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Andrey Rublev vs. Casper Ruud Odds, Preview, Best Bet: Back Norwegian to Pull Off Upset (Nov. 19)

Andrey Rublev vs. Casper Ruud Odds, Preview, Best Bet: Back Norwegian to Pull Off Upset (Nov. 19) article feature image

Giampiero Sposito/Getty Images. Pictured: Casper Ruud celebrates after beating Cameron Norrie at the ATP Finals.

Andrey Rublev vs. Casper Ruud

Rublev Odds-200
Ruud Odds+160
TimeFriday, 8 a.m. ET 
Head-to-Head Record: Rublev, 4-0
Odds via Caesars Sportsbook. For tips on watching tennis, click here

In a winner-take-all, group-stage matchup, Andrey Rublev will battle Casper Ruud on Friday for a spot in the semifinals of the ATP Finals.

Each player has a lone win and loss against Novak Djokovic, and with the withdrawal of Stefanos Tsitsipas due to injury and subsequent Ruud win over Cameron Norrie, one is assured a spot in the next stage of the event.

For Ruud and Rublev, form has wavered in each of their first two matches, but this is a prime opportunity for both to take a major step forward.

Here are the keys to the match and my selection for the early morning affair.

Is This Version of Rublev Good Enough to Progress?

Despite the vastly different score lines, the two performances that Rublev has shown weren’t too far off in terms of quality. The stats and context reflect that.

Against a hobbled Tsitsipas, Rublev made 68% of his first serves, whereas against the best player in the world, he connected 69% of them. The Russian had a 3-to-1 ace-to-double fault ratio against Tsitsipas, and against Djokovic it was a 6:1 ratio.

The serve is the only shot the player can completely control himself, so it’s hard to make the case that Rublev was aggressively tight or his level dropped too much from match to match.

Painting the Torino lines 🖌

— Tennis TV (@TennisTV) November 17, 2021

For Rublev, the key difference wasn’t his level, but rather his opponent. This version of Tsitsipas wasn’t able to absorb any of the pace that Rublev was feeding him, and it allowed him to dominate rallies. Djokovic is arguably the best player in the world at absorbing pace, and Rublev had no ability to break down the Serbian.

That doesn’t mean that Rublev wasn’t consistent, and I believe we know to a large extent what he’ll show. The question is, is that good enough? It’s hard to say. Rublev had lost four of five matches coming into this event, and his first two outings make it difficult to know if he’s really improved that level.

It might come down to Ruud’s racquet, rather than the one with the world’s No. 5 player.

Is Ruud Ready to Make Big Hard-Court Leap?

All year, Ruud has been one of the most dominant clay-court players on tour. For the past couple months, he’s been able to elevate his hard-court game to become a high-level player on the surface as well.

Ruud has picked up quality wins on the surface (two against Cameron Norrie, plus one versus Diego Schwartzman, Grigor Dimitrov, Andy Murray, etc…), and he’s battled well with elite competition like Djokovic and Zverev. That said, we’ll find out if he can put it all together to break through with a massive win.

A Casper Comeback 🔥@CasperRuud98 recovers from a set down to defeat debutant Norrie 1-6 6-3

— Tennis TV (@TennisTV) November 17, 2021

Despite his consistent ability to remain calm under pressure throughout the year and putting himself in the hunt for Turin qualification, he showed signs of nerves against Norrie in Wednesday’s clash.

Tightness began to creep in for the Norwegian No. 1, and it killed him in the first set. To an extent, he was bailed out in the final two sets without having to raise his level beyond a very average one for his standards. Needless to say, he’ll have to play far better to earn a victory.

Absorbing pace will be the biggest key for Ruud, as Rublev will look to rush him on his weaker backhand side. If Ruud is able to defend off that wing well and get offensive opportunities on his forehand, the balance will shift toward him.

The other factor working against Ruud is his 0-4 head-to-head record against Rublev, but I get the sense that this is a much different iteration of Ruud than Rublev has ever seen.

Rublev vs. Ruud Betting Pick

I’m a big believer in the development that Ruud has found in his hard-court game, and I think it’s going to pay dividends for him in this contest.

Rublev hasn’t given me a big reason to believe the Rublev that struggled throughout the indoor hard-court swing isn’t the one in Turin. A win against Tsitsipas was impressive, but learning that the Greek’s arm issue was still bothering him in that match means it loses a touch of credibility.

He wasn’t able to break down Djokovic to any extent, and though Ruud doesn’t have the weapons or ability that the world No. 1 possesses, I believe he’ll provide a far stiffer test than Tsitsipas.

I love the +160 odds price that you can get on Ruud, and it’ll be a fascinating match to watch unfold.

Pick: Ruud (+160)

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