Novak Djokovic and Carlos Alcaraz lord over their own groups in a spruced-up, more intriguing Nitto ATP Finals 2023 draw this year. The year-ending, high-money event in Turin, Italy features the sport’s absolute elite in terms of talent and excitement, with the notable exception of Rafael Nadal. Rafa appears headed for yet another comeback in 2024.
The question going into the draw was which group would get hometown kid Jannik Sinner, who has leveled up his game in 2023 and just smartly withdrew from the Paris Masters– not because of injury– but because of unfair scheduling by tournament organizers. Sinner will be rested for this ATP Finals 2023, and he’ll need it. The Italian landed in Djokovic’s group.
The format of the ATP Finals sends the winner and runner-up of each group’s simple round robin to a final four mini-tournament on the culminating weekend. The real headliner of this event is money. The 15 million dollar prize pool outclasses even the Grand Slams.
ATP Finals 2023 Draw: Green Group Preview
Djokovic vs Rune H2H 2-2. Holger Rune is one of the few players on the planet with a favorable head-to-head with the 24-time Grand Slam champion. Even more impressive, one of those wins came on hard court and the other on clay. The Dane is simply a magnificent athlete who can battle with Djokovic both from the ground and at the net. His only worry seems to be injury and cramping. In other words: overall fitness. That’s the specialty of Djokovic. The GOAT will out-fitness, out-prepare and out-manage you to a point where you don’t even know how or why you lost. Still, their matches are always close, never straight-set affairs. The presence of Boris Becker in the coaching box only adds to the drama. Djokovic in 3.
Djokovic vs Tsitsipas H2H 11-2 Djokovic. This is an ugly matchup for Tsitsipas, who hasn’t beaten Novak since 2019 in Shanghai. The Greek seems to have a better shot on clay. The fast indoor courts of the ATP Finals 2023 are the opposite of clay. Stefanos needs a unique game plan, something truly radical. He also must figure out a sound strategy to defend his one-handed backhand. Probably the best tactic would be to come into the net all day everyday and avoid balls to his backhand wing at all, finito. Djokovic in 2.
Djokovic vs Sinner H2H 3-0 Djokovic. Weirdly, these two bigwigs of tennis have never met on a hard court. Not officially anyway. They frequently spar on various home courts in Monte Carlo and even around the world, but this will be their first clash in these conditions. Sinner famously took a 2-set lead over Djokovic at Wimbledon 2022 until Novak stormed back and won easily. Sinner will need more scrap, grit and net play to even grab a set from Djokovic. He cannot afford to stay back and rally with the GOAT. The graceful redhead definitely has the skills, but does he have the mentality? Djokovic in 3.
Sinner vs Tsitsipas H2H 5-2 Tsitsipas. Sinner has improved his serve, his net play and his fitness in 2023. The head-to-head is therefore misleading. The Italian took Stef to five sets in an Australian Open barnburner this year, which Tsitipas eked out. Still it was a better result for Sinner. Then Jannik rolled over an injured Tsitsipas in Rotterdam this past February. With his improved game, that’s more in line with expectations here. Sinner in 3.
Sinner vs Rune H2H 2-0 Rune. This could be the match of the Green Group round robin. It represents two of the best young players the ATP has to offer, outside of Alcaraz. They are beautiful players and even more game competitors. Rune can be temperamental. Sinner can be too cool for school. Normally, you’d think of a Scandinavian as being icy and the Italian as being fiery. Flip the script. Their two previous meetings have gone the distance. I think the winner is the player who comes forward earlier, because who wants to rally with either of these dudes? Or it might come down to who is firing the first serve more definitely. Second serve points are pick ‘ems. Sinner in 3.
Tsitsipas vs Rune H2H 2-0 Rune. Another favorable head-to-head against a top player for Holger! And again, Rune did it once on indoor hard, the other time on clay. Both meetings came in 2022. Rune employs an excellent analyst in Mike James. The winning Tsitsipas patterns are right there, and Holger knows how to run them. The winning patterns against Rune are less clear. Tsitipas will need to serve well and avoid extended rallies where Rune can pick on his backhand and lack of a sound slice. Rune in 2.
Players to watch for advancement: Djokovic, Sinner
ATP Finals 2023 Draw: Red Group Preview
Alcaraz vs Zverev H2H 3-3. This is an intriguing match, given external factors. The German’s wins over Alcaraz came in 2021, before Carlitos had really busted out from the pack. Alcaraz whipped up on Zverev in a straight-set crushing at the US Open a few months ago. Zverev is a player who hasn’t necessarily lived up to his potential in Grand Slams but has won the ATP Finals twice (2018, 2021). He thrives under the equalization of conditions indoors. Alcaraz is battling foot and back problems and isn’t 100 percent. Now would be the time for the German to pounce, but he might be carrying a bit of a mental block. Alcaraz in 3.
Alcaraz vs Rublev H2H 0-0. This is what makes the ATP Finals so lovable. These two ATP mainstays have never met! How can that be? This is the perfect time and place for this match because while Andrey Rublev might be the slightly lesser player in rank and overall ability, the Russian excels on hard courts. His rocket forehand will skid. Rublev will test Alcaraz’s legs. Any topspin Carlitos uses will sit up in Rublev’s strike zone. This could be a very close match. Rublev will soon see what all the hubbub is about when Alcaraz returns his serve, particularly the 2nd. Best to make first serves at a clip over 80%, Andrey. Alcaraz in 3.
Alcaraz vs Medvedev H2H 2-2. What an intriguing series these two players with vastly differing styles have. The Spaniard appeared to have the Russian’s number and was poised to vault into the 2023 US Open Final to clash with Djokovic when Medvedev caught fire and could not miss in his semifinal meeting with Alcaraz. A weary-looking Alcaraz lost rhythm and pressed, making too many errors. This match will be an interesting test of who learned more from that memorable meeting. If Alcaraz attacks and also uses his drop shot to pull Meddy into uncomfortable territory, the proper order of things should be restored. Alcaraz in 2.
Medvedev vs Zverev H2H 10-7 Medvedev. This is the “frenemies” match of players who at various times have been portrayed as close childhood pals (or not). In this huge body of work, if you take out Meddy’s two wins on clay, they have a razor-thin 8-7 head-to-head, all on hard court. They’re similar players. Medvedev has the mental edge here, but Zverev knows the courts. It will come down to a few points and who is serving more consistently. Medvedev in 3.
Medvedev vs Rublev H2H 6-2 Medvedev. These two really are bros, with Rublev serving as godfather to Medvedev’s firstborn. Medvedev typically outlasts Rublev in a baseline war of attrition, but Andrey did squeak out a win in last year’s ATP Finals. When they recently met at the US Open, the weather was hot as hades and Meddy held up better. Now they’re in the climate-controlled confines of Turin. That might favor Rublev but not enough to figure out the octopus. Medvedev in 3.
Rublev vs Zverev H2H 5-3 Zverev. The German owns the career series, but Rublev has taken the last 3 meetings. It’s difficult for tall players to deal with Rublev’s flat, skidding firebomb forehand in these conditions. It’s a real problem. You have to clear the net, but any use of topspin simply sets you up for more of the same. This should be a favorable matchup for Rublev if he peppers the Zverev forehand in search of errors. Rublev in 2.
Players to watch for advancement: Alcaraz, Medvedev
SF: Djokovic, Alcaraz
Every single match at the Nitto ATP Finals 2023 offers delicious possibilities. Gorge on the tennis feast.