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Nitto ATP Finals 2020: Rafael Nadal vs Stefanos Tsitsipas preview, head-to-head & prediction

Rafael Nadal (L) and Stefanos Tsitsipas at the Nitto ATP Finals 2019
Rafael Nadal (L) and Stefanos Tsitsipas at the Nitto ATP Finals 2019
Namit Kumar
ANALYST
Modified 18 Nov 2020, 13:07 IST
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Match details

Fixture: (2) Rafael Nadal vs (5) Stefanos Tsitsipas

Date: 19 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: Not before 8 pm GMT, 1.30 am IST

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Live telecast: USA - ESPN / Tennis Channel | India - Sony / Sony Liv


Rafael Nadal vs Stefanos Tsitsipas preview

Second seed Rafael Nadal has a must-win face-off with Stefanos Tsitsipas in his final round-robin match at the ATP Finals on Thursday.

Following his record-equaling triumph at Roland Garros in October, the Spaniard was looking to turn around his poor record on indoor hardcourts. He lost in the semifinals of the Paris Masters, but got his ATP Finals campaign off to a great start with a straight-sets win over Andrey Rublev.

The Spaniard was then defeated by Dominic Thiem in what was arguably the match of the year, replete with precise shot-making and incredible baseline exchanges. Nadal still does stand a chance of reaching the semifinals of the tournament; he can get the job done with a win over Tsitsipas.

Stefanos Tsitsipas at the Nitto ATP Finals 2020
Stefanos Tsitsipas at the Nitto ATP Finals 2020

The Greek, on the other hand, has been in poor form on indoor hardcourts this year. Following second-round defeats in Vienna and the Paris Masters, he lost his first match at the ATP Finals to Dominic Thiem 6-7(5), 6-4, 3-6.

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The next two matches thus became must-wins for the 22-year-old. He had to save a match point in the deciding set tie-break against Andrey Rublev, before winning 6-1, 4-6, 7-6(6).

That set up the final round-robin clash with Nadal, which now becomes a de facto quarterfinal.

Rafael Nadal vs Stefanos Tsitsipas head-to-head

The meeting between the two players will be their seventh on the tour, and Rafael Nadal currently leads the head-to-head 5-1 over Stefanos Tsitsipas. Their last meeting actually came at the 2019 ATP Finals event, which Nadal won in three sets.

The Greek's only win against Nadal has come on clay - in the semifinals of the Madrid Masters last year.


Rafael Nadal vs Stefanos Tsitsipas prediction

Rafael Nadal at the Nitto ATP Finals 2020
Rafael Nadal at the Nitto ATP Finals 2020

The match between Rafael Nadal and Stefanos Tsitsipas is a winner-takes-all contest, and the two players have reached this stage in contrasting styles.

Nadal may have lost in straight sets against Thiem in the previous encounter, but his performance was one of his finest of the year. The Spaniard has improved his indoor hardcourt play in recent times through his increasingly aggressive approach.

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The World No. 2 has consistently found more depth on his groundstrokes, and incorporated a lot of variations into his game. His serve has also become a threat, especially in the ad court.

Tsitsipas, meanwhile, has struggled to cope with the power of his opponents so far. He has also been inconsistent with his own offensive shots, which have the potential to be dangerous on quick surfaces.

If Nadal maintains the level he produced against Thiem and Rublev, he should be comfortable against a faltering Tsitsipas. The Greek would have to find more consistency with his serve and be more aggressive from the get-go to stand a chance against the Spaniard.

Prediction: Rafael Nadal to win in straight sets.

Published 18 Nov 2020, 12:40 IST
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