Andrey Rublev signed off from the ATP Finals with a surprise victory over Dominic Thiem in London. 

The Russian took advantage of an off day for his opponent to score a 6-2 7-5 victory, a fine way to end a year in which he has won a tour-leading five titles. 

Thiem was already assured of a semi-final place before Thursday's clash at the O2, while Rublev was certain to go home, having already lost to Rafael Nadal and Stefanos Tsitsipas. 

Rather than Thiem completing a clean sweep of his three round-robin matches, however, it was Rublev who began on the front foot and coasted through the opening set. 

Rublev had squandered a match point with a double fault against Tsitsipas, and he clearly had a point to prove. Had he taken that opportunity on Tuesday, there would have been considerably more on the line in this contest. 

Thiem, one short of 300 career wins, hauled his way back from 4-2 behind to lead 5-4 on serve in the second set, but this was not a match when the US Open winner was at his best.

Rublev had a sniff on the Thiem serve at 5-5, forcing three break points and taking the third of those when the Austrian floated a backhand volley wide. 

He sealed victory with an ace, and later said on BBC Two: "I started well from the first return. I don't think Domi started well and I took advantage from the beginning. 

"In the end it was not easy for Domi but I think he is now focused on the semis and I wish him the best of luck. 

"He deserves to be where he is and he deserves to win the title, so we'll see what will happen." 

 

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS
Rublev - 26/9
Thiem - 16/15

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS
Rublev - 11/0
Thiem - 10/3

BREAK POINTS WON
Rublev - 4/10
Thiem - 1/1

Stefanos Tsitsipas stayed in the hunt for more ATP Finals glory by fending off Andrey Rublev in a gripping match at London's O2 Arena, with Rafael Nadal keeping a close eye.

Defending champion Tsitsipas landed a 6-1 4-6 7-6 (8-6) victory, and that was good news for Dominic Thiem whose place in the semi-finals was guaranteed by the outcome on Tuesday.

Rublev can no longer reach the final four, and it will come down to a clash on Thursday evening between Tsitsipas and Nadal to determine who joins Thiem in advancing from the London 2020 group.

Nadal was at courtside to check out his next opponent, and Tsitsipas looked in deep trouble when he faced match point in the deciding tie-break - only for Rublev to double-fault.

Both men came into this match on the back of defeats on Sunday, Tsitsipas edged out in a decider by Thiem while Rublev was beaten in straight sets by Nadal, who then lost to Thiem in a stunning contest on Tuesday afternoon.

This season has seen Rublev win five ATP titles, more than anyone else on tour, but his breakthrough at grand slam and Masters 1000 level has yet to come.

The same can be said for Tsitsipas; however, the Greek triumphed at this tournament last season to take a significant career step.

After Tsitsipas swept through the opening set with little resistance, Rublev stepped it up for the second and nine consecutive games went with serve.

It was a surprise when Rublev broke to level the match, a string of unforeseen errors from Tsitsipas giving up three set points. Rublev required just one, yelling "Come on!" as his opponent sent a forehand long.

Rublev then saved five break points in winning a dramatic third game of the decider, before the tie-break threw up plenty of drama. Tsitsipas had the match in his hands with two serves at 5-4 in the tie-break, but he lost both points and Rublev then blundered when serving at match point.

When Tsitsipas carved out his own match point, a forehand into the net from Rublev settled the outcome.

 

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS 

Tsitsipas: 24/16
Rublev:  26/32

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS

Tsitsipas: 10/0
Rublev:  6/2

BREAK POINTS WON

Tsitsipas: 2/9
Rublev: 1/1

Rafael Nadal was in impressive form on Sunday as he beat Andrey Rublev in straight sets in his first match of the ATP Finals.

The Spaniard, who drew level with Roger Federer on 20 grand slam singles titles when he won last month's French Open, needed just under 78 minutes to defeat Rublev 6-3 6-4 in London and claim a first opening win at the event since 2015.

