The 50th anniversary of the season-ending ATP tournament served off at the 02 Arena in London on Sunday with the Group London 2020. World No.2 seed, Rafael Nadal, made short work of No. 8 seed, Andrey Rublev 6-3, 6-4 in 78 minutes.
The ATP Finals is the only tournament Nadal, 20-time Grand Slam winner, is yet to win.
In the courtside interview afterward, Nadal said the win will give him confidence for the rest of the tournament.
“It’s important to start well, of course, for the confidence, because winning [in] straight sets helps,” Nadal said.
“The serve tonight was very important. I played solidly with my serve. I didn’t suffer much, and that helps [me] to play more relaxed on the return. That’s what I did.” Nadal also added that the result was largely caused by Rublev committing more unforced errors than expected.
In the other match in the same group, No.3 seed Dominic Thiem needed three sets to get the better of the defending champion, Stefanos Tsitsipas 7-6(5), 4-6, 6-3. The first set went to a tie-break and Thiem had to come back from 5-1 down to take the first set.
“I experienced in the past four years how important it is to have a good start in this tournament, to ideally win the first match. I am very happy that I did it,” said Thiem afterward, in the on-court interview.
On Monday, world No.1, Novak Djokovic will come up against Argentine pocket rocket, Diego Schwartzman in the first match in Group Tokyo 1970 while the rivalry between Daniil Medvedev and Sascha Zverev opens to another chapter after Medvedev got the better of Zverev at the Paris Masters.
The Russian told the ATP website that he was confident of continuing that form against his younger opponent. “I have confidence in myself so I think it will help me here in London.
“In Paris, everything went together. I played really good tennis, it was tough to miss and that’s why I’m in my best shape and that’s when it’s tough to beat me,” Medvedev added.