Nitto ATP Finals semis are set: Why each remaining player can or can’t win

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The ATP Finals is down to its last four competitors and are the top four players in the world. Here’s why and why not each player could win the title.

The Nitto ATP Finals are down to their last four competitors and ironically, it’s the four highest-ranked players in the world: World No. 1 Novak Djokovic, No. 2 Rafael Nadal, No. 3 Dominic Thiem, and No. 4 Daniil Medvedev. Djokovic, Nadal, and Thiem finished with a 2-1 record in the group stage, while Medvedev (at the time of writing this) is 2-0 through his first matches and will play his dead rubber final match against Diego Schwartzman later today.

With the semifinals set to begin tomorrow with Nadal and Medvedev, let’s take a look at each remaining player and assess their chances of winning.

LONDON, ENGLAND – NOVEMBER 20: Novak Djokovic of Serbia plays a backhand during his singles match against Alexander Zverev of Germany during day six of the Nitto ATP World Tour Finals at The O2 Arena on November 20, 2020 in London, England. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

1. Novak Djokovic

Group record: 2-1 (Schwartzman 6-3 6-2, Medvedev 3-6 3-6, Zverev 6-3 7-6(4))

Semifinals opponent: Dominic Thiem

Why he’s in a good position to win: His historic prowess at the event and his best play since Roland Garros.

Djokovic is heading into his ninth ATP Finals semifinals appearance and is looking to claim his record-tying sixth ATP Finals title (which would match Roger Federer). It’s a known fact that Djokovic turns his game up when the lights are brightest. That, combined with the fact that he’s been. victim of doubters throughout the course of the last few months for various.

In terms of his tennis game itself, he’s been as close as you could get to perfect in his wins over Schwartzman and Zverev. In those two matches, Djokovic has won 77.5% of points off of his first serve and has converted 5/10 of the break chances he’s had. Another thing to note is that, given his incredible prowess on the return, he was able to take advantage of Schwartzman throughout the match (won 48% of points on Schwartzman’s serve, compared to 28% against the big-serving Zverev). Djokovic played his best tennis of the last few months today against Zverev and should look to ride the hot hand into the semis.

Why he isn’t: Dominic Thiem’s emergence as the (debatable) best player left in the draw.

Are we counting dead rubbers against players? I say no. Thiem’s loss to Rublev honestly felt like more of a concession given the fact that Thiem needed to rest before going into the semis (there’s an entire debate for abolishing dead rubber play completely but that’s for another day). In Thiem’s two victories, he’s taken advantage of the fast hard courts better than anyone else and has absolutely killed tennis balls (more on that later). If anyone is able to stop a hardened Djokovic, it’s the firepower of Thiem.

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