Novak Djokovic vs. Cameron Norrie Odds, Pick, Preview: Chance for Lowered Intensity From World No. 1
Credit: Julian Finney, Getty. Novak Djokovic hits a forehand against Andrey Rublev at the ATP Finals.
Novak Djokovic vs. Cameron Norrie
|Time||Friday, 3 p.m. ET|
|Head-to-Head Record: 0-0|
|Odds via FanDuel. For tips on watching tennis, click here.
Any time Novak Djokovic, Rafa Nadal or Roger Federer takes the court is a meaningful one. Djokovic is the one with the most matches left in the tank, but appreciating the greatness of the trio means appreciating times they play dead rubbers, as this one is.
There is nothing in terms of seeding or qualification importance for the tournament’s sake on the line in this matchup, but there are very mild monetary and ranking point implications.
Nonetheless, there is a serious chance that we see a subdued Djokovic on Friday, and it could play into the hands of the British number one.
Here is how I’m evaluating the final group stage matchup of the ATP Finals, and why I believe the value lies with the heavy underdog.
Will Djokovic Be Fully Invested in the Dead Rubber?
Daniil Medvedev showed us on Thursday and in 2020 that the ATP’s incentives for trying in dead rubbers can have an impact in terms of effort. The Russian repeated his 2020 accomplishment of sweeping the group stage of the year-end finals, and he’ll have a chance to repeat as an undefeated champion.
Speculating about a player’s effort level is always a hard game to play, but I don’t think Djokovic will be nearly as willing to give it his all in the same situation. That’s no dig at Djokovic, who is one of the hardest workers in the sport, but money and extra ranking points don’t really do much for a man who has achieved just about everything the sport has to offer.
— US Open Tennis (@usopen) November 15, 2021
He’s also accomplished any alternate goal he had when he arrived in Turin. Djokovic has already secured the year-end number one ranking, qualified as the first seed into the semifinals, and he’ll have to turn around on no days of rest to face Alexander Zverev in the semis after the German had a day to relax.
In a similar situation last year in Vienna, Djokovic reduced his effort level after achieving his goal of securing the year-end number one ranking. I think we could be in store for a similar performance on Friday.
Norrie Seeking to Build Upon Alternate Status
It took two withdrawals for Norrie to take the court in Turin, but he almost seized upon his chance in epic fashion against Casper Ruud.
Norrie replaced Stefanos Tsitsipas prior to the Greek’s second scheduled match at the event, and he raced out to a 6-1 set against Ruud. The Brit suffered a bit of a collapse in the final two sets, donating breaks to Ruud that allowed him to secure the victory, but overall it was a good showing.
Any nerves that Norrie may have had should be all but squashed on Friday as he has no chance of advancing through to the semifinals. If anything, going up against the greatest hard court player of all time could provide anxiety, but it should be far reduced from what we saw on Wednesday.
Norrie’s season-ending run that included a title in Indian Wells and a runner-up finish in San Diego was no accident, as he raised his game to a significant extent as the season progressed.
Expect him to showcase a bit of that ability on Friday when he gets a chance to face off with a legend in Djokovic.
I’m not going to argue that Norrie should be anything close to a favorite or even a small underdog in this matchup. That would be an obscene suggestion.
However, the contextual factors going into this match aren’t being factored into the odds as they were for Medvedev’s battle with Sinner. Djokovic is being given major credit that he’s going to fully invest himself in this battle, and I believe there’s a significant chance that isn’t the case.
This will be Norrie’s last match of the tour season, and I envision that he’ll be eager to go out with a solid performance. From a tactical level, this is a nightmare matchup for Norrie, but tennis is such a mental sport that the physical side of the matchup may not over-impose itself in the match.
Look for Norrie to compete, and maybe even take advantage of a cautious Djokovic.
Pick: 0.75u Norrie +5.5 Games (-130) | 0.25u Norrie +690