Making his first appearance at the Finals, Rublev struggled on his serve and hit 22 unforced errors to Nadal's 11.

Nadal, who qualified for a record 16th consecutive year-end championships, broke in game six of the first set before seeing it out with a love service game.

Rublev has been the most successful player on the Tour in 2020 in terms of titles, winning five, but he cut a defeated figure as soon as Nadal went a break up at the start of the second set.

The world number eight eventually settled into his serve but Nadal was impervious to a comeback, seeing out the victory with his second match point when Rublev returned long.

"I think it has been a positive start for me," he said. "Always, the first match is very tricky.

"Here, every match is difficult, you play against the best of the best so [I am] very happy. [I am] sorry for Rublo but I wish him the very best for the rest of the tournament. He had an amazing season even under these very difficult conditions. We had the season and he was able to win a lot of titles so it's an important victory for me."

Nadal faces Dominic Thiem next, the US Open champion having started his tournament with a three-set win over Stefanos Tsitsipas.

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS
Nadal: 14/11
Rublev: 18/22

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS
Nadal: 2/0
Rublev: 9/1

BREAK POINTS WON
Nadal: 2/5
Rublev: 0/0

Rafael Nadal makes no excuse for his struggles on indoor courts but is hopeful he can end his wait to win the ATP Finals as the tournament is held in London for the final time. 

Nadal moved level with Roger Federer on 20 grand slam titles by winning his 13th French Open crown with a straight-sets defeat of Novak Djokovic at Roland Garros last month. 

However, while he has thrived on every outdoor surface throughout his storied career, he has won only two indoor titles. Glory has eluded him at the season-ending showpiece, which shifts to Turin in 2021. 

The Spaniard was runner-up in 2010 and 2013 and heads into this year's event with confidence after reaching the semi-finals of the Paris Masters. 

"We can find excuses or reasons but, at the end of the day, the numbers are the numbers," said Nadal of his indoor struggles. 

"I think I played less indoors than on the other surfaces, without a doubt. The indoor surfaces have not been the ideal surfaces for my tennis game since the beginning of my career. 

"I think I am able to play a little better in the past couple of years indoors than I did at the beginning of my tennis career, without a doubt, but [these are] the numbers. 

"I can't say something different. I hope to change that this week."

Nadal faces Andrey Rublev in his opening encounter at the O2 Arena, the Russian having won successive indoor titles in St Petersburg and Vienna last month. 

"I don't know how close I am to the perfect preparation," Nadal added. "I tried to fight hard in every single match in Bercy. 

"That put me in a position that I already played four matches on this surface and hopefully that can help me here, but there remains two days for me to practice here. 

"I hope to be ready to accept the challenge to play against such difficult opponents like Rublev in the first [match]."

Novak Djokovic avoided defending champion Stefanos Tsitsipas and third seed Dominic Thiem, who were both drawn alongside Rafael Nadal for the ATP Finals.

World number one Djokovic, who will be aiming to win the trophy for a record-equalling sixth time, will take on Daniil Medvedev, Alexander Zverev and Diego Schwartzman in Group Tokyo 1970.

The Serbian heads to London on the back of just his third defeat of the season – one of which was his default at the US Open – in the quarter-finals of the Vienna Open to Lorenzo Sonego.

Zverev won the title in 2018, while Medvedev is returning after his ATP Finals debut last year and Schwartzman has reached the event for the first time.

Nadal has qualified for the year-ending competition for a record 16th straight year but faces a tricky task in Group London 2020 alongside Thiem, Tsitsipas and Andrey Rublev.

Tsitsipas lost to Nadal in the group stage but beat Thiem in the final to win the competition last year, though the Austrian will hope to go one better after making his major breakthrough by going all the way at the US Open.

Like Schwartzman, Rublev is competing at the tournament for the first time.

