Our tennis expert Andy Schooler reveals his ATP Finals betting tips and he’s backing the outsiders at the season-ending event, which begins in London on Sunday.

London, United Kingdom (indoor hard)

The best eight male players of the season have gathered in London for the ATP Tour’s season-ending ATP Finals.

It will be the 11th year in a row the tournament has been staged at The O2. For the majority of that time, it has been won by the usual suspects – Roger Federer (2010-11), Novak Djokovic (2012-15) and Andy Murray (2016).

But each of the past two years have produced a surprise champion – Grigor Dimitrov in 2017 and Alex Zverev last season.

It’s a tournament which, in theory, sets the mouth watering. The players are split into two groups of four with the top two in each progressing to the semi-finals.

However, to be frank, it has regularly disappointed, players often turning up fatigued after a long, hard season and unable to produce their best, something which punters will do well to remember.

Here’s my run through the eight competitors…

AGASSI GROUP

Rafael Nadal

Odds: Title – 13/2; Group – 2/1

Race to London: 1st

2019 win-loss record: 51-6 (4 titles – US Open, French Open, Montreal, Rome)

2019 win-loss v top 10: 7-4

2019 indoor record: 4-0 – SF Paris

Tournament record (in London since 2009): 16-13 – Gp 17, SF 15, RU 13, Gp 11, RU 10, Gp 09, SF 07, SF 06

Recent form: SF Paris

Record v group opponents:

v Medvedev – overall: 2-0; indoor hard: 0-0; 2019: 2-0
v Tsitsipas – overall: 4-1; indoor hard: 0-0; 2019: 2-1
v Zverev – overall: 5-0; indoor hard: 0-0; 2019: 0-0

As has so often been the case over the years, Nadal’s preparation for the ATP Finals has not gone well. Since winning his second Grand Slam title of the season at the US Open, the Spaniard pulled out of a scheduled match at the Laver Cup with a hand injury, then missed Shanghai.

When he did return, he reached the semis in Paris but then withdrew with an abdominal problem. He’s already admitted it could cause him problems serving and it’s far from certain he will even take to the court for his first match on Monday.

Given he’s also got a relatively poor record in London – he’s never won this title – Nadal looks ripe to oppose.

Daniil Medvedev

Odds: Title – 9/2; Group – 13/8

Race to London: 4th

2019 win-loss record: 59-18 (4 titles – Shanghai, St Petersburg, Cincinnati, Sofia)

2019 win-loss v top 10: 8-6

2019 indoor record: 11-2 – L32 Paris, W St Petersburg, SF Rotterdam, W Sofia

Tournament record (in London since 2009): Debut

Recent form: L32 Paris, W Shanghai, W St Petersburg

Record v group opponents:

v Nadal – overall: 0-2; indoor hard: 0-0; 2019: 0-2
v Tsitsipas – overall: 5-0; indoor hard: 1-0; 2019: 2-0
v Zverev – overall: 1-4; indoor hard: 0-1; 2019: 1-0

Medvedev has played seven tournaments since he last competed in London (at Wimbledon). He’s won three of those and finished runner-up at another three.

The Russian has been the story of the second half of the campaign and he so nearly won the US Open, pushing Nadal all the way in New York. He’s had more wins and played more matches than any player in this field and it is that factor which led to him withdrawing from events in Moscow and Vienna recently.

However, the question now is has he been off court too long? Early defeat in Paris means he’s not won a match for a month.

Undoubtedly, he has the game to do well here if he can turn the form tap back on.

 

Stefanos Tsitsipas

Odds: Title – 14/1; Group – 4/1

Race to London: 6th

2019 win-loss record: 50-24 (2 titles – Estoril, Marseille)

2019 win-loss v top 10: 5-8

2019 indoor record: 11-4 – QF Paris, SF Basel, W Marseille, L32 Rotterdam, QF Sofia

Tournament record (in London since 2009): Debut

Recent form: QF Paris, SF Basel, SF Shanghai, RU Beijing, L16 Zhuhai

Record v group opponents:

v Nadal – overall: 1-4; indoor hard: 0-0; 2019: 1-2
v Medvedev – overall: 0-5; indoor hard: 0-1; 2019: 0-2
v Zverev – overall: 3-1; indoor hard: 0-0; 2019: 2-0

Tsitsipas has rediscovered some form towards the end of the season so will come in here with confidence renewed. That said, he’s without a title since the spring and a 5-8 record against top-10-ranked players this season isn’t particularly encouraging given the quality on display in London.

That statistic masks the fact that Tsitsipas has beaten the Big Three of Djokovic, Federer and Nadal this season, results which prove he is more than capable of making an impact on this tournament.

