Stefanos Tsitsipas and Andrey Rublev started their run in the Next Gen ATP Finals with a win over Jaume Munar and Taylor Fritz respectively.
Between the two players, it was Tsitsipas who had a comparatively easy match. The World No. 15 needed just a little less than two hours to dispatch his Spanish adversary with 3-1. The final score, at the end of the match, stood at 4-3(7), 4-3(7), 3-4(7), 4-2.
The tournament follows a different format than the traditional ATP tournaments. Every match is a best of five set and each set is determined by the first player to reach four games. Tie break is introduced at 3-3.
The reigning ATP Stockholm champion maintained a first serve win rate of 78% while breaking his opponent on two out of a possible eight occasions. With that win, the Greek now leads Group A table although, he will have to win his subsequent matches to retain that lead.
Rublev, on the other hand, was tested to the limits by his American opponent. The Russian was the runner-up in last year’s edition of ATP Next Gen Finals and this time, he appeared to be particularly determined to go the distance.
The 21-year-old, who has been seeded fifth for the tournament, needed exactly two hours to mark his first win in Milan this year. Even though he won the match 3-2, he had to fight back from two sets down.
Rublev won the first set 3-2 but Fritz fought back handsomely to take the second set 4-1. The American cemented that lead by taking the next set with 4-3(7).
Things got more interesting in the fourth set when it was taken to the tie break. On the back of two important points, the 2018 Citi Open semifinalist got a healthy lead and managed to win the tie-break. Thereafter, it was a smooth sailing for Rublev as he took the final set 4-2.
Even though the tournament does not give any ranking points towards the ATP Rankings, it serves as an important benchmark for the upcoming players. Last year, it was Hyeon Chung who won the Next Gen Finals after defeating Rublev 3-1.