The ATP Finals, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary, is scheduled to begin on Sunday.

Rafael Nadal insists he will never stop trying to improve his game in a stark warning to Paris Masters quarter-final opponent Pablo Carreno Busta. 

A day on from beating Feliciano Lopez for his 1,000th ATP Tour-level victory, Nadal saw off Jordan Thompson in straight sets on Thursday.

The Spaniard lost just 12 points on his serve in his first meeting with world number 61 Thompson, who hauled down his racket after failing to win a set point in the second, which Nadal subsequently won on a tie-break.

Yet despite another impressive showing in Bercy, Nadal believes he still has work to do if he is to overcome compatriot Busta, who beat Norbert Gombos 7-5 6-2.

"I want to improve everything, always," the world number two said after his 6-1 7-6 (7-3) triumph. "But that's the work of every day, no? Try to fix the things that I think I can do it better, and hold the things that I am doing well, no?

"So I think I am not doing a lot of things bad. I just didn't play in indoors for a year almost, and is part of the process of course. I need to keep going. I think these kind of matches helps. Yesterday's match, today's, tomorrow is another opportunity.

"These matches are an important test for me to keep improving, so I really believe and hope that it's going to help me to improve. I think I'm playing well. I just think I need to win more matches on this surface.

"I need to be ready to play my best against an opponent that I know is playing well and with confidence. I hope to be ready to play my game and really read well, because that's what I'm going to need."

WAWRINKA AND ZVEREV BATTLE THROUGH

Nadal is into the Paris Masters quarters for an eighth time but the 34-year-old has only reached the final on one previous occasion, losing to David Nalbandian in 2007.

Should he overcome his compatriot Busta on Friday, one of Alexander Zverev or Stan Wawrinka await in the semi-finals.

Fourth-seeded Zverev needed three hours to overcome unseeded Adrian Mannarino 7-6 (13-11) 6-7 6-4, saving set points in each of the first two sets.

Zverev wasted a set point of his own in a tie-breaker as the German was taken all the way to a decider, which he won by breaking Mannarino in the ninth game.

Chasing a third title of the year, Zverev will now face Wawrinka in the last eight after the Swiss battled from behind to beat Andrey Rublev 1-6 6-4 6-3.

Rublev broke his opponent three times to take the first set inside 32 minutes, but Wawrinka held in the second to level up a match that went on past midnight local time.

World number eight Rublev had won 11 matches in a row but he struggled to cope with Wawrinka in the third set, losing serve in the first and ninth games to bring his participation to an end.

Andrey Rublev won the Vienna Open after a confident 6-4 6-4 victory over surprise contender Lorenzo Sonego to book his place at the ATP Finals in London.

The Russian wrapped up the win at the Wiener Stadthalle in an hour and 19 minutes on Sunday as he clinched his fifth ATP title of the season.

Unheralded Sonego, ranked at number 42 in the world, had reached the final in the wake of a shock quarter-final win over world number Novak Djokovic but could not repeat the feat against a clinical Rublev.

"This tournament is really special for me because my grandma was also Austrian, so I have Austrian blood," Rublev said during the trophy presentation.

Italian Sonego found no way past Rublev's serve as he failed to inflict a single break.

It ensured Rublev ended the tournament without once surrendering his serve in 38 games – becoming the first player to achieve the feat in an ATP tournament since Alex de Minaur reeled off 42 games at Atlanta in 2019.

Andrey Rublev has the chance to win his fifth ATP Tour title of the season on Sunday after Kevin Anderson retired hurt in their Vienna Open semi-final clash.  

Rublev was leading 6-4 6-1 when Anderson pulled out with a leg injury, which he had earlier led to a medical timeout for treatment. 

The Russian, who has won 18 of his past 19 matches, will take on Lorenzo Sonego in Sunday's final, the Italian following up his stunning quarter-final victory over Novak Djokovic with a 6-3 6-4 win over Dan Evans.  

