|Venue: O2 Area, London Date: 15-22 November|
|Protection: Watch stay on BBC Two, BBC iPlayer, BBC Sport web site and cell app; observe BBC radio and stay textual content commentary on-line on chosen matches|
Rafael Nadal started his bid for the most important title lacking from his huge assortment with an ATP Finals win over Russian debutant Andrey Rublev.
Spanish second seed Nadal, 34, gained 6-3 6-4 because the season-ending occasion started in London for the ultimate time.
Earlier on the opening day, third seed Dominic Thiem avenged his defeat by Greece’s Stefanos Tsitsipas in final yr’s ultimate with a three-set victory.
US Open champion Thiem gained 7-6 (7-5) 4-6 6-3 at an empty O2 Area.
Nadal’s straight-set success moved him above the Austrian on the high of Group London 2020 – named in tribute to the occasion’s fiftieth anniversary – after the opening matches.
Seeing off in-form Rublev – who has gained extra matches and extra titles than anybody else on the ATP Tour this yr – was the right begin for Nadal.
“I’m very happy with the victory, it modifications the angle of the event a bit bit,” mentioned Nadal, who misplaced within the 2010 and 2013 finals.
“I do know I’ve an excellent troublesome match towards Dominic however a win in two units helps for the boldness.”
Solely one of many left-hander’s 86 profession titles has come on an indoor onerous court docket, however he shifted up a gear from his shows in related situations at this month’s Paris Masters – the place he misplaced within the semi-finals – to frustrate Rublev.
Eighth seed Rublev struggled on serve within the first set – admitting it was an indication of nerves on his Finals debut – and was punished when Nadal earned the decisive break for a 4-2 lead, which he didn’t relinquish.
Rublev confirmed his annoyance at his efficiency by thumping his racquet towards the court docket and extra woe got here the 23-year-old’s method when Nadal broke within the opening recreation of the second set.
“When he broke me within the second set I began to chill out however by then it was too late,” Rublev mentioned.
From that time, it appeared virtually inevitable the 20-time Grand Slam champion would wrap up a straight-set win and duly did with out even dealing with a break level.
“My serve labored very well, that all the time helps on this floor and I had a couple of possibilities on the return, which I transformed,” added Nadal, who gained 81% of his service factors and transformed two of 5 break factors.
Similar gamers, completely different event as London begins an eerie farewell
When Tsitsipas and Thiem met in final yr’s ultimate, Tsitsipas celebrated successful the most important title of his profession with a big contingent of boisterous Greek followers inside an atmospheric O2 Area.
Twelve months on, the re-run of that memorable match couldn’t have been performed in additional contrasting circumstances.
No followers are allowed contained in the close to 18,000-seater area due to coronavirus restrictions, that means London can not bid farewell to the event as it could have wished earlier than it strikes to Turin, Italy, subsequent yr.
With out the spectators, there was an eerie environment as solely the gamers, officers, ball children and journalists have been allowed contained in the darkish area.
Requested what was the principle distinction for him between the 2 matches, Tsitsipas sighed and mentioned: “Folks within the stands.”
Initially, the shortage of environment didn’t dilute the extent of every participant’s depth in a decent opening set.
Each males discovered their rhythm from the beginning in robust service video games, resulting in a tie-break which Thiem nicked after preventing again from 5-3 down with 4 successive factors.
Sixth seed Tsitsipas had not earned a break level within the opener, however decisively took his probability within the third recreation of the second set and went on to stage the match.
Like their assembly 12 months in the past, it teed up one other deciding set however this time it was Thiem who took management.
The Austrian ramped up his stage to maneuver 3-0 in entrance and, after preventing off a break level and coming via six deuces to carry within the fifth recreation, sealed what could possibly be an important win to his hopes of reaching the semi-finals.
“You can not have any gradual begins right here,” mentioned Thiem, who hit 11 winners in a dominant third set.
“I’ve skilled prior to now 4 years how vital it’s to have a quick begin and I am pleased I did it.”
Djokovic celebrates matching Sampras’ primary file
Earlier than the opening singles match, Novak Djokovic was introduced with the trophy for ending because the year-end world primary on the ATP Tour.
The 33-year-old Serb has completed the yr because the top-ranked participant for a sixth time, equalling the file set by American nice Pete Sampras.
“It is extremely fulfilling and I’m proud. I’m overwhelmed with pleased feelings,” mentioned Djokovic on matching the feat of his childhood idol.
Djokovic’s largest victory of the yr got here when he gained his seventeenth Grand Slam on the Australian Open in January and he goes into the ATP Finals having misplaced simply three of his 42 matches in 2020.