By contrast, nobody in the Green Group has ever won it and only Nadal has reached the final (runner-up to Roger Federer in 2010 and to Djokovic in 2013).

It’s hard not to like Djokovic’s chances in Turin. One, he will be extremely motivated; he has not lifted the Nitto ATP Finals trophy since 2015 and he needs all the ranking points he can get going into 2022 as the current No. 7 player in the world. Moreover, the 35-year-old Serb is in great form; he has reached three finals in three appearances during the fall swing (champion in Tel Aviv and Astana, runner-up in Paris).

There is a good chance that neither round-robin group is won by its top seed. Nadal has not won a match since the third round of the U.S. Open. During that time, Auger-Aliassime has won 19. The sixth-ranked Canadian reeled off consecutive titles in Florence, Antwerp, and Basel before making a run to the Paris semis. He should really be considered the favorite in the Green Group, while the second semifinal looks to be entirely up for grabs to Nadal, Ruud, and Fritz.


Green Group
Fritz over Nadal in 3
Auger-Aliassime over Ruud in 2
Auger-Aliassime over Fritz in 3
Nadal over Ruud in 3
Fritz over Ruud in 3
Auger-Aliassime over Nadal in 2

Red Group
Djokovic over Tsitsipas in 3
Medvedev over Rublev in 2
Djokovic over Medvedev in 3
Tsitsipas over Rublev in 3
Djokovic over Rublev in 2
Medvedev over Tsitsipas in 3

Semifinals: (1G) Auger-Aliassime over (2B) Medvedev in 3, (1R) Djokovic over 2G) Fritz in 2

Final: Djokovic over Auger-Aliassime in 2

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