UPDATE: Alexander Zverev reprises his performance from the Summer Olympics, defeating Novak Djokovic in the semifinals of the ATP's year-end championships, 7-6 (4), 4-6, 6-3, to set up a title match against Daniil Medvedev.

Match point:

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Every time you place a bet against Alexander Zverev, you should know that if he brings his absolute best level, he will almost certainly win the match. In full flight, with a high first-serve percentage, Zverev’s combination of court coverage and power is borderline unbeatable.

The German will face Novak Djokovic for the fifth time this year, with the Serbian leading their 2021 head to head, 3-1. Neither player has won or lost a match in straight sets, and Djokovic typically brings out the best in Zverev. Zverev won at the Olympics and took the world No. 1 to five sets at the US Open.

“We played basically every single big event this year on hard court against each other. We played at the Australian Open, we played at the Olympics, and we played at the US Open, so it's only right that we play each other here as well,” Zverev told press at Turin. “I’m looking forward to it. I think it's always interesting. It's always close when we play each other, so I'm looking forward to hopefully, another tough one.”

Since their five-setter at the US Open, the No. 3-ranked Zverev has gone 14-3, including two wins and a third-set tiebreak defeat to world No. 2 Daniil Medvedev at the ATP Finals. But he knows Djokovic will be an even bigger challenge.

“There is going to be a lot more long rallies in Novak's match. I think we are going to run a lot more,” Zverev said. “We are going to suffer, in a way, a lot more.”

Djokovic owns a 7-3 record against Zverev, and a 3-1 record in 2021.

Djokovic owns a 7-3 record against Zverev, and a 3-1 record in 2021. 

According to the oddsmakers, Djokovic is listed as a solid -238 favorite and projected to win by three total games. It’s a pretty tough line, as a plausible 7-6, 6-4, Djokovic victory would result in a push.

But while Zverev has recently complained of fatigue towards the end of the brutally long season, Djokovic appears to (still) be gaining some serious momentum. He outclassed Medvedev in the Paris final, and has yet to drop a set this week in Turin.

Zverev expects a tighly-contested encounter against Djokovic, especially with the speed of the indoor hardcourt at the tournament.

“I think every single match that we played was very close. Every single match that we played we both needed to be at our best,” Zverev said. “One or two points decided the matches. I expect no different here.”

My first instinct is to simply play Djokovic to win by three games. But once again, the -3 game handicap is a sharp line, and any plays should be on the small side.

It’s tough to argue against betting on the greatest player of all time, so that’s what we’ll do.

The Pick: Novak Djokovic -3 games

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Additional reporting from Matt Cronin.