ATP World Tour Finals: Djokovic and Nadal will go to three sets

The final match of the 2013 ATP World Tour season takes place at London’s o2 Arena tonight between the top two players in the world rankings. 

Rafael Nadal faces Novak Djokovic in the championship match of the ATP World Tour Finals, with defending champion Djokovic starting as favourite.

Last night’s wager was unfortunate, as Stan Wawrinka got off to the strong start I had anticipated by breaking Djokovic early on in their semi-final. He was just a couple of points away from taking the set on the handicap + 2.5 games, but folded at exactly the wrong time.


Rafael Nadal vs Novak Djokovic

So, the last tour level match of the season (apart from Davis Cup), perhaps fittingly, features the top two in the world and at 8pm tonight they will face off for the 39th time in total, with Rafa leading their career series 22-16 at the moment. 

Away from clay the score reads 13-9 to Djokovic and on indoor hard it’s 2-1 to the Serb, but with a match played at this time of the year it’s all about fitness, health and desire, as well as form. That makes this one a tough call.

Any competitive match between these two will always be keenly fought and this one will probably be seen by the players as an early marker for the 2014 season.

Rafa will be desperate to win the World Tour Finals for the first time, while Djokovic will be just as keen to defend his title and ranking points from last year’s triumph here.

Despite their extensive history, the pair haven’t met on indoor hard since Nadal won here at the o2 at the round robin stage back in 2010. Novak won the year before in the same tournament at the same stage, so that tells us little.

This match has the feel of a close one about it in terms of sets, but not necessarily games, as many of the sets they’ve contested have tended to be won comfortably by one or the other.

The match-up has produced very few tie breaks, which is perhaps surprising, with just six being played in their last 53 sets against each other, so the 1.88 about for 0.5 tie breaks is statistically likely to prove successful.

First sets between this pair are rarely close either, with their 2009 meeting here at the o2 being the last time an opening set between the two went to a tie break and only three times in the last 15 matches has it gone to 7-5.

Indeed, the under 9.5 games in set one would have proved a winner in this match-up five times in their last 10 meetings, so that may be value at 2.40 today.

For a bigger priced wager the 2-1 to Djokovic is priced at 3.55 and that looks worthy of consideration too, with these matches tending to be close on hard courts with Novak just having the edge.

The fitness factor will be big today and Rafa has played fewer sets (17) in the last two weeks than Novak, who has chalked up 23 and that could swing it in his favour tonight, but it looks like it will go the distance to me.

I don’t see any real value in the 1.52 on Djokovic and I prefer backing the match to go to over 2.5 sets at 2.10 and for no tie breaks at 1.88.


Best Bets

Back over 2.5 sets at 2.10

Back under 0.5 tie breaks at 1.88

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