‘Nitto ATP finals’ 2021, Torino

1. Novak Djokovic (34, Serbia) – 14th appearance (9370 points)
– it’s a new chapter in career of the arguably greatest player ever; after so many years of experiencing tough battles against the best players born in the 80s, he recently tries to maintain the status of No. 1 facing the best players born in the 90s… apart from his first appearance in 2007 (exhausted at the end of a very demanding season), he’s been always a favourite to win the “Masters” title; I’ll be surprised if he doesn’t play in the semifinals this year
Strengths: actually everything to some extent, except the overhead
4. Stefanos Tsitsipas (23, Greece) – 3rd appearance (5695 points)
– along with Medvedev & Zverev, Tsitsipas has established himself as one of the three best players born in the second half of the 90s; he needs to win a major to consider him as a potential best player of this decade; next year should be crucial in terms of awareness of his place in tennis history once he’s retired… I don’t expect him in the Turin final, perhaps the semifinal, really depends on his first match vs Rublev
Strengths: forehand, second serve, footwork
Weaknesses: inability to close out sets/matches on a regular basis
5. Andrey Rublev (24, Russia) – 2nd appearance (4210 points)
– if Rublev is going to win at least one big title in his career, I think there’s no better opportunity than doing it at ‘Masters’… is he able to raise the trophy in 2021? I guess he’s only if he somehow avoids facing Djokovic in the final, and rather impossible in Rublev’s case to go through the event being unbeaten… even though the second part of the season was average for him, I think he has a good shot to go through to the semis, even to the final if he faces Berrettini/Hurkacz on Saturday next week
Strengths: ground-strokes
Weaknesses: second serve; nervousness, impatience & lack of plan B – it’s tough to expect him winning matches when he is trailing from a set down
8. Casper Ruud (23, Norway) – debut (3275 points)
– the first quarter of his career and he already enjoys a status of the best Norwegian player in history; he hasn’t played a Masters 1K final and a major quarterfinal yet, no-one before him managed to advance to the season-ending event without respectable results at the biggest stages… Ruud was obtaining valuable points this year mainly on clay-courts with the highlight in July when he claimed three ATP250 titles within three weeks (Bastad, Gstaad, Kitzbuhel)… I suppose he may end up with a similar ratio to Diego Schwartzman a year before, so just 1 set won and 6 lost
Strengths: footwork, persistence
Weaknesses: first serve, one-dimensional in conducting play
2. Daniil Medvedev (25, Russia) – 3rd appearance (7070 points)
– the second best player in the world given the past two years (since August ’19 to be precise), already fulfilled after capturing the US Open ’21 title; certainly he wants more, at least to overthrow Djokovic next year at the top – it won’t be easy because there are many (10-15?) good young players born between 1997 and 2003 who may beat him everywhere (less likely on hardcourts outdoors), and Medvedev struggles on clay-courts… big favourite to play in the Turin semifinals
Strengths: tactical self-conscience, ability to improvise when the things don’t go his way; first serve, defence
Weaknesses: nervousness, physical overheating – inability to win ‘best of five’ matches when the opponent has won two sets (it doesn’t matter this week)
3. Alexander Zverev (24, Germany) – 5th appearance (5955 points)
– similar case to Tsitsipas: the next season should be a career defining, he finally needs to win a major if he dreams about being the icon of the 20s… from technical standpoint he seems to have all the tools to make a huge statement in 2022, especially given two factors: his big experience despite the young age and twilight era of the Big 3
Strengths: first serve, ground-strokes
Weaknesses: inconsistency over the course of matches; he wastes too much energy before the final stages of events
6. Matteo Berrettini (25, Italy) – 2nd appearance (4090 points)
– I have to admit he surprised me this year, two years ago he made his Masters debut and I thought it’d be his first and last time among the tennis elite; he recently skipped Paris in order to be perfectly prepared for the event in front of the home crowd; tough to say how important it may be, but if he delivers his best tennis, with the help of the crowd he may beat everyone here… except Djokovic
Strengths: first serve, forehand, consistency in realising his basic game-plan
Weaknesses: backhand
7. Hubert Hurkacz (24, Poland) – debut (3315 points)
– Hurkacz becomes the second Pole to participate at Masters (following Wojtek Fibak who was also 24 in 1976 when reached the Houston final); the tall, rather clumsy Wroclaw native seemed like a Top 20 potential to me two years ago, yet he has somehow advanced to the Top 10 mainly thanks to his triumph in Miami & semifinal at Wimbledon; I assume it’s his first and last appearance in this prestigious event, he has a decent chance to reach the semifinal, considerably bigger than Ruud in my opinion
Strengths: backhand, versatility, consistency of keeping good level for ~two hours when he’s ahead
Weaknesses: passivity in return games, inability to turn matches around being on verge of defeat
9. Jannik Sinner (20, Italy) – debut, as an alternate (3015 points)
– so far the best player born in the 00s, is he good enough to be the first no. 1 born in the 21st Century? too early to predict, he needs to improve a few things in his technical repertoire… this season has confirmed that he usually deals very well with situations under pressure; if he gets more points directly behind the serve, he should be a Top 5 player (at least) soon
Strengths: ground-strokes, concentration at the end of tight sets
Weaknesses: net-play, insecurity when the crowd is against him (it happened this year vs Monfils in New York & Tiafoe in Vienna)
11. Cameron Norrie (26, Great Britain) – debut, 2nd alternate (2945 points)
– No. 11 Norrie came to Turin because No. 10 Nadal wasn’t interested in playing this event already when he was No. 6 in the Race (injury)… I was watching Norrie from time to time, and didn’t expect him even to enter the Top 20, yet he has become a very consistent player, and everything worked in his favour at Indian Wells where he shockingly raised the trophy which is the key to his appearance in the tennis elite, increasing his chances to be a Top 10 guy next year for a while
Strengths: patience in baseline rallies, arrhythmia (he mixes up heavy forehand top-spins with flat backhands)
Weaknesses: monotony, inability to regularly play well tight sets (similarly to Ruud)
My picks for the semifinal spots: Djokovic/Rublev and Medvedev/Berrettini
This entry was posted in Tournaments. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply