Scouting Report: Nadal, Tsitsipas & Djokovic Chase History In Turin
The Nitto ATP Finals returns to Turin for the second year, with the game's elite set to once again light up the Pala Alpitour with eight days of world-class tennis.
Two singles players — Rafael Nadal and Stefanos Tsitsipas — enter with a chance to finish the season as No. 1 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings, while Novak Djokovic seeks to match Roger Federer's record of six Nitto ATP Finals crowns.
ATPTour.com looks at 10 things to watch this week.
1) Nadal's Double Chance In Turin Debut: A 17-time qualifier for the Nitto ATP Finals, Nadal will make his first appearance in Turin as he seeks to win the lone big title that has eluded him in his legendary career. A two-time finalist at the event (2010, 2013), the top-seeded Spaniard knows that a title will not just complete his trophy cabinet — it will also earn him his sixth year-end No. 1 honour.
While Nadal can guarantee his place atop the Pepperstone ATP Rankings with the title, he could also claim the No. 1 spot with a 4-1 finish as runner-up, provided Tsitsipas does not lift the trophy as an undefeated champion in the latter scenario.
Nadal's four tour-level titles this season leave him level with Djokovic, Felix Auger-Aliassime, Andrey Rublev for second-most on the season, behind the injured Carlos Alcaraz's five. The 36-year-old opens group play against Taylor Fritz on Sunday, with Casper Ruud and Auger-Aliassime also in the Green Group.
2) Djokovic Chases History: A five-time Nitto ATP Finals champion, Djokovic has not reached the final at the event since 2018 and has not lifted the trophy since his four-year reign as champion from 2012-15 in London. Having lifted his first year-end title in 2008 in Shanghai, he is bidding to complete a three-city collection of trophies in Turin.
Both Djokovic, 35, and Nadal, 36, are bidding to become the oldest Nitto ATP Finals champion and the second man to win the title in his 30s. Federer won his sixth title in 2011 at age 30, with Djokovic in hot pursuit of that record trophy haul.
The Serbian meets second seed Tsitsipas on Monday to open his campaign, with Daniil Medvedev and Rublev completing the Red Group.
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3) Tsitsipas Seeks Perfection: At the US Open, Tsitsipas was seven wins away from becoming the first Greek World No. 1 in Pepperstone ATP Rankings. But the Greek suffered a shock first-round exit, admitting that nerves about his No. 1 opportunity may have played a part in his defeat. He once again has his fate in his own hands in Turin, now standing five wins away from the top spot. But each of those matches will come against the game's best, beginning with Djokovic.
The Greek has risen to the occasion before at the Nitto ATP Finals, winning the title in his 2019 debut by beating Federer and Dominic Thiem in the knockout rounds, edging the Austrian in a third-set tie-break to win a dramatic final.
With a 60-22 record on the season, Tsitsipas leads the ATP Tour in wins. Only Auger-Aliassime has a chance to catch him in Turin, the Canadian entering his Nitto ATP Finals debut with a 56-25 mark on the year.
4) Ruud's Return: Casper Ruud backed up his breakthrough 2021 season with an even stronger campaign this year, rising as high as World No. 2 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings after his run to the US Open final. The Norwegian also reached finals at Roland Garros and Miami and won three ATP Tour titles on the season to confirm his return ticket to Turin.
A semi-finalist in his Nitto ATP Finals debut one year ago, Ruud has the honour of playing the first singles match at this year's event. He will take on Auger-Aliassime on Sunday afternoon.
The 23-year-old enjoyed strong support from his packed player box in 2021, and has once again travelled with a big entourage this year. This time, that group includes two special guests: his grandmothers.
5) Felix's First: Auger-Aliassime caps a year in which he won his first four ATP Tour titles with his debut at the Nitto ATP Finals. The Canadian made his breakthrough with victory in his ninth tour-level final, lifting his first trophy in Rotterdam, and ended the season as a man on fire with three straight trophies in Florence, Antwerp and Basel.
