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ATP Finals 2020: Rafael Nadal & Dominic Thiem win London openers

Posted By : Vincent Ashitey

Rafael Nadal began his bid for the biggest title missing from his vast collection with an ATP Finals win over Russian debutant Andrey Rublev.

Spanish second seed Nadal, 34, won 6-3 6-4 as the season-ending event began in London for the final time.

Earlier on the opening day, third seed Dominic Thiem avenged his defeat by Greece's Stefanos Tsitsipas in last year's final with a three-set victory.

US Open champion Thiem won 7-6 (7-5) 4-6 6-3 at an empty O2 Arena.

Nadal's straight-set success moved him above the Austrian at the top of Group London 2020 - named in tribute to the event's 50th anniversary - after the opening matches.

Seeing off in-form Rublev - who has won more matches and more titles than anyone else on the ATP Tour this year - was the perfect start for Nadal.

"I am very pleased with the victory, it changes the perspective of the tournament a little bit," said Nadal, who lost in the 2010 and 2013 finals.

"I know I have a super difficult match against Dominic but a win in two sets helps for the confidence."

Only one of the left-hander's 86 career titles has come on an indoor hard court, but he shifted up a gear from his displays in similar conditions at this month's Paris Masters - where he lost in the semi-finals - to frustrate Rublev.

Eighth seed Rublev struggled on serve in the first set - admitting it was a sign of nerves on his Finals debut - and was punished when Nadal earned the decisive break for a 4-2 lead, which he did not relinquish.

Rublev showed his annoyance at his performance by thumping his racquet against the court and more woe came the 23-year-old's way when Nadal broke in the opening game of the second set.

"When he broke me in the second set I started to relax but by then it was too late," Rublev said.

From that point, it seemed almost inevitable the 20-time Grand Slam champion would wrap up a straight-set win and duly did without even facing a break point.

"My serve worked really well, that always helps on this surface and I had a few chances on the return, which I converted," added Nadal, who won 81% of his service points and converted two of five break points.

Source: BBC

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