Expert picks are back for the Nitto ATP Finals championship match on Sunday, when world No. 1 Novak Djokovic faces crowd favorite Jannik Sinner. A three-team panel previews the action and makes its predictions.
(1) Novak Djokovic vs. (4) Jannik Sinner
Ricky: This is a rematch of what has been the best match of the tournament to date. During round-robin competition in the Green Group, Sinner outlasted Djokovic 7-5, 6-7(5), 7-6(2) in a battle that lasted more than three hours. Asking the 22-year-old Italian to beat Djokovic twice in the same tournament is simply too much. Djokovic is already a six-time champion of this event and he is making his ninth final appearance. The top-seeded Serb was absolutely dominant in his semifinal match against Carlos Alcaraz, too. That being said, this could be another thriller. Sinner is 4-0 in this week and is playing incredible tennis in front a raucous Turin crowd. I can’t pick against Djokovic because he will be more motivated than he was on Tuesday, when it wasn’t a must-win situation. But it’s not going to be easy. Djokovic in 3: 4-6, 6-4, 6-3.
Cheryl: It’s a rematch from just a few days ago. Sinner played inspired tennis to give Djokovic his first loss since he fell short in the Wimbledon title match against Alcaraz. It was the first time Sinner managed to get a ‘W’ against Djokovic. The problem (for Sinner and the Carota Boys, anyway), is that this isn’t a round-robin match. On Sunday they are playing for all the marbles. And Djokovic is just…different when he’s playing in the final. Sure, Sinner’s going to have the crowd in a frenzy. And the Italian has been in the form of his young career this fall. I’d even generally say that the surface is a slight edge to Sinner, since it’s quick enough that it limits the amount of retrieving the world No. 1 can do. But even with all of that said, unless Djokovic is playing a peak Rafael Nadal at the French Open I simply do not pick against the Serb when he is in a title match. He’s too clutch and he’s done it so many times; he’s an expert at managing the pressure. Djokovic in 3: 7-6(5), 5-7, 6-2.