On Tuesday, world No. 6 Felix Auger-Aliassime faces world No. 2 Rafael Nadal at the Nitto ATP Finals. On Sunday, Auger-Aliassime was upset by Casper Ruud in his first round-robin match, while Nadal was unable to earn a victory over Taylor Fritz. Now, these players both enter Tuesday’s meeting in desperate need of a win. It’s going to be very hard to advance to the semifinals of the year-end event after an 0-2 start, so the intensity will be there when these two take the court here.

While Nadal badly wants to win this event—he has never won the ATP Finals before—we noted in our first writeup that he would need to handle his business against Fritz and Ruud in order to make the semifinals. But the 22-time major champion had a lot of trouble dealing with Fritz’s serve and overall power on the fast hard courts in Turin, which isn’t exactly a great sign heading into this match. Auger-Aliassime is a better server than the American, and he also has a lot more weapons from the baseline when he is on his game. And while Auger-Aliassime lost to Ruud in his opener here, we expect him to bounce back.


Nadal is 2-0 against Auger-Aliassime in tour-level matches, but the Canadian did beat him in an exhibition in late June.

Nadal is 2-0 against Auger-Aliassime in tour-level matches, but the Canadian did beat him in an exhibition in late June.  

Auger-Aliassime was the hottest player on the planet heading into the Rolex Paris Masters, where he ended up losing to eventual champion Holger Rune. But he's still won three of his last four tournaments and solidified himself as a Top 10 player. It could get a little nervy out there in this one, but it’s hard to overlook the difference between these two players right now.

Whereas Auger-Aliassime is one of the best servers in the world, Nadal has looked rather pedestrian with the ball on his racquet recently. That ultimately did him in against Fritz, who was also able to punish some of Nadal’s high-bouncing shots. FAA will likely do the same with any sitters that Rafa gives him, as he has the ability to really hit the cover off the ball with his forehand.

It also doesn’t hurt that Uncle Toni is now in Auger-Aliassime’s player box. As one of the Canadian’s coaches, he’ll be able to give the 22-year-old some tips on how to defeat his nephew. That type of wisdom should be massive for Auger-Aliassime to lean on, which is part of the reason we think he’ll win this match and cover the small 1.5-game spread.

The Pick: Auger-Aliassime -1.5 Games (-120)