Novak Djokovic v Dominic Thiem
The first match at the ATP World Tour Finals is played between what many will consider as still the best player in the world against a youngster who has taken big steps on the Tour this past year. Novak Djokovic has gone into the opening match as a strong favourite to beat Dominic Thiem and recent form does make it seem like the upset could be some way away despite the relatively poor form Djokovic has produced.
[expand title=”Read More…” swaptitle=”Hide” trigpos=”below” rel=”star-highlander” ]
That is relative to some of the best tennis I have seen from a player so any drop off doesn’t make Djokovic a poor player, although there are more vulnerabilities these days, or so it seems to be. He has had some disappointing losses to the likes of Roberto Bautista Agut that can’t really be understood barring Djokovic not being close to his best, while the serve continues to be an issue.
I imagine a lot of rest and recuperation will be needed in the off-season and I don’t think Djokovic will play too much tennis between this tournament and the defence of the Australian Open title. There does seem to be an issue with his serve, but I am not sure Dominic Thiem is the man to expose them despite being a big fan of the Austrian.
For any player making the breakthrough to the level Thiem has this season it is difficult to maintain fitness at this time of the season. It has been a long season for Thiem and he hasn’t looked right over the last month with heavy losses to Albert Ramos-Vinolas, Alexander Zverev, Victor Troicki and Jack Sock since reaching the Final in Metz. The loss to Sock in particular came when it looked like Thiem didn’t have a lot left in the tank and the last ten days will have been vital for him to prepare for this tournament both physically and mentally.
The match up would usually be a tough one for Thiem, but it might be even more difficult if he is struggling for fitness. He can definitely make life difficult for Djokovic for a while, but the feeling is that the Serbian player will start wearing him down in the longer rallies even if the courts are playing faster than usual in London. We have seen Thiem drop a few sets with a double break of serve down the stretch and I think Djokovic will eventually get on top of his own service problems to produce a 7-5, 6-2 win to open the World Tour Finals.
Handicap Betting Pick: Novak Djokovic – 5.5 Games at 2.38 with Unibet
Gael Monfils v Milos Raonic
This feels like a Group containing some of the more physically hurt players in the ATP World Tour Finals and there are some doubts about what Gael Monfils and Milos Raonic are going to be able to do in London. There is definitely some more worries about the Canadian though and I do think Monfils comes in with a better health.
Raonic played in Paris, unlike Monfils, but he suffered a tear in his left quad that needs rest and puts his whole appearance in London in doubt. However, it does look like Raonic will take his place in the draw for at least the opening match and I do believe the leg issue will mean his serve is perhaps not as dominant as it can be.
That takes away a huge part of the Raonic game and should mean Gael Monfils has every chance to beat him for the second time in a row and even up their 2016 record against one another. Monfils has had plenty of rest since last playing in Stockholm and has been looking forward to his first appearance at the World Tour Finals which suggests he is physically ready to go as he looks to finish the 2016 season in strong fashion.
If it wasn’t for that leg issue for Raonic, I think he would have gone into this match as an even stronger favourite, but I can’t have him as a favourite with the injury as it is. He might be healthy enough to play, but I am sure it is going to factor into what he can get out of his serve and Monfils can take advantage by getting enough balls back in play and win this match as the underdog.
Handicap Betting Pick: Gael Monfils + 1.5 Games at 1.81 with Pinnacle
Prices correct at time of writing.