Players at the ATP Finals are presented with a daunting task. Unlike any other tournament, the round-robin gauntlet of the world’s best players offers no reprieve whatsoever. Typically working their way into tournaments all year with breezy first round victories, they now must raise their game to maximum heights from the very first point.

Andrey Rublev learned that lesson the hard way last year. After his Texas-sized 2020, many were predicting him to upset Rafael Nadal on perhaps the Spaniard’s worst surface, a quick indoor hard court. Things went very differently, and the Russian was blitzed 6-3, 6-4, in just over an hour. He then lost his next match to Stefanos Tsitsipas, and was quickly eliminated from semifinal contention.

He’ll now get a chance to avenge his loss to the Greek last year on Monday in Turin. According to the oddsmakers, Tsitsipas is listed as a slight -129. They’ve had many stellar matches in their brief careers, but this time around, neither is playing quite up to the lofty standards they previously set.

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Tsitsipas owns a 4-3 record over Rublev.

Tsitsipas owns a 4-3 record over Rublev. 

Tsitsipas’ backhand return has proved to be a liability in these conditions, so Rublev will need to hit his spots on the first serve in order to generate first-ball forehands. If he gets enough of these looks, there’s typically nothing you can do to combat his insane pace.

The over/under total is set at 23 games, which is still a decent bet, but 22.5 would be a lot nicer, as a 7-6, 6-4 victory in either direction is entirely plausible.

Rublev is in the midst of a cold streak, winning just two of his last seven matches, but Tsitsipas is fighting an elbow-injury that forced him to withdraw from Paris. “In Paris the pain was unbearable,” he said, which shouldn’t inspire confidence in his backers.

Given all the uncertainty surrounding both players, the safe bet is on the over 23 game total, which has hit in six of their eight previous encounters, Challengers included.

The Pick: Over 23 games