Rafael Nadal refused to make excuses after being outplayed by defending champion Alexander Zverev on the ATP Finals on Monday as Stefanos Tsitsipas acquired his marketing campaign off to a flying begin. The Spanish prime seed, who has by no means gained the season-ending occasion, got here into the match at London’s O2 Enviornment underneath an harm cloud and was effectively wanting his imperious greatest as he went down 6-2, 6-4. Within the earlier round-robin match in Group Andre Agassi, sixth seed Tsitsipas beat Daniil Medvedev 7-6 (7/5), 6-4, admitting their spiky relationship had made his job more durable. Nadal is locked in a battle with Novak Djokovic to complete because the year-end primary however was not serving flat out in follow final week attributable to an stomach pressure that compelled him to drag out of the Paris Masters on the semi-final stage.
The 33-year-old led Germany’s Zverev 5-Zero in head-to-head contests coming into the match however was uncharacteristically sloppy within the first set, conceding two breaks of serve.
Buoyed by his dominant begin, Zverev, seeded seventh, broke within the first sport of the second set to take an iron grip on the match.
Nadal dug deep, urging himself on however his 22-year-old opponent proved too robust. He didn’t concede a single break level in the whole match.
Zverev hit a complete of 26 winners — double his opponent’s tally — and Nadal managed simply three forehand winners in the whole match.
“The bodily subject was not an excuse in any respect,” mentioned the Spanish 19-time Grand Slam champion, who mentioned he didn’t really feel any ache from his stomach harm. “The one excuse is I used to be not adequate tonight.”
“What actually issues is I must play a lot better in two days. That is the one factor,” he added. “We knew that it was going to be powerful, as a result of the time period because the harm till immediately may be very brief, however we’re right here attempting.”
Zverev, one among 4 gamers underneath the age of 24 on the occasion in London, was delighted to recapture his greatest type after a blended season.
“This implies a lot, enjoying right here once more after profitable my greatest title up to now in my profession right here final yr,” he mentioned. “This implies all the pieces to me.
“Taking part in right here, enjoying in entrance of you all, enjoying within the O2 is one thing that we do not have through the yr, and that is so particular.”
Nadal faces a tricky activity now to qualify for the semi-finals from the group section, with matches nonetheless to return towards Tsitsipas and Medvedev.
The Spaniard has certified for the year-end championships for 15 years in a row however has solely made 9 appearances attributable to accidents.
Earlier, Tsitsipas made gentle of a 5-Zero dropping document towards his Russia’s Medvedev, edging a first-set tie-break and breaking late within the second set to seal the match.
The 2 gamers have had a rocky relationship.
Tensions flared between them in Miami final yr and Tsitsipas just lately labelled Medvedev’s means of profitable as “boring” after defeat towards the Russian in Shanghai.
The Greek participant mentioned Medvedev had acquired “into my head” in Miami — he mentioned the row had centred on a requirement from the Russian for an apology over a web twine.
“I imply, our chemistry undoubtedly is not the perfect that you could find on the Tour,” mentioned Tsitsipas, who added that Monday’s match had been more durable as a result of he was so determined to win.
Djokovic launched his bid for a sixth ATP Finals title with a snug win towards Matteo Berrettini on Sunday however Roger Federer slipped to a straight-sets defeat towards Dominic Thiem.