Rublev is on the brink of qualifying for the season-ending ATP Finals in London next month, but the 23-year-old insists he is not setting any expectations and simply wants to continue with the relaxed approach that has served him so well in 2020.  

"I don't know why it's going so well," he said. "I have such an amazing team and such amazing friends around me that always support me. That's probably why I'm playing so well. 

"I came here thinking that I have nothing to lose. I have already played a really great season, so I came here to enjoy it, do my best, fight for every point and now here I am in the final.

"I want to keep thinking the same way and we'll see what's going to happen tomorrow."

Sonego, meanwhile, admits he can scarcely believe he made the final after initially losing in the final round of qualifying against Aljaz Bedene, only to get into the main draw once Diego Schwartzman. 

He becomes the first lucky loser to reach the Vienna Open final since Andreas Haider-Maurer in 2010.  

"It's amazing," Sonego said. "I started this tournament [by losing] in the qualifiers. It's not easy after losing my [qualifying] match to win four matches and now I got to the final. 

"I don't have any expectations. I go with confidence and I [will] try to do my best tomorrow."

Grigor Dimitrov ended third seed Stefanos Tsitsipas' Vienna Open hopes with a battling last-16 win on Thursday.

Tsitsipas, who took Novak Djokovic to five sets in the French Open semi-finals this month, had come from behind to beat Jan-Lennard Struff in his opener in Austria but was this time on the wrong end of a fightback.

The Greek edged the first set after a tie-break but failed to convert either of his break points in a 6-7 (5-7) 6-4 6-3 reverse.

It was Dimitrov who prevailed after two hours and 14 minutes for his first top-10 win of the season, securing a quarter-final against Dan Evans.

"It's never easy to come out of a situation like that," Dimitrov said. "I was focused, but he went for it.

"In the tie-break a few close calls here and there went his way. [There was] not much else I could have done, I felt. But I kept on believing and kept on doing the right things.

"I stayed in the match, which I think was the most important thing. He's such a great competitor. You always have to be ready. I was just focusing on the most simple things of the game."

The other seeds found life a little easier on Thursday, with Dominic Thiem and Andrey Rublev each through to face one another.

Reigning champion Thiem brushed aside Cristian Garin in straight sets, while Rublev was granted a walkover as Jannik Sinner succumbed to a foot injury early in their meeting.

Daniil Medvedev also advanced but needed three sets after dropping the first to Vasek Pospisil.

Djokovic was not in action, meanwhile, but learned the identity of his Friday quarter-final opponent as Lorenzo Sonego reached the last eight.

Andrey Rublev's quest for a third title since the US Open began in solid fashion as he comfortably saw off Norbert Gombos in straight sets on day one of the star-studded Vienna Open.

Fifth-seed Rublev, victorious in Hamburg and St Petersburg in recent weeks, was the highest-ranked player in action on Monday and never looked in any danger of being on the wrong end of an upset, coming through 6-3 6-2.

He broke Gombos in the second game of the match and did not have to save any break points in return across the entire contest.

Gombos dropped his serve again early in the second and that effectively doomed him, as Rublev – who is closing in one of the last two spots at the ATP Finals – cruised to victory. Casper Ruud or Jannik Sinner await in the last 16.

Gael Monfils' hopes of reaching the season-ending tournament took a hit, however, as injury forced him to bow out while 6-1 2-0 down to Pablo Carreno-Busta, who is also in with an outside chance of qualifying.

Eighth-seed Denis Shapovalov crashed out 6-4 7-5 to wildcard Jurij Rodionov, while Borna Coric beat Taylor Fritz 6-4 6-4. He will face either world number one Novak Djokovic or Filip Krajinovic.

Among the other big names competing in Austria are Stefanos Tsitsipas, Daniil Medvedev and Dominic Thiem.

