Seeing Red: Tsitsipas Seeks Djokovic Revenge in Turin


If the Green Group meant ‘go’ on the opening day of the 2022 Nitto ATP Finals, the Red Group could stand for ‘danger’ on Monday in Turin.

The loaded singles foursome features a trio of former champions — Novak Djokovic, Daniil Medvedev and Stefanos Tsitsipas — as well as the powerful Andrey Rublev, who is making his third straight appearance at the season finale. It is the first time since 1996 that three former champs have been placed in the same group. 

On Day 2, Djokovic will meet Tsitsipas in the evening session after Medvedev and Rublev square off earlier in the day.

In doubles action, Thanasi Kokkinakis and Nick Kyrgios make their much-anticipated Nitto ATP Finals debut against top seeds Neal Skupski and Wesley Koolhof, before Croatians Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic face Ivan Dodig and Austin Krajicek.

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[2] Stefanos Tsitsipas (GRE) vs. [7] Novak Djokovic [SER]

Just nine days after their semi-final thriller at the Rolex Paris Masters, Tsitsipas and Djokovic meet on an even bigger stage at the Pala Alpitour. The Greek came within three points of snapping a seven-match losing streak against the former World No. 1 in that contest, leading 4/3 in a final-set tie-break, but Djokovic surged through the finish line to prevail 6-2, 3-6, 7-6(4).

Tsitsipas was nearly rewarded for his steady strategy in the final as he patiently built points and worked his way into the frontcourt with regularity.

“I have weapons that I can use,” he said ahead of the Paris showdown. “But in the past I feel I have used too much spin or power. It’s important that I stay at a medium level and not overdo it. It will be a physical match and I will need to move well.”

Tsitsipas, who leads the ATP Tour this season in wins (60), will have another opportunity to perfect his tactics against the Serbian on Monday. He faces a tall task, with INSIGHTS Shot Quality statistics painting a pretty picture for Djokovic, who leads the pair’s ATP Head2Head 9-2.

Shot Quality: Djokovic vs. Tsitsipas

While Djokovic will not be looking beyond the second seed — who can finish the season with the year-end No. 1 Pepperstone ATP Ranking by lifting the Turin title as an undefeated champion — the Serbian is chasing some history of his own at the season finale. A five-time champion at the event, Djokovic can match Roger Federer’s record six titles by going all the way this week.

“[It would be] a perfect ending [to the season],” Djokovic told ATP Media on Friday. “The cherry on the cake, for sure, but it’s a long way. It’s a long week.”

The Serbian has won six of the seven sets he’s played against Tsitsipas this year, earning straight-sets wins in the finals in Rome and Astana before the three-set thriller in Paris.

“I played him in the past two tournaments I played, in the final in Astana and the semi-finals in Paris,” said Djokovic. “Both matches were quite close, particularly the one in Paris. I know that I am expecting a tough match without a doubt.”

With his playing style described as ‘Solid Baseliner’ by INSIGHTS, Djokovic will one again look to use his watertight game to blunt the Tsitsipas attack. But the Serbian’s greatest strength may be a trait that cannot be quantified — his ice-cool composure under pressure.

Medvedev vs. Rublev

[4] Daniil Medvedev vs. [6] Andrey Rublev

Both Medvedev and Rublev have become regulars at the Nitto ATP Finals, with Medvedev appearing each year since 2019 and Rublev returning each year since 2020. But while Rublev is yet to advance beyond the round-robin stage, Medvedev has reached the final in each of the past two years, lifting the trophy in 2020 in the event’s last year in London.

With a 9-4 record at the season finale, Medvedev knows better than most what it takes to succeed at the unique competition. 

“From the first match, you’re going to play a tough opponent,” Medvedev said on media day. “There is a special energy about this tournament and I absolutely love it, and I hope to show my best tennis. I’m feeling confident, but you never know before the first match.”

Adding to the uncertainty is the fact that he has not met his opening opponent since the 2021 Cincinnati semi-finals, where Rublev claimed a three-set victory. Prior to that meeting, Medvedev won the four previous ATP Head2Head matchups between the pair — all in straight sets, all in quarter-finals and all on hard courts — including at the 2020 US Open and 2021 Australian Open.

While Rublev is known for his power and passion on the court, he is far more than a baseline basher. As such, the 25-year-old is looking forward to matching wits with a master tactician in Medvedev.

“Against Daniil, that’s going to be a real chess match,” Rublev said, knowing that he will have to time his aggression well. “I’m not even looking at my other matches. I believe both of us will show a great level that spectators will enjoy.”

With both players well aware of the difficulty of their group, the stakes are sky-high from the start.

Doubles Action

The ‘Special Ks’ are set to bring their brash brand of doubles to the Nitto ATP Finals for the first time, with Kokkinakis and Kyrgios seeking their third title of the season. The Australian Open champs are bidding to become the first pair of doubles debutants to reach the title match at the year-end event since 2016, and the first to claim the trophy since 2013.

“It’s [going to be] a pretty awesome experience,” Kokkinakis said. “I don’t think it’s something we expected coming into the year. To do it with such a good mate, there’s going to be good energy out there.”

The duo, who first teamed up at the 2013 Australian Open, face the toughest possible opening test against top seeds Wesley Koolhof and Neal Skupski. The Dutch-British pair is making its debut at the Nitto ATP Finals as the No. 1 team in the Pepperstone ATP Live Doubles Teams Rankings after winning a Tour-leading seven titles in 2022.

The marquee doubles matchup will be the first meeting between the pairs.

[FOLLOW ACTION]

Returning semi-finalists Mektic and Pavic will meet fifth seeds Dodig and Krajicek in the second doubles match of Day 2 — a rematch of their meeting last month in the Astana quarter-finals, won by Mektic/Pavic.

Th 33-year-old Mektic is seeking his second Nitto ATP Finals title after winning the 2020 crown alongside Wesley Koolhof. Dodig reached the 2014 final with Marcelo Melo, while Krajicek is making his debut at the season finale.



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