The final day of round-robin play at the Nitto ATP Finals will see a winner-takes-all match in the singles Red Group, while three doubles teams vie for one remaining semi-final spot in the Green Group on Friday in Turin.

Stefanos Tsitsipas and Andrey Rublev will meet for the 11th time to determine which man advances to the singles semi-finals alongside Novak Djokovic, who will seek to stay perfect on the week when he takes on Daniil Medvedev.

Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic, who have sealed their progress to the knockout rounds, face Thanasi Kokkinakis and Nick Kyrgios in evening doubles action after top seeds Wesley Koolhof and Neal Skupski take on Ivan Dodig and Austin Krajicek to begin the day’s play.

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[2] Stefanos Tsitsipas (GRE) vs. [6] Andrey Rublev

Tsitsipas was on the verge of falling to 0-2 late in a high-quality match against Medvedev, after failing to convert on three match points in the second-set tie-break. But the Greek managed to battle back from 3-5 in the third, breaking as his opponent served for the match and ultimately claiming a hard-fought victory, 6-3, 6-7(11), 7-6(1), after two hours and 21 minutes.

As he did in his Cincinnati win against Medvedev, Tsitsipas succeeded in breaking down the former World No. 1’s defences by attacking the net. On Wednesday, he won 36 of 45 net points (80 per cent), often coming in behind his serve.

“I’m working day by day to introduce [serve and volleying] back into my game,” Tsitsipas said in a post-match press conference. “To have pretty much my opponent guessing a bit more, not get comfortable every single time.

“It has kind of been lost over the years in our sport. Not many players do that any more. I think it’s important to remain a big part of the game and to have more players play it on TV, in front of stadiums, big crowds. It’s a beautiful kind of transition from the serve to the net. It introduces so many things. It’s tennis modernised, but at the same time keeping its aggressive elements of the game.”

The serve-and-volley tactic may be Tsitsipas’ best method of getting on the attack against Rublev in this must-win match, with the winner through to the semis. While the Greek’s first two Turin opponents — Djokovic and Medvedev — were content to stay solid from the baseline, the explosive Rublev will be more eager to land the first punch in the rallies.

Tsitsipas leads the pair’s ATP Head2Head series 6-4, including a 2-0 mark this season with three-set wins in Madrid and Astana. Rublev’s most recent win came at last year in Turin.

“We’ve been playing good tennis,” Tsitsipas said of their rivalry, which began at the 2018 Intesa Sanpaolo Next Gen ATP Finals, a tournament won by Tsitsipas one year before he lifted the 2019 Nitto ATP Finals trophy in his tournament debut. “We’ve had matches against each other in the past, long matches, shorter matches, all kinds of matches, pretty much all surfaces.”

The competitors match up well across the board, with no major advantages to be found in the INSIGHTS Shot Quality statistics, which factor in a variety of metrics to score stokes on a 10-point scale.

Rublev will hope to get back in the win column against Tsitsipas — and advance to the Turin semis for his first time in three appearances — by harnessing his improved mental game and finding his best level on the court. The 25-year-old identified his emotional control as a key in his opening Turin win against Medvedev, and he spoke further on the topic in his latest presser.

“A little bit of everything,” he said, explaining how he works on the mental aspect of his game. “Obviously off the court. Also typical situations in life when you are stressed or when you have some problems. Even try to face them calm in real life, because it happens every day. Someone crosses you with a car and you get frustration, you know? Try to face it, and it doesn’t matter, face it calm. Even those things can help you.

“Also obviously working more specifically with [my team]. Also on the court, to start to do it in practice. You can do it every day by yourself, plus doing videos and meditations, stuff like that. So there is plenty of things.”

Who will claim the SF spot?

Tsitsipas in two sets

Tsitsipas in three sets

Rublev in two sets

Rublev in three sets

[4] Daniil Medvedev vs. [7] Novak Djokovic (SER)

Although Medvedev cannot reach the semis, this promises to be a high-octane match with the fourth seed keen to finish his season on a high note and snap a seven-match losing streak against Top 10 opponents. He faces a tall task against the in-form Djokovic.

The Serbian has yet to drop a set or drop serve in the loaded Red Group, facing just one break point across his wins against Tsitsipas and Rublev. He called his 6-4, 6-1 victory against Rublev “one of the best matches I played this year”, pointing out the many free points he won on serve as a key.

Feeling fresher than ever at this stage of the season, owing to his limited schedule in 2022, Djokovic has made the perfect start in his bid to match Roger Federer’s record six titles at the Nitto ATP Finals. 

“The upside of not playing many tournaments is that you’re going to be fresher than when you’re playing a lot more, which is logical,” the Serbian said. “At the same time, it was a very unusual year for me in terms of my season. I missed some big tournaments, two out of four Slams.

“To be able to play as well I am playing in the past few months is something I’m very thankful for and I worked hard for because I had more time to train, to practise. I did spend quite a bit of time with my coach and with my team on the court, off the court, trying to perfect my game.”

The most recent meeting between Djokovic and Medvedev was shaping up to be one of the matches of the 2022 season, but Medvedev was forced to retire after the pair split sets in the Astana semi-finals. While their latest meeting will not have the drama of an elimination match, there is still a lot on the line — including 200 Pepperstone ATP Rankings points and $383,300 in prize money.

In this matchup of two of the game’s ultimate lockdown baseliners, Medvedev will be seeking his first win against Djokovic since the 2021 US Open final as he bids to improve upon his 4-7 record in their ATP Head2Head rivalry. He is also hoping to snap that seven-match losing streak against Top 10 opposition, which dates back to his defeat to Rafael Nadal in the Australian Open final.

“It means I was not good enough, and I have to be better,” Medvedev said of the streak. “Mentally, I don’t care if I play a Top 10 [opponent] or not. But tennis-wise it’s tougher to play a Top 10 player. That means I have to play better tennis against these guys. That’s what I’m going to try to do next time because there is no other choice.”

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Doubles Action

The 2-0 record of Mektic/Pavic guarantees them a place in the semi-finals, but their position atop the Green Group will be on the line Friday against Kokkinakis and Kyrgios. Both teams enter the contest on the back of a win, with the Aussies edging Dodig/Krajicek in a Match Tie-break on Day 4 to earn their first win in their Nitto ATP Finals debut.

Dodig/Krajicek are still in the hunt for the knockout rounds despite their 0-2 record, though they will need a win from Mektic/Pavic in addition to one of their own to stand a chance of progressing. The Croatian-American pair takes on Koolhof/Skupski, who were honoured as ATP Doubles No. 1 presented by Pepperstone on Thursday at the Pala Alpitour.

“It’s incredible,” Skupski said of the achievement. “We only came together in January. One of our goals was just to make the Nitto ATP Finals. We’ve come in and won seven titles this year and come in as the No. 1 seeds. So this is a dream come true, to end the year No. 1.”

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