Andrey Rublev earned an early birthday present as a 7-6 (7-5) 6-4 triumph over Borna Coric at the St Petersburg Open final ensured he will move to a career-high ranking on Monday.

The Russian earned a fourth ATP title of a fine 2020 season on home court and will be ranked eighth in the world when the new standings are released.

That will come just a day before Rublev, who climbed into the qualification spots for the ATP Finals with his victory against Denis Shapovalov in the semi-finals, turns 23.

It was certainly a hard-fought win for Rublev, now a six-time ATP singles champion, given he was 5-2 down in a first-set tie-breaker.

But five straight points caught Coric cold and the Croatian surrendered the only break of the match in game five of the second set to leave Rublev celebrating.

Andrey Rublev boosted his hopes of reaching the ATP Finals as he came from behind to defeat Denis Shapovalov, setting up a St Petersburg Open final with Borna Coric. 

Rublev trailed Denis Shapovalov by a set but fought back to prevail 4-6 6-3 6-4 and ensure there will be a home hope in the final. 

He saved five of six break points in the process of earning victory over the Canadian, the win moving Rublev ahead of Diego Schwartzman into eighth place in the battle to qualify for the season-ending tournament in London. 

His opponent will be 2019 finalist Coric, who will be looking to go one better than last year after he staged a turnaround of his own. 

Coric, beaten by Daniil Medvedev in his previous appearance in the final, saw off Milos Raonic 1-6 6-1 6-4.

Alexander Zverev progressed to his second final since the resumption of the ATP Tour at the Cologne Indoors. 

Zverev overcame Alejandro Davidovich Fokina 7-5 7-6 (7-3) but was full of praise for the NextGen ATP Finals contender. 

"He played much better tennis and I think he's somebody who is going to go up the [FedEx ATP] Rankings very quickly," Zverev said. 

"For me he's a great guy as well. He's very talented, extremely good with the hands. I think he's somebody who's going to find his way up and it's going to be interesting to see what the future weeks [hold for him] this year and next year as well." 

The German will meet Felix Auger-Aliassime, who recorded a 6-3 1-6 6-3 triumph over Roberto Bautista Agut. 

At the Sardegna Open, Marco Cecchinato routed Danilo Petrovic 6-1 6-0 and will face Laslo Djere in the final after Lorenzo Musetti retired in the third set with a right elbow injury. Djere was leading 2-6 6-2 4-1. 

ATP Finals hopefuls Andrey Rublev and Denis Shapovalov will meet in the semi-finals of the St Petersburg Open after claiming straight-sets victories on Friday. 

Rublev holds the final automatic qualification spot for the season-ending tournament in London next month following a 6-2 6-1 win over Cameron Norrie. 

The third seed was a cut above Brit Norrie, improving his record to 32 victories and just seven defeats this year, which has included three titles. 

Shapovalov, meanwhile, beat Stan Wawrinka 6-4 7-5 in a battle between youth and experience, the 21-year-old Canadian winning 84 per cent of his first-service points. 

Milos Raonic defeated fellow seed Karen Khachanov 6-1 7-6 (7-1) and will face Borna Coric in the other semi-final, the Croatian having ousted Reilly Opelka in straight sets.

Top seed Alexander Zverev moved into the last four of the Cologne Indoors on home soil, beating South African qualifier Lloyd Harris 6-4 3-6 6-0. 

Zverev will come up against Alejandro Davidovich Fokina in his third semi-final of the year after the unseeded Spaniard got past Dennis Novak 6-3 2-6 6-3. 

Roberto Bautista Agut and Felix Auger-Aliassime will do battle for a place in the final following wins over Hubert Hurkacz and Radu Albot respectively. 

Marco Cecchinato and Lorenzo Musetti will be hoping to contest an all-Italian Sardegna Open in their homeland after advancing to the last four on Friday, along with Serbian duo Laslo Djere and Danilo Petrovic.

