Competing in the ATP final for the tenth time in his career, Rafael Nadal claimed his 19th victory this Sunday over Andrey Rublev. The world No. 2 defeated the young Russian by 6-3, 6-4, in one hour and 17 minutes, rebounding from his Parisian loss to Alexander Zverev and getting off to a winning start in what will be the last edition of the ATP Finals in the city of London (heading for Turin in 2021).
It was the first clash between the two players since the 2017 US Open and the Spaniard had the upper hand, dropping just 12 points in ten service games and never facing a break point.
Aggressively returning Rublev’s serves, Rafa broke his opponent once in each set to claim the victory and add 200 points to his total. Dominating with his initial stroke, Nadal had 16 winners and 11 unforced errors, leaving the Russian with 19 winners and 23 fouls.
Hitting a winning serve in nearly 40% of all points from the initial hit, Rafa had a huge 44-28 advantage in the shortest rallies up to four strokes, and he performed well on the return from the second serve while still gaining two breaks which led him to gain the upper hand.
Nadal hit a winning serve in the opening game to make a promising start before Rublev responded in the same style, to put his name on the scoreboard. The Spaniard held it at 40-0 in the third game with another missed serve, followed by an ace from Andrey who tied the score at 2-2.
A winning forehand down the line secured another comfortable grip for the Spaniard in the fifth game, and he defended well in the next game on the return to win a break when the Russian pulverized a forehand error.
The gap is then 4-2. A winning serve sent Rafa 5-2 ahead after a deuce, before he served for the set at 5-3.
Rafael Nadal needed 77 minutes to beat Andrey Rublev in straight sets
World 2 Nadal hit three winners to close the first set in 36 minutes, which didn’t stop him from continuing to play well and hoping to do more in the second set.
With that momentum on his side, Nadal gave himself a break in the first game of the second set, winning another game after a deuce and a winning serve to move to 6-3, 2-0 ahead.
Andrey pulverized a forehand error in the fourth game to find himself 3-1 behind Rafa, then he won a game thanks to a forehand in the fifth game to stay in touch with his opponent of the day.
A winning serve sent Nadal 4-2 before Rublev scored a 40-0 to reduce the deficit. The Spaniard forced an error from his opponent in the eighth game which caused Rublev to have to serve well to stay in the game.
The youngster held on after deuce to extend his chances before Nadal scored at 40-15 with an unreturned serve, to seal the deal and secure a first victory in this 2020 Men’s Masters.