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Ricky’s preview and pick for Monday at the Nitto ATP Finals: Djokovic vs. Tsitsipas

A showdown between Novak Djokovic and Stefanos Tsitsipas is something you would generally expect to see in the championship match of the Nitto ATP Finals–and you very well might. But first they will square off on the opening day of round-robin competition in the Red Group on Monday night.

With Djokovic seeded seventh in Turin, a lopsided draw has him as the fourth and final seed in a loaded Red quartet that also includes Tsitsipas, Daniil Medvedev, and Andrey Rublev. There are three former champions among them (Djokovic five times, Tsitsipas and Medvedev once each), whereas nobody in the Green Group has ever won this prestigious event.

This marks just the second time in their careers and the first time since their maiden meeting back in 2018 that Djokovic and Tsitsipas are colliding prior to the quarterfinals of a tournament. They have faced each other three times already in 2022, twice in finals prior to a semifinal date at the Paris Masters. Djokovic has won all three encounters this season and seven in a row overall, giving him a 9-2 record in the head-to-head series. However, Tsitsipas was extremely competitive a couple of weeks ago in Paris–where he succumbed 6-2, 3-6, 7-6(4).

Djokovic ended up losing the Paris final to Holger Rune, which is just one reason why he should be extremely motivated in Turin. Due in part to inactivity and a lack of Wimbledon ranking points, the 35-year-old finds himself down at No. 8 in the rankings. However, he could climb to fifth with a title. Djokovic has not lifted this trophy since 2015, which is hard to believe given how dominant he has been at times over the past six years. A sixth Nitto ATP Finals triumph would give Djokovic a huge boost going into 2023.

Between the two of them, Djokovic (three for three) and Tsitsipas (two for four) have been to five finals in seven tournaments during the fall swing. Tsitsipas finished runner-up to Djokovic in Astana and to Rune in Stockholm to go along with his Paris semifinal effort and a Vienna second-round exit at the hands of Borna Coric. The third-ranked Greek is just 1-3 in four Nitto ATP Finals matches since lifting the trophy in 2019.

This Djokovic-Tsitsipas matchup is competitive more often than not, but it’s hard to see the underdog ending his seven-match losing streak.

Pick: Djokovic in 3

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