 

A furious Daniil Medvedev suffered his fourth defeat in five matches as he crashed out of the St Petersburg Open to Reilly Opelka in his homeland on Thursday.

The top seed had ended a dismal losing streak with victory over Richard Gasquet in the first round and looked to be on course to advance again when he took the first set against Opelka.

But the 6ft 11in American responded to prevail 2-6 7-5 6-4 after successfully defending four Medvedev break points in the third set.

The world number six, who reached the US Open semi-finals before embarking on this desperate run, is the biggest scalp of Opelka's career.

"It is always a tough match, playing one of the best players in the world in general but especially at home," the victor said. "[It is] a great win for me.

"It was ugly for the first set and a half. I felt like I barely won any points on his serve, but part of that is just because of my opponent. Daniil is an absolute nightmare to play."

Medvedev smashed his racket into the court at the end of another frustrating contest.

Russia's other big names will at least fly the flag, as Andrey Rublev and Karen Khachanov progressed.

Rublev's comeback win over Ugo Humbert was a big one for the third seed, who is closing on a place in the ATP Finals. Canada's Denis Shapovalov is also in the running and remains in the hunt for the title this week.

Alexander Zverev eased through at the Cologne Indoors, beating Fernando Verdasco in straight sets, but Marin Cilic exited at the hands of Alejandro Davidovich Fokina.

Cilic led by a set and a break, then had two opportunities to break back in front at 5-5 in the second, before losing 3-6 7-6 (7-3) 6-2.

At the Sardegna Open, Casper Ruud was the victim of the day's biggest upset.

The third seed's prior five defeats since the ATP Tour returned in August had come against top-20 players, but he went down 6-2 6-1 to 101st-ranked Yannick Hanfmann.

Andy Murray suffered another disappointing defeat as he lost to Fernando Verdasco in the first round of the Cologne Indoors tournament.

A 6-4 6-4 loss came against a player he once led 13-1 in their career head-to-head, a gap which has now closed to 13-4 after a hat-trick of wins for Spanish left-hander Verdasco.

Following victories for Verdasco at the US Open and Shenzhen Open in 2018, the Madrid man again got the better of the two-time Wimbledon champion, beating the Scot on an indoor hard court for the first time after five previous defeats.

It was a tough draw for Murray, who also struck unlucky at the French Open last month when he was paired with former champion Stan Wawrinka in the first round and also lost in straight sets.

The former world number one had entered the Cologne event, a low-level ATP 250 tournament, in the hope of building up match practice and registering the wins he needs to improve his ranking, which stands at 115 after his battle with injury in recent seasons.

Marin Cilic and Gilles Simon won through to the second round earlier in the day at the German event.

At the St Petersburg Open, Belarusian qualifier Ilya Ivashka survived an on-court meltdown to beat French player Adrian Mannarino 6-3 7-6 (8-6) in the first round.

Trailing 3-2 in the second set, Ivashka insisted on taking a toilet break and was penalised a game on his return to court, for delaying the match.

Ivashka explained to the chair umpire he had asked for a medical timeout because he "wasn't able to stand on court", only to be told such a break could not be used for a toilet trip.

The red mist descended as a seething Ivashka shouted: "That is not possible. It is not possible."

The punishment meant the 26-year-old fell 4-2 behind in the set, but he managed to turn around the situation to progress to the last-16 stage, where Denis Shapovalov or Viktor Troicki will await.

At the same tournament, Russian Andrey Rublev began his first week as a top-10 player by scoring a comfortable 6-2 6-4 win over Canadian Vasek Pospisil.

Milos Raonic, who skipped the French Open where Rublev reached the quarter-finals, fired 21 aces in a 7-6 (7-5) 6-1 win against JJ Wolf.

In Italy, home player Lorenzo Sonego followed up his run to the fourth round of the French Open with a 6-2 7-6 (7-4) opening win over 18-year-old compatriot Giulio Zeppieri at the Sardegna Open.

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