ATP Finals: Federer And Djokovic Look To Set Up Final Showdown5 min read
Roger Federer v Alex Zverev (1400 GMT)
Starting from a pretty low bar when he lost to Kei Nishikori, Federer has improved as the week has gone on and he was impressive in the way he dismissed Kevin Anderson on Thursday to ensure he finished top of his group.
That match represents good preparation for this one given the huge serve that Zverev will send down. Zverev has out-aced the Swiss in all five of their previous encounters at ATP level – a possible angle although sadly there’s no such market at time of writing.
That said, Federer may well need to improve again as Zverev’s all-round game is stronger than Anderson’s and it looked in good working order against John Isner on Friday in what was also probably the German’s best display of the week.
It is the head-to-head record which helps convince me to side with Federer, though. He may only lead 3-2 (4-3 if you include the Hopman Cup) but a deeper look shows he’s broken serve almost twice as often in their matches (19.7 per cent of games, as opposed to 10.2 by Zverev).
Zverev’s hopes may well therefore come down to edging a tie-break somewhere along the line.
On that front, 7/2 about a first-set breaker looks to have some value built in – Zverev has played two opening-set tie-breaks on what is a fairly fast court this week and Federer one, while four of those seven previous meetings have seen a tie-break in set one.
Given the price, that’s worth a go.
Overall I can see Federer being too strong here and the best market looks to be to back him on the -2.5 game handicap line.
Those return stats on the head-to-head suggest Federer will find a way to break the Zverev serve and even if he loses a set, the Swiss will have the chance to recover. Remember he won a set 6-1 against Zverev 6-1 on this very court last season.
Federer (-2.5) to win game handicap –
First set tie-break –
Novak Djokovic v Kevin Anderson (2000 GMT)
It’s hard to see how Djokovic won’t make it to the final with the likelihood being that he does so with something to spare.
He’s played by far and away the best tennis at The O2 this week and he’s yet to drop serve. In two of his three group matches, he didn’t even face a break point, including against Marin Cilic on Friday night when he utterly dominant behind his own delivery, at one stage winning 31 consecutive points on it.
He’s bidding to become the first player to win the season-ending Finals without losing a set since Ivan Lendl in 1986 and it’s hard to bet against that happening.
He’s just 4/11 to win this one in straight sets and the history books show he’s managed to do that in six of the pair’s eight previous meetings, including in this year’s Wimbledon final and, more recently, in Shanghai.
Anderson has lost seven in a row against the Serb, his sole win coming more than a decade ago.
Having already faced Isner, Zverev and Cilic, Djokovic should be well prepared for the Anderson service bombs which will come his way.
Anderson was broken four times by Federer on Thursday and he’s now up against an even better returner.
The best options to get some sort of decent price about Djokovic appear to be the game handicap and total games markets. I’ll plump for under 21.5 games at 20/21.
Djokovic delivered on this front against Cilic despite being taken to a first-set tie-break and may only need two service breaks again to land this bet.
Under 21.5 games –