On Sunday, November 13, world No. 9 Taylor Fritz will face world No. 2 Rafael Nadal in each player's first round-robin match at the Nitto ATP Finals. This is an important match for Nadal, who is looking to win the ATP Finals for the first time in his career. Sure, a loss wouldn’t bounce him from the tournament, but it would have big consequences.

Nadal doesn’t want to go into his later round-robin match, against red-hot Felix Auger-Aliassime, needing a win. Rafa needs to take care of business against both Fritz and world No. 4 Casper Ruud, who are the weakest player in the green group. Rafa should also be taking this meeting with Fritz very seriously because the American beat him in the final at Indian Wells in March and then took him to a deciding set at Wimbledon in July.

This is the type of matchup that is typically very tough for Nadal, as Fritz is a big, physical player with a very big serve. But Fritz hasn’t exactly been playing well coming into this tournament. The American has lost two of his last three matches, including a defeat at the hands of Gilles Simon at the Rolex Paris Masters. Simon was actually a dangerous player at that tournament, as it was the last event of his professional career and he had the hometown crowd firmly in his corner. But that was still a match that Fritz should have won, as Simon doesn’t possess many weapons on the court and his age (37) makes it hard on him to play the type of defense he used to be known for. The result proved that Fritz just isn’t in great form.


Rafael Nadal is a 22-time Grand Slam champion, but the Spaniard has never won the ATP Finals.

Rafael Nadal is a 22-time Grand Slam champion, but the Spaniard has never won the ATP Finals. 

Nadal is also coming off a tough loss in Paris, unable to get by Tommy Paul in his first match. But Paul played really well in that tournament and Nadal was playing in his first match since the US Open. He was just knocking the rust off and getting his feet wet before heading to Turin, where we think he’ll be extremely locked in all week. Nadal can give everything he has at this event because he knows that he’ll have about a month and a half to rest and recover before the Australian Open. Also, Nadal has to be feeling pretty good about where his game and health are right now, as he had the option of pulling out of this event­. Carlos Alcaraz had to skip this competition with an injury, and some of the top players in the world are in Italy waiting as alternates for that very reason.

With Nadal really looking to make a run at this thing this week, it’s just impossible to lay off him at such short odds. There’s no such thing as an easy matchup at the ATP Finals, but Nadal knows he’s in the easier of the two groups. With that in mind, he’ll be feeling confident heading into this match, where his on-court savvy should really overwhelm Fritz. Rafa should be able to use his ability to construct points to his advantage against Fritz, who normally has a massive edge in the power department over his opponents. The American will need to be flawless with his serve in order to win this match, but we just don’t foresee that being an issue. And we think Nadal will overcome the indoor hard courts, which have given him trouble before.

The Pick: Nadal To Win (-125)