Rublev rolls Medvedev as Djoker defeats Stef
SIXTH seed Andrey Rublev won the all-Russian clash on day two of the ATP Finals event in Torino, defeating Daniil Medvedev in an epic three-set match. The lower ranked Russian won 6-7 6-3 7-6, coming back from the brink to need five match points before closing out the contest 9-7 in the deciding tiebreaker.
In a match that lasted two hours and 31 minutes, Rublev weathered 24 aces off Medvedev’s racquet, while serving nine himself. The sixth seed also won 82 and 60 per cent of his first and second serve points off a 69 per cent clip. His elder countryman struggled off his second serve, with just 44 per cent of points being successful, while producing eight double faults. Medvedev only conjured up two break point opportunities – breaking once – while Rublev broke three times from nine chances.
The pair have a long-time friendship, with Medvedev winning the first four clashes between the two, however Rublev has now won the past two head-to-heads, coming back from a set down on both occasions. Rublev said the tight match reminded him of the 2020 US Open quarter final, a Grand Slam Medvedev went on to win, being successful 7-6 6-3 7-6 in that clash.
“I was thinking about the US Open, because when we played in the quarter-finals in 2020, I think I was 5/1 in a tie-break, also something like 6/2, but I was leading something similar in a tie-break,” Rublev said. “But when I lost that set, I couldn’t play anymore, and I was thinking it cannot happen the same [again], I have to change something. I have to keep playing, because if I win one set, even if I lose in three sets, it’s still good, because here you have a group. You have to fight for every point, every game, and I was able to win.
“The final tiebreak, the rallies that we had there were crazy. The last rally, we had I don’t know, 30 shots. I was cramping a bit already, but I was thinking ‘One more, one more’. You have to keep playing. For sure he felt the same, so just keep playing if you have the chance, just go for it’. In the end I was able to win.”
In the other match, former world number one and 21-time Grand Slam winner Novak Djokovic kicked off his campaign with a straight sets win over Stefanos Tsitsipas. Seeded at an unusual seventh for the event, Djokovic was able to take out the second seed, 6-4 7-6. In the process, Djokovic ruled out the possibility of Tsitsipas becoming the first Greek world number one.
“We have played some really close matches in the past few tournaments against each other,” Djokovic said after extending his head-to-head against the Greek talent to 10-2. “It was very important to start off well. I held my serve really well throughout the match. I played a great tie-break, very solid all the way through.”
Djokovic is eyeing off a record-equalling sixth ATP Finals trophy, having not succeeded since 2015. In the first round robin match, Djokovic only served the three aces to Tsitsipas’ nine, but broke the Greek second seed once from two chances. Closing out the match 7-4 in the second set tiebreak, Djokovic ensured he started the tournament off on the perfect note, with Rublev and Medvedev to come.