It’s going to be a ‘do or die’ match for both players when World No.2 Rafael Nadal takes on Stefanos Tsitsipas in their final group-stage match at the ATP World Tour Finals. The winner of the showdown is guaranteed to progress to the semifinals of the season-ending championships.
The Roland Garros champion made a superb start to his campaign by defeating Andrey Rublev in straight sets. However, Dominic Thiem overpowered Nadal in a close contest the following match. Despite having set points in the opening set and being up a break in the second set, Nadal failed to convert those chances.
On the other side, Tsitsipas lost his opening match to Thiem in a tough three-set encounter. But the defending champion won an epic showdown against Rublev, despite being a match point down in the third-set tiebreaker.
The duo has faced off six times against each other, with Nadal leading 5-1 in the lopsided rivalry. Interestingly, the last time they played was at the round-robin stage at the 2019 ATP Nitto Finals, when Nadal won the match 7-5 in the third set. The lone victory of Tsitsipas over Nadal came in the semifinals of the Madrid Masters last year.
Despite losing to Thiem in his last match, Nadal produced a high level of tennis. The Spaniard has been playing aggressively from the baseline and displayed exquisite net play against Thiem. He is serving phenomenally well and has been consistently winning over 70% of the points of his first service.
However, Tsitsipas has struggled to defend and has fared poorly to convert break point opportunities. The Greek hasn’t been consistent with his groundstrokes and will need to play offensive to have chances against Nadal. Although, Tsitsipas’ big serve could be an enormous threat to Nadal and might make it harder for the World No.2 to execute his returns.
Nonetheless, if Nadal exhibits high intensity akin to his previous match, he is likely to prevail to the last four of the tournament.
Prediction: Rafael Nadal to win in three sets.