Novak Djokovic vs. Casper Ruud Odds, Preview & Pick: World Number One in For Tough Battle
Credit: Clive Brunskill, Getty. Novak Djokovic practices for the ATP Finals.
Novak Djokovic vs. Casper Ruud
|Time||Monday, 8 a.m. ET|
|Odds via Caesars Sportsbook.|
World number one Novak Djokovic will kick off his ATP Finals campaign against the man that has won five titles on the season, Casper Ruud.
On the back of an excellent Paris Masters event that saw Djokovic secure his year-end number one ranking, he’ll have the chance to match Roger Federer with the most titles at the ATP’s pinnacle non-slam event.
Ruud came into the season as a clay-court specialist, but the Norwegian number one has established himself as an all-court player with the ability to compete with the best players on tour. The development is part of the reason that he qualified for this event.
How will he fare in his first ATP finals against the best player to ever grace a hard court? Read on for betting analysis and a look at both players’ routes to victory.
How Djokovic Wins
It’s not hard to make an argument for Djokovic to beat any player on tour. Just playing a solid neutral game will typically be enough for him to get by most of his competition.
Against Ruud, he’ll be dealing with a player that excels off the forehand wing, but Djokovic will be able to go toe-to-toe in rallies off the forehand wing and excel off of the backhand side. However, Ruud showed in his match against Alexander Zverev in Paris that he’s capable of dealing with an elite backhand.
Serving well and getting ahead in points will be key for Djokovic, but he is at a slight vulnerability if he has to rely on winning points behind his second serve. He won over 50% of the points behind his second serves in all matches except the one against Medvedev, in which he won 19%. Against a player that returns with as much heaviness as Ruud, that could be a problem.
He won’t be troubled too much by Ruud’s serve, but returning to the backhand of Ruud and dictating points in that manner will make the job much easier for Djokovic.
How Ruud Wins
On the other side, it’s not easy devising a game plan around beating Djokovic.
For Ruud, a major key will be keeping points on his forehand wing, where he can take the initiative and even be more comfortable than Djokovic at times. He won’t be able to get on the offensive many times from the backhand wing, so the less he has to hit the better.
In matches in Paris against Marcos Giron and Alexander Zverev, Ruud put together excellent serving performances, and that’ll be key if he wants to have any chance against Djokovic. He combined for eight aces and just a lone double fault in the two matches, and he won over 65% of the points behind his first and second serves.
Additionally, he’ll have to perform at a high level on break points. Djokovic is an incredibly efficient player, converting an incredibly 47% of his break points on hard courts in the last 52 weeks and winning 73% of his tie breakers. Ruud is going to have to buck that trend and do better than his 65% break points saved in the same circumstances.
Betting Analysis and Pick
Picking against Djokovic in any form is always a perilous choice, but I think Ruud has the capability of surprising some in this contest.
He’s been one of the most consistent players on tour all year and he won’t be intimidated by Djokovic’s ball-striking. If he can keep rallies on the forehand and attack when possible, he’s capable of breaking Djokovic and giving himself chances to engage with the 20-time slam champion.
Look for Ruud to emphasize his depth and heaviness in rallies to his advantage, and though I don’t anticipate him beating Djokovic, he can extend the match.
Pick: Over 20.5 Games -110