Novak Djokovic is expected to equal Roger Federer’s record of six ATP Finals triumphs by seeing off Casper Ruud in today’s Turin decider.
However, the Norwegian should have an edge in freshness after making smooth progress so far and that could help him to at least be competitive.
Let’s take a punt on the Serbian superstar to prevail 2-1 at 3/1 in the first of our ATP Finals predictions.
Novak Djokovic odds
Djokovic will look back on 2022 with mixed feelings, enjoying more grand slam glory at Wimbledon but being forced to sit out the Australian Open and the US Open.
That reduced schedule has at least ensured there is something left in the tank for this tournament, which he last won in 2015.
All looked to be going smoothly when he eased past Stefanos Tsitsipas and Andrey Rublev in straight sets, but Friday’s three-hour marathon against Daniil Medvedev was stamina sapping.
The 35-year-old showed signs of wear and tear when broken twice by Taylor Fritz in the semis, but each time recovered to take the set on a tiebreaker.
Djokovic looked uncomfortable at times and admitted: “I knew coming into the match that I would not be the freshest but that I will have to find a way differently to adjust my game.
“I wasn’t game-wise feeling the best. Physically I was okay, but I was not hitting the ball as cleanly as I have throughout the week.
“At the same time, I think that these kind of wins double in value because you’re not feeling great but you still manage to win against a great player.”
On a fast surface which has helped players to hold serve, five matches this week have featured a first-set tiebreak.
Looking at the 29/10 for another here.
Casper Ruud odds
Ruud’s overall exploits this season have been rock-solid, picking up three titles and reaching grand slam finals at the French Open and the US Open.
The 23-year-old suffered a dip in form following Flushing Meadows but has rediscovered some sparkle in Turin and could end the year at number two in the world rankings if lifting the trophy.
He accounted for Felix Auger-Aliassime and Taylor Fritz before taking his foot off the gas in a dead rubber versus Rafael Nadal.
In the semis, Ruud had a more comfortable time of things than Djokovic in beating Rublev 6-2 6-4 to reach his first final on his second appearance at this event.
The only blip came when he was broken at 5-2 up in the second set, but the Norwegian did not let that affect him.
“It’s tough sometimes because things are obviously going great, but sometimes they can go almost too well,” said Ruud.
“So, you feel like you can do anything with the ball and you can get a little bit ahead of yourself.
“Luckily for me, I go out there at 5-4 and serve with new balls, so that helps a lot.
“I knew that I had the back-up break. I wasn’t stressing too much. Everything sort of was going my way.”
Ruud has to overcome the mental hurdle of having lost all three of his previous meetings with Djokovic in straight sets.
He did take the Serbian to a tiebreak in the opener at this tournament 12 months ago, though, and has since improved his hard-court game.
We reckon 19/20 for the underdog with 3.5 games start on the handicap list is worth a saver in our Casper Ruud vs Novak Djokovic predictions.
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