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

Novak Djokovic and Andrey Rublev will be battling at the top of the Nitto ATP Finals Red Group and trying to clinch almost certain semifinal qualification when they clash on Wednesday afternoon.

Djokovic opened with a 6-4, 7-6(4) victory over Stefanos Tsitsipas on Monday, cementing his status as clear title favorite despite being the seventh seed in Turin. The Serb is looking to secure a sixth title at the year-end championship (first in 2015), the first step of which would be a semifinal berth for 11th time in 15 trips. A final appearance would be Djokovic’s fourth in four fall tournaments, having lifted the Tel-Aviv and Astana titles before falling to Holger Rune at the Paris Masters.

The story is a much different one for Rublev, who has never enjoyed any success at the Nitto ATP Finals and did not head into this year’s event with a ton of momentum. He compiled 1-2 records in each of his first two year-end championship efforts (2020 and 2021). The seventh-ranked Russian lost his second match in both Vienna and Paris, but he raised his level in a big way on Monday to upset compatriot Daniil Medvedev 6-7(7), 6-3, 7-6(7).

Bouncing back from that physical and mental effort won’t be easy–especially not with Djokovic on the other side of the net. Rublev won their meeting in the Belgrade final this spring, but a round-robin encounter last year in Turin was dominated by the 21-time Grand Slam champion 6-3, 6-2.

Something similar–if not identical–to their 2021 Nitto ATP Finals matchup should be expected.

Pick: 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.