Defending champion Alexander Zverev has pulled off another huge win at the ATP Finals by beating world No.1 Rafael Nadal for the first time.
Nadal had a 5-0 record against Zverev but had an uncharacteristically mistake-filled performance at the O2 Arena as the German eased to a 6-2 6-4 victory.
In his first match since pulling out of the Paris Masters semifinals with an abdominal injury, Nadal dropped his serve three straight times, didn’t force a single break point, and his normally powerful forehand was responsible for more than four times as many unforced errors (13) as winners (three).
Zverev has now beaten Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer in his past three matches at the elite eight-man season-ending event.
Nadal has a history of being far from his best at the ATP Finals, which comes at the end of a gruelling season that often takes its toll on the Spaniard because of his ultra-physical playing style.
He has qualified for the event for 15 years in a row but has pulled out of it on six occasions because of injuries. His best results are two runner-up finishes.
This year he hasn’t completed a tournament since winning the US Open in August – also pulling out of Shanghai because of a hand injury.
But he showed up to London hoping to stave off Djokovic for the year-end No. 1 ranking.
Earlier on Monday, Stefanos Tsitsipas earned his first career win over Daniil Medvedev – and it clearly meant a lot to the 21-year-old who is the first Greek to qualify for the event.
Not only because Tsitsipas was 0-5 against the Russian before winning 7-6 (7-5) 6-4.
But mainly because two of the biggest rising stars in tennis simply don’t like each other that much.
“It’s a victory that I craved for a long time now, and it’s great that it came at this moment,” Tsitsipas said.
“Our chemistry definitely isn’t the best that you can find on the tour. It’s not that I hate him (but) we will not go to dinner together.”
Tsitsipas earned the only break of the match in London to take a 5-4 lead in the second set and clinched the win with a forehand overhead at the net.
“He was better today, but I felt like I was missing some things,” Medvedev said.
“This frustrates me after. I do think it would frustrate me against any other opponent. I hate to lose against anybody.
“Of course I wanted to make it even more bigger head-to-head, but it’s the way it is.”
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