Fixture: (1) Novak Djokovic vs (8) Diego Schwartzman
Date: 16 November 2020
Tournament: Nitto ATP Finals 2020
Round: Round-robin stage
Venue: London, United Kingdom
Category: ATP Finals
Surface: Indoor hardcourt
Prize money: $5,700,000
Match timing: 2 pm GMT, 7:30 PM IST
Live telecast: USA - ESPN / Tennis Channel | India - Sony / Sony Liv
Novak Djokovic vs Diego Schwartzman preview
The 50th edition of the ATP Finals is being spearheaded by World No. 1 Novak Djokovic, who will begin his campaign on Monday against debutant Diego Schwartzman.
Novak Djokovic comes into the tournament as the leader of the pack, having won the Australian Open and two Masters titles this year. In fact, Djokovic has lost a grand total of three matches in the truncated calendar of 2020, and he has already sealed the year-end No. 1 ranking.
Admittedly, the Serb hasn't had much match practice on indoor hardcourts this year as some of the other contenders. He managed to play only three matches in Vienna, which included a surprising defeat to Lorenzo Sonego where he won just three games.
But despite that, Djokovic starts as the outright favorite to win the title by virtue of his history at the tournament coupled with his astonishing record in indoor conditions.
Diego Schwartzman meanwhile has qualified for the ATP Finals for the first time in his career. Schwartzman was having a mediocre year until the US Open, but he came to life after that.
The diminutive powerhouse reached the final in Rome and the last-four at Roland Garros to make his top-10 debut, and eventually became the last player to qualify for the season-ending event.
That said, Schwartzman has a poor record on indoor hardcourts. Not many are expecting him to progress from Group Tokyo 1970, given that he has Djokovic, Daniil Medvedev and Alexander Zverev for company.
The World No. 9 did reach the final at the indoor tournament in Cologne though, and will be eager to prove his mettle at the year-end championships as well.
Novak Djokovic vs Diego Schwartzman head-to-head
The head-to-head between Novak Djokovic and Diego Schwartzman currently stands at 5-0 in favor of Djokovic.
Schwartzman has failed to take a set off the Serb in either of their two hardcourt meetings. The pair met most recently in this year's Rome final, where the Argentine led by a double break in the opening set before Djokovic flipped the tide and won 7-5, 6-3.
Novak Djokovic vs Diego Schwartzman prediction
Novak Djokovic is one of the best players ever on indoor hardcourts. The 17-time Grand Slam champion has thoroughly dominated this part of the season for the better part of the last decade.
Low-bouncing courts help Djokovic redirect pace better than outdoor surfaces. The Serb's backhand is even more lethal than usual in indoor conditions, as the ball often sits up right in his strike zone.
Djokovic is also a master at breaking serve on indoor hardcourts, a surface where even the best of returners struggle against big servers.
In contrast, Diego Schwartzman has never had much success on the surface. The Argentine's counterpunching playing style isn't too effective enough indoors, and his shots don't have the same venom and penetration as they do on clay.
Schwartzman's game is heavily reliant on his return, but his edge in that department gets compromised on a surface that favors giant servers. And since the Argentine doesn't have a great serve himself, he often struggles to stay afloat in his service games.
Prediction: Novak Djokovic to win in straight sets.Published 15 Nov 2020, 12:21 IST