Zverev too good for troubled Rafa at O2

Raz Mirza

Comment & Analysis @RazMirza

Stefanos Tsitsipas claims surprise win over fellow debutant Daniil Medvedev in their opening round-robin match earlier on Monday

Last Updated: 11/11/19 10:20pm

Rafael Nadal was convincingly beaten by Alexander Zverev in Group Andre Agassi
Rafael Nadal was convincingly beaten by Alexander Zverev in Group Andre Agassi

Alexander Zverev recorded his first victory over troubled world No 1 Rafael Nadal as the German made a perfect start to his ATP Finals defence.

The Spaniard suffered an abdominal problem at the Paris Masters and it appeared on this showing that he has not fully recovered for the season-ending tournament in London.

He couldn’t match the power and precision shown from Zverev, who dominated in every aspect to pull off somewhat of an upset win, 6-2 6-4.

Zverev played big-time tennis to see off Nadal
Zverev played big-time tennis to see off Nadal

Whether Nadal will be able to hold off Novak Djokovic for the year-end top spot will be the big story this week.

US Open champion Nadal had been unable to serve because of the injury and he was unsurprisingly tested in every service game until he succumbed under mounting pressure by the German, who broke through a couple of times to take the opening set.

Indoor hard courts have never been Nadal’s favourite surface and injury has often got in the way of his participation at the ATP Finals.

The German struck 11 aces and 26 winners en route to victory
The German struck 11 aces and 26 winners en route to victory

The 2010 and 2013 runner-up here has withdrawn ahead of the tournament six times since he first qualified in 2005 and two years ago was only able to complete one match.

Zverev, who claimed the biggest title of his career here last year, continued where he had left off in the first set by outplaying his opponent in every department.

The 22-year-old moved 2-0 up, while 19-time Grand Slam champion Nadal was being forced to dig deep after an eight-minute service game just to hold serve in the fifth game. Zverev served out the contest to seal a convincing win after one hour and 24 minutes.

No 1 up for grabs…

With Nadal’s loss, Djokovic now controls his own destiny for the year-end No 1 ranking. If Djokovic goes 5-0 at the ATP Finals, he will tie Pete Sampras’ record with his sixth finish at No 1 in ATP Rankings.

Stats of the match

Rafael Nadal vs Alexander Zverev: Match Stats

Nadal Match Stats Zverev
5 Aces 11
0 Double Faults 2
62% 1st serve win percentage 88%
43% 2nd serve win percentage 47%
3/7 Net points won 6/8
0/0 Break points won 3/4
13 Winners 26
17 Unforced errors 20
45 Total points won 64

Zverev recorded his first victory over Nadal having lost all his previous five meetings.

Carrots and spinach for Sascha

It’s great, everyone knows how much I struggled all season so to play here, after winning my biggest title last year, means everything. My fast serving? Carrots and spinach, whatever mum was giving me, is why I was doing this. Coming back here to practice last week was amazing, just being out here andin this stadium is something I wanted to do this year again. It was a huge goal. There were not a lot of ups this season. So, I hope I can play my best tennis this week.

Alexander Zverev

Stef steps up

Stefanos Tsitsipas recorded his first win over Daniil Medvedev in six meetings on his ATP Finals debut
Stefanos Tsitsipas recorded his first win over Daniil Medvedev in six meetings on his ATP Finals debut

Greek sixth seed Tsitsipas had not beaten Medvedev, this year’s US Open runner-up, in five previous meetings with the Russian.

But the 21-year-old found London’s O2 Arena to his liking as he battled to a 7-6 (7-5) 6-4 victory in a high-quality contest.

Russian Medvedev, 23, has won more matches than any other player this year, his total of 59 victories being five more than Novak Djokovic has managed.

But he could not manufacture a single break point against the dogged Tsitsipas, who secured the only break of the match at 5-4 in the second set before serving out the win.

Stats of the match

Daniil Medvedev vs Stefanos Tsitsipas: Match Stats

Medvedev Match Stats Tsitsipas
6 Aces 5
0 Double Faults 0
72% 1st serve win percentage 89%
54% 2nd serve win percentage 41%
5/11 Net points won 22/26
0/0 Break points won 1/4
24 Winners 26
16 Unforced errors 28
73 Total points won 77

Did you know…

18 of the last 19 singles matches at the ATP Finals have finished in straight sets [including both Monday’s matches]

Tsitsipas: I had goosebumps

It was one of the toughest, most important victories of my career so far. I gave myself a big boost, I kept believing, kept fighting, believing in myself, and that last game was one of the toughest. It’s such a relief. It’s not easy coming in knowing you lost five before, but I made a deal with myself to keep trying. I had great support, there are Greek flags everywhere, it feels like I’m playing in Athens. I had goosebumps.

Stefanos Tsitsipas

Medvedev frustrated

He was better today, but I felt like I was missing some things. 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.

Daniil Medvedev

Who plays who next…

Nadal will take on Medvedev next in a repeat of their US Open final
Nadal will take on Medvedev next in a repeat of their US Open final

Zverev takes on Tsitsipas in the second round-robin matches on Wednesday, while the pressure is on Nadal when he faces Medvedev in a rematch of their US Open final marathon, which the Spaniard won.

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Source : Sky Sports