World No. 2 Rafael Nadal was happy with the way he performed against Andrey Rublev in his opener at the Nitto ATP Finals but he acknowledged that he has got to stay locked in as he is set to face more tough opponents. Nadal, who is aiming to lift his maiden Nitto ATP Finals title at the age of 34, defeated world No.
8 Rublev 6-3 6-4 to make a winning start at The O2 Arena. "I was happy about the way I approached the match. I didn’t suffer much with my serve. It is only a start. I still have to face Dominic and Stefanos," Nadal said after beating Rublev, per Nikolaus Fink.
20-time Grand Slam champion Nadal plays next against world No. 3 Dominic Thiem, who beat defending Nitto ATP Finals champion Stefanos Tsitsipas in his opener at the tournament. "He is a great player and he improves every year.
He is one of the guys on the tour who deserves all the success. It is going to be a tough challenge. I hope that today‘s victory helps," Nadal said of Thiem ahead of their clash at the Nitto ATP Finals.
Nadal grateful to be able to play tennis
"The world is suffering so we are very lucky to be playing tennis.
Of course, it is a little bit more boring but we can’t complain at all. Thanks to life that we can keep doing our job and thanks to all the organisations. Nadal claimed the first break of the match in the sixth game, before he served out to love the ninth game when he was serving for the first set.
Nadal then broke Rublev in the first game of the second set and then routinely held on to his serve to book a straight-set win. "I was not serving good at all because I was a little bit nervous, which is normal," Rublev said, per the Nitto ATP Finals website.
"When he broke me in the second set I relaxed and I started to serve much better. Then [it] was [a] different game, but it was too late." Rublev hopes next time he will perform much better against Nadal. "Only my second time against Rafa & I have played Roger once before (never played Novak).
I have only played three times vs top three players so I don’t have much experience... the more I play against them the better I think I will perform," Rublev added, per Matthew Willis.