But even with that late run, the Canadian had to wait until the final week — when he reached the semi-finals at the Rolex Paris Masters — to clinch his place in Turin.
With all four of his titles coming on indoor hard courts, no one will be looking forward to facing the in-form 22-year-old. Auger-Aliassime, who leads the ATP Tour this season in hard-court wins (41) and indoor wins (27), won't have to wait long to make his debut against Ruud.
6) Medvedev In Stacked Red Group: Medvedev is one of three former Nitto ATP Finals champions in the Red Group, joining Tsitsipas and Djokovic, with Rublev completing the quartet. The 2020 champion is making his fourth consecutive appearance at the season finale, where he holds a 9-4 record.
Both of Medvedev's 2022 titles came in the second half of the year, in Los Cabos and Vienna, and he is well rested entering Turin after an early exit at the Rolex Paris Masters. The 26-year-old will play his first match in 12 days when he takes on Rublev on Monday afternoon.
7) Third Time Lucky For Rublev?: Making his third straight appearance at the Nitto ATP Finals, Rublev will hope to build on his incremental progress at the event. After earning a win in his final round-robin match against Thiem in 2020, he took the opening set in a winner-takes-all round-robin finale against Ruud in 2021, ultimately bowing out after losing a third-set tie-break.
One of four men with four tour-level titles this season, Rublev's most recent trophy came in Gijon in October. He enters Turin with a 49-18 record, one win shy of reaching the 50-win mark for the second straight season. If he can match his 2021 wins total of 53, he will, at the least, find himself in the final.
8) Fritz's Debut: Fritz joins Auger-Aliassime in making his Nitto ATP Finals debut this year, the 25-year-old becoming the first American to compete at the year-end event since John Isner in 2018. He bids to become the first American semi-finalist at the event since Jack Sock in 2017.
The Californian claimed three tour-level titles in 2022, including his first ATP Masters 1000 crown in Indian Wells, where he beat Nadal in the final. His appearance in Turin caps a breakthrough year in which he cracked the Top 10 of the Pepperstone ATP Rankings for the first time and reached his first Grand Slam quarter-final at Wimbledon.
Fritz is one of five men in the Turin field who have previously played at the Intesa Sanpaolo Next Gen ATP Finals, joining Medvedev, Rublev, Ruud and 2018 Milan champ Tsitsipas.
9) New Doubles Champs Guaranteed: While three men in the Nitto ATP Finals doubles field are former champions — Jean-Julien Rojer, Wesley Koolhof and Nikola Mektic — none of the eight teams have won the title as a pair. Second seeds Rajeev Ram and Joe Salisbury have come closest, reaching the final together last year before falling to Fenchmen Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut.
Koolhof and Mektic won the year-end title together in 2020, but return with different partners this season. Doubles World No. 1 Koolhof teams with Neal Skupski, with the top seeds seeking their eighth tour-level title of the season. Mektic teams with Mate Pavic, the Croatians looking to improve upon their semi-final run one year ago in Turin. Both of those teams are in the Green Group alongside fifth seeds Ivan Dodig and Austin Krajicek, and eighth seeds Thanasi Kokkinakis and Nick Kyrgios.
The Red Group, led by US Open champions Ram/Salisbury, also includes Roland Garros champs Marcelo Arevalo and Rojer, sixth seeds Lloyd Glasspool and Harri Heliovaara and seventh seeds Marcel Granollers and Horacio Zeballos.
10) Kokkinakis/Kyrgios Make Debut: The Australian Open champions are one of two teams comprised entirely of Nitto ATP Finals debutants, the other being Glasspool/Heliovaara. On the strength of their Grand Slam success in their home nation and a second title in Atlanta, Kokkinakis and Kyrgios enter Turin at eighth in the Pepperstone ATP Live Doubles Teams Rankings.
The Aussie fan favourites will bring their unique brand of explosive tennis to Turin, back on the same side of the net after facing off in singles for the first time as professionals at the US Open. In their first action since reaching the Tokyo semi-finals last month, they will face top seeds Koolhof/Skupski on Monday.