 

Alex Zverev

Odds: Title – 12/1; Group – 4/1

Race to London: 7th

2019 win-loss record: 42-23 (1 title – Geneva)

2019 win-loss v top 10: 1-5

2019 indoor record: 4-3 – L16 Paris, L32 Basel

Tournament record (in London since 2009): 5-3 – W 18, Gp 17

Recent form: L16 Paris, L32 Basel, RU Shanghai, SF Beijing

Record v group opponents:

v Nadal – overall: 0-5; indoor hard: 0-0; 2019: 0-0
v Medvedev – overall: 4-1; indoor hard: 1-0; 2019: 0-1
v Tsitsipas – overall: 1-3; indoor hard: 0-0; 2019: 0-2

Having won this event 12 months ago following back-to-back wins over Federer and Djokovic, much was expected of Zverev in 2020 but he’s failed to live up to those big expectations.

To be fair, he’s been regularly distracted by off-court issues this season but he appeared to have turned a corner during the recent Asian swing.

However, old problems came back to haunt Zverev when the tour headed back indoors with early losses suffered in Basel and Paris. A win over Federer in Beijing remains his only top-10 victory this season – not a good statistic to have on your record ahead of a series of matches exclusively against such opposition.

BORG GROUP

Novak Djokovic

Odds: Title – 5/4; Group – 4/7

Race to London: 2nd

2019 win-loss record: 53-9 (5 titles – Wimbledon, Australian Open, Paris, Tokyo, Madrid)

2019 win-loss v top 10: 8-4

2019 indoor record: 5-0 – W Paris

Tournament record (in London since 2009): 36-12 – RU 18, RU 16, W 15, W 14, W 13, W 12, Gp 11, SF 10, Gp 09, W 08, Gp 07

Recent form: W Paris, QF Shanghai, W Tokyo

Record v group opponents:

v Federer – overall: 26-22; indoor hard: 6-4; 2019: 1-0
v Thiem – overall: 6-3; indoor hard: 1-0; 2019: 1-1
v Berrettini – overall: 0-0; indoor hard: 0-0; 2019: 0-0

Djokovic - Rome Masters Preview

It’s not hard to see why Djokovic is favourite for this event. He’s made the final on each of his last six visits to The O2, winning the title four years in a row from 2012.

Thanks to his Paris Masters win, this year the Serb arrives with a chance of claiming the year-end number one ranking, so motivation is far from lacking.

But while the Australian Open and Wimbledon champion could yet be remembered as 2019’s best player, there’s no doubting his consistency levels have fallen from those he produced in 2015 and results such as his Shanghai defeat to Tsitsipas have been sprinkled throughout the year.

You’d expect Djokovic to be dialled in this week but in a field of this quality, upsets can happen, just as they did when Zverev toppled him in last year’s final.

 

Roger Federer

Odds: Title – 4/1; Group – 5/2

Race to London: 3rd

2019 win-loss record: 51-8 (4 titles – Basel, Halle, Miami, Dubai)

2019 win-loss v top 10: 5-5

2019 indoor record: 6-0 – W Basel

Tournament record (in London since 2009): 57-16 – SF 18, SF 17, RU 15, RU 14, SF 13, RU 12, W 11, W 10, SF 09, Gp 08, W 07, W 06, RU 05, W 04, W 03, SF 02

Recent form: W Basel, QF Shanghai

Record v group opponents:

v Djokovic – overall: 22-26; indoor hard: 4-6; 2019: 0-1
v Thiem – overall: 2-4; indoor hard: 1-0; 2019: 0-2
v Berrettini – overall: 1-0; indoor hard: 0-0; 2019: 1-0

Federer has lost only eight matches this season but six of them have come against players gathered here – five of his seven title rivals have defeated the Swiss at some point in 2019. That is something of a concern for potential backers of a player who has won at The O2 twice but not since 2011. The past two years have both brought shock semi-final defeats.

Somewhat unusually, Federer holds a losing overall record against two of his three group opponents but conditions will undoubtedly help his game – the court speed has picked up in recent years and Federer has long been an excellent indoor player.

He’s yet to lose indoors in 2019. If the serve fires, Federer will be a match for anyone here.

