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This is the only maiden match-up of this year’s ATP Finals and Rublev should approach this as something of a free hit.
He was impressive, particularly on serve, against Stefanos Tsitsipas in his opening match on Monday night and with Casper Ruud next up on Thursday – a player Rublev has beaten four times out of four – taking a fairly care-free approach into this one would seem sensible.
Rublev will know he needs to punch holes in the famous Djokovic defence and to do that he’ll need that first serve to fire again (it won 90% of points against Tsitsipas) and go big off the ground, something he is capable of doing.
Casper Ruud had some success on those two fronts against Djokovic on Monday, competing well in the first set, and the world number one’s second serve won only 43% of points during that match.
Doubtless Rublev will look to make similar inroads and, buoyed by the confidence of his opening performance, I think the Russian may cause some early problems.
Having not faced Rublev before, Djokovic may not get an immediate read on that serve which worked so well against Tsitsipas so I feel there may be some value in Rublev to win the first set at +250.
Rublev didn’t face a break point in his opener and there was just one early blip from Djokovic so the first-set tie-break is again worth considering at +400 in these quick conditions.
Ruud played well against Djokovic in his opening match with his big first serve and forehand causing some early problems.
Tsitsipas struggled against Rublev’s similar attack, failing to create a break point, with his backhand weakness rather exposed. He particularly struggled with the slice as he tried to break up the rhythm.
How big a part the arm injury he brought into this tournament played can’t be known but as I wrote the other day, being down only a few percent against players of this caliber can make all the difference.
With doubts still surrounding Tsitsipas, who was very much second best in that Rublev contest, I can’t be having him at -175 to win this one.
To me, Ruud looks spot of value and I am happy to back the Norwegian at +144.
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|ATP Finals Information|
|What||Nitto ATP Finals|
|Time||Sunday November 14 to Sunday November 21|
|How to Watch||Tennis Channel|
Andy is a sports journalist of more than 20 years’ experience and is a former betting editor of the UK-based website, Sporting Life. He has specialized in tennis for many years, previewing hundreds of ATP Tour events and reporting from tournaments such as the ATP Finals and Davis Cup final. Andy has also covered numerous other sports, with a particular interest in soccer and cricket.More info on Andy Schooler
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