It was a great day for two former champions at this year’s Nitto ATP Finals in Turin, as they hoped to repeat their previous successes by claiming wins in the first round of Red Group matches.
You don’t want to go down a set and a break against the World No. 2, so I am happy Alexander Zverev
In contrast, it was a tough day at the office for Carlos Alcaraz making his debut at the event as he opened his campaign with a loss to two-time champion, Germany’s Alexander Zverev, (2018 & 2021) who upset the world No.2 from Spain, 6-7(3) 6-3 6-4.
Zverev, who towers over Alcaraz by 6’, recovered from the loss of a tight first set, to dominate the next two with his serve saving both breaks he faced including one early in the second,
“My serve helped me a lot. Saving the break point in the first game of the second set helped me,” a satisfied Zverev said as he reflected on the match. “You don’t want to go down a set and a break against the World No. 2, so I am happy.”
Alcaraz may well have lost his first match at the Finals, but he can recover as the top two players from each group at the end of the Rund Robin stage, progress to the semi-finals and the knockout stage.
“Congratulations to Alex for the win!” Alcaraz posted on twitter. “This tournament is different in many ways, and one of them is that it allows you to reach the semis despite losing the first match. We will give our all on Wednesday!”
Then the Red Group play their second round of matches when Zverev will take on fellow former champion Daniil Medvedev (2020) and Alcaraz faces Andrey Rublev.
“I was feeling good physically and still am, but after the defeat I don’t feel good in terms of my tennis level,” Alcaraz added. “It’s been a long and demanding year. I have to improve to get to this point of the season in better conditions, above all mentally. It’s probably mental fatigue. If I want to win this tournament.
“At least I know exactly what is happening and what I have to improve on. I will have to get to work. I’m getting increasingly better at facing this kind of player, and even more so here, where every match could be a Grand Slam final.”
In the evening match of the day’s schedule, Medvedev cruised past his Russian countryman Rublev 6-4 6-2, blasting ten aces while staving off seven break points to keep his countryman at bay throughout the 91-minute contest.
“I felt good and I managed to put it on the court,” Medvedev said following his relatively comfortable win. “First set was really tough. I managed to just get a little bit the upper hand on the most clutch moments, and this helped me in the second, so I’m really happy.”
Meanwhile the Green Group is back in action on Tuesday with the seven-time and defending champion, Novak Djokovic, on a 19-match winning streak, facing home hope Jannik Sinner in what is expected to be one of the highlight matches of the week.
“Jannik obviously is in a great form,” Djokovic said. “He’s been playing maybe the tennis of his life this year; best season of his career.
“Jannik is one of the fastest and strongest hitters from the baseline out there in the world that we have and have had for the last couple years. I know his game very well. I never lost to him (in three previous occasions), but we had some really close matches. Last time we played in semis of Wimbledon, obviously.
“It’s going to be nice I think for the tournament, us facing each other. I think we both in great form. Let’s see what happens.”
The other match pitches Holger Rune against Stefanos Tsitsipas who are looking for their first win at this year’s event with the Dane 2-0 up from previous meetings.
“Every single opponent is at their best right now,” Tsitsipas, the 2019 champion, said. “I’m not entering the court thinking that I might get a chance or an opportunity or having someone under-play of what their potential is.
“Holger has been pretty good against me in some of the encounters and matches that we’ve had against each other. I believe that he’s a tough competitor and someone that fights really hard on the court. Whether he’s up or down, he will not give up.”
An exciting day of tennis is being promised!