 

Dominic Thiem

Odds: Title – 18/1; Group – 13/2

Race to London: 5th

2019 win-loss record: 46-17 (5 titles – Vienna, Beijing, Kitzbuhel, Barcelona, Indian Wells)

2019 win-loss v top 10: 6-3

2019 indoor record: 8-3 – L16 Paris, W Vienna

Tournament record (in London since 2009): 3-6 – 18 Gp, 17 Gp, 16 Gp

Recent form: L16 Paris, W Vienna, QF Shanghai, W Beijing

Record v group opponents:

v Djokovic – overall: 3-6; indoor hard: 0-1; 2019: 1-1
v Federer – overall: 4-2; indoor hard: 0-1; 2019: 2-0
v Berrettini – overall: 2-1; indoor hard: 1-0; 2019: 1-1

Thiem has never made it out of the group stage in his three previous visits but, strangely given his tough draw, this could be Thiem’s best chance yet.

Unlike in 2016, 2017 and 2018, he arrives with confidence flowing following some fine recent results. Victories in Beijing and then indoors in Vienna were not massively expected but the triumphs showed that Thiem is improving his game in different conditions.

He’s long been a top-level claycourter but now he’s winning matches on faster courts and at venues, such as Vienna, where he’s previously struggled.

Logic would suggest conditions will be a bit too quick for Thiem here but that new-found ability to adapt could serve him well and create a bit of an upset in this group.

 

Matteo Berrettini

Odds: Title – 35/1; Group – 12/1

Race to London: 8th

2019 win-loss record: 42-21 (2 titles – Stuttgart, Budapest)

2019 win-loss v top 10: 5-4

2019 indoor record: 8-5 – L32 Paris, SF Vienna, QF St Petersburg, L16 Marseille, SF Sofia

Tournament record (in London since 2009): Debut

Recent form: L32 Paris, SF Vienna, SF Shanghai, L32 Beijing, QF St Petersburg

Record v group opponents:

v Djokovic – overall: 0-0; indoor hard: 0-0; 2019: 0-0
v Federer – overall: 0-1; indoor hard: 0-0; 2019: 0-1
v Thiem – overall: 1-2; indoor hard: 0-1; 2019: 1-1

The last man into the field is also the rank outsider but Berrettini will certainly be happy to be here – few could possibly have predicted such a meteoric rise for the Italian in 2019.

He was outside the top 50 at the start of the year (and as recently as April) but it’s been up and up since. Possessing a real weapon in his first serve, if the court again plays pretty quick then Berrettini may have a chance.

Still, despite playing well in Vienna recently, he’s yet to truly prove he’s a strong indoor player with no such finals on his record as yet.

Landing in a group with Djokovic and Federer – the latter thrashed him at Wimbledon – hasn’t exactly helped the 23-year-old’s cause either.

Verdict

As has been the case for much of the past decade, if Novak Djokovic brings his A-game to London, he’ll win.

However, he did impress for much of the 2018 tournament only to be toppled in the final, against all odds.

At 5/4, he’s not for me and neither is top seed Rafael Nadal given he arrives at an event which has never suited him under an injury cloud.

Perhaps Roger Federer can take advantage in conditions which suit his game but then we expected better from him here in both 2017 and 2018. With the Swiss having lost plenty of times to the players in this field this year, he won’t bring his usual mental advantage either.

Essentially, I feel it makes sense to look for an outside bet here and Dominic Thiem looks to be in the sort of form which could propel him towards the final.

The Austrian has really caught the eye with his strongest-ever finish to a season, notably performing well in conditions which haven’t usually worked for him over the years.

It’s the same here – Thiem has qualified three times and exited in the group stage three times – but his improving ability on faster surfaces makes him worthy of consideration at 18/1.

Admittedly, the draw hasn’t helped and it may be that Djokovic and Federer dominate this group.

The layers believe that will be the case but the odds discrepancies appear too big.

Thiem will look to draw from his impressive displays on clay against Djokovic (he’s won three of their last four), while facing Federer first up may work to his advantage – the 38-year-old was woeful in his opener here 12 months ago. It is also significant that he holds a winning record over Federer, having beaten him on all three surfaces.

 

Greek gift?

In the other group, Stefanos Tsitsipas is another to have enjoyed some decent results in the closing weeks of the season and could also offer each-way value.

Group favourite Medvedev has been excellent since Wimbledon but a strange end to his season means he arrives here without a win in a month and possibly undercooked – remarkable given the amount of tennis he played over the summer.

Nadal has to be taken on given his fitness concerns. He played here while injured in 2017, essentially saying he felt obligated to play in the tour’s flagship event when he withdrew after one match. A repeat would not surprise.

After those two, Tsitsipas looks to be ahead of defending champ Zverev in the queue and he’s notably produced his A-game against the very best this season – the Big Three all beaten.

Neither selection is backed with supreme confidence – the ATP Finals have never been a great betting heat – but small-stakes each-way interest might just reward.

Odds are correct at the time of posting

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