Fixture: (1) Novak Djokovic vs (8) Casper Ruud
Date: 15 November 2021
Tournament: Nitto ATP Finals 2021
Round: Round robin (Green Group)
Venue: Turin, Italy
Category: Year-ending championships
Surface: Indoor Hardcourt
Prize money: $7,250,000
Match timing: Not before 2 pm local time, 1 pm GMT, 6.30 pm IST
Live telecast: USA - Tennis Channel | UK - Amazon Prime Video
Novak Djokovic vs Casper Ruud preview
World No. 1 Novak Djokovic will begin his quest for a record-equaling sixth ATP Finals title on Monday against eighth seed Casper Ruud in the first round-robin match of the Green Group.
Ruud, 22, is making his debut in the season-ending event, while Djokovic is competing for the 14th time.
The Serb enters the tournament in top form, having lifted the Paris Masters title after accounting for Daniil Medvedev in the final. Djokovic has not won this event since 2015 and would be keen to get his hands on the trophy this year, which would move him level with Roger Federer's all-time tally of six ATP Finals crowns.
Despite having failed to win the title in his four previous appearances, Djokovic has performed quite well. He has two runner-up finishes (2016 and 2018) and a semifinal showing (2020) to his name in the last four years. The Serb was knocked out in the round-robin stage in 2019, his first exit at that stage since 2011.
The World No. 1 will fancy his chances of progressing to the semifinals this year as he has been drawn in arguably the easier group. The Serb will have to contend with former champion Stefanos Tsitsipas, but Casper Ruud and Andrey Rublev should not be major obstacles.
Ruud also enters this tournament in decent form, having made the quarterfinals in Vienna and Paris-Bercy. However, the Norwegian's campaign at both events ended at the hands of a top-10 seed, which does not bode well for his prospects in Turin.
Novak Djokovic vs Casper Ruud head-to-head
Novak Djokovic leads Casper Ruud 1-0 in the head-to-head. The two faced each other on clay in Rome last year, with Djokovic winning 7-5, 6-3.
Novak Djokovic vs Casper Ruud prediction
Novak Djokovic enters this match as the firm favorite. The Serb played some of his best tennis in the Paris Masters final against Daniil Medvedev and should be able to carry that momentum into Turin.
Having said that, the Serb still has room for improvement and could look to use the round-robin matches to fine-tune his game ahead of the knockout stages.
While Ruud's groundstrokes pack a punch on clay, they do not have the same impact indoors, meaning he will have to work much harder in the rallies against a player who can defend like Djokovic.
The World No. 1's serve has also developed into a massive weapon and if he can hit his spots consistently, Ruud is unlikely to have an answer.
Prediction: Novak Djokovic to win in straight sets.