Alcaraz beaten on ATP Finals debut, Medvedev wins

Considering all that he's accomplished over the last two years — two grand slam titles and finishing last season as No.1 — Carlos Alcaraz no doubt belongs among the world's elite.

Still, this wouldn't have been the ATP Finals debut the Spaniard was hoping for at the season-ending event in Turin for the year's top eight players.

After missing the finals last year because of an abdominal injury, Alcaraz was beaten in his opening match on Monday by two-time champion Alexander Zverev 6-7 (3-7) 6-3 6-4.

Later in the red group, Daniil Medvedev began his campaign with a 92-minute 6-4 6-2 win over good friend and fellow Russian Andrey Rublev.

After losing third-set tiebreaks in each of his ATP Finals matches last season, Medvedev extended his lead for most tour-level wins (65) and most hard-court wins (48) this season and provided the perfect start in his bid to equal Novak Djokovic and Alcaraz on six tour-level titles on the year.

Djokovic and Jannik Sinner won their opening matches in the green group on Sunday.

Daniil Medvedev.
Russia's Daniil Medvedev swept past compatriot Andrey Rublev in their ATP Finals opener.

"I played great before the tournament and I managed to put it in the court now," Medvedev said of his winning start.

"I felt really good and was able to get the upper hand fast."

Zverev missed last year's edition after tearing ligaments in his right ankle in a French Open semi-final, but the big-serving German clearly likes the fast conditions inside the Pala Alpitour, where he claimed the title two years ago.

The 26-year-old served 16 aces to Alcaraz's 11, saved five of six break points, and never really let Alcaraz feel in control.

"I had a few break points that I couldn't take, and I think that was the key of the match," Alcaraz said.

Zverev added, "I served very well. That helped."

He overcame a scare late in the third set when he was chasing down a forehand from Alcaraz, lost his grip, slipped and fell to the court clutching his left ankle. But Zverev quickly shook it off and held in that game for a 4-2 lead.

Alexander Zverev.
Alexander Zverev takes the applause after beating Carlos Alcaraz at the ATP Finals.

Alcaraz's troubles related to adjusting to the court's speed.

"This surface is the fastest on the year, that's for sure," he said.

"I don't know why they put this kind of surface at the end of the year because all the tournaments that we have played on hard court is so, so slow. Then we come here to the Masters and they put this court so fast."

Zverev suggested a slight bit of altitude is a factor, with Turin at an elevation of 784 feet (239 metres).

Still, Alcaraz enjoyed the experience of the fancy lighting and and the tunnel leading out to the court.

"The best walk-out that I've ever done," the 20-year-old said.

"It was unbelievable experience for me to play my first match ... even if I lost."

Alcaraz can still hope to advance from the round-robin, with the top two finishers in each four-man group reaching the semis.

Making their own ATP Finals debut, Australian duo Rinky Hijikata and Jason Kubler were beaten 6-2 6-4 by Anglo-Dutch No.2 seeds Neal Skupski and Wesley Koolhof, the Wimbledon champions.

Australia's No.1 doubles player, Matthew Ebden, and his Indian partner Rohan Bopanna, were defeated as well, by Anglo-American pair Joe Salisbury and Rajeev Ram, 6-3 6-4.

With PA & Reuters.