Tsitsipas believes Grand Slam win just around the corner

Newly crowned ATP Finals champion Stefanos Tsitsipas is confident he can add a Grand Slam title to his trophy cabinet in 2020.

The 21-year-old was the Next Gen Finals champion last year, and became the youngest player to life the coveted end-of-year trophy since Lleyton Hewitt in 2001, and the youngest debutant to win to since John McEnroe in 1978.

However, he knows that he, and the other up-and-coming stars who dominated the week at the O2, can only lay claim to ushering in a new era on the ATP Tour once they have broken the stranglehold Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer, and Novak Djokovic hold on the Grand Slams.

Nadal and Djokovic have shared the slams between them this season, with each winning two. Tsitsipas, though, believes he belongs in that kind of company, and thinks is close to proving it.

“It’s been a rollercoaster,” Tsitsipas said of his ATP Finals. “It’s a dream come true and the best way to end this match.

“My fighting spirit and me constantly trying to push myself to do better got me there in the end.

“Things were great this year and I beat some top-ranked players which gave me confidence, and I’ve won matches in grand slams and Masters 1000s. I think I can do well in the slams.

“I feel like my game is getting better over time, and I believe I’m really close on being crowned a grand slam champion.

“I know these are strong words that I say, but I do feel like I belong there.”

Thiem reflects on unbelievable ATP Finals

Dominic Thiem is struggling to swallow his narrow loss to Stefanos Tsitsipas in the ATP season finale but thoroughly enjoyed the contest nonetheless.

Tsitsipas took the trophy and the coveted title in a three-set thriller in London, despite Thiem winning the first set.

Thiem will finish the year as world number four, but was understandably heartbroken by the defeat.

“It was an unbelievable match today. Bravo, Stefanos,” Thiem said.

“We are, mental-wise, playing the most brutal sport existing, it was so close. Both were fighting 100% to the end. That’s how it is in tennis.

“That’s why it’s probably mentally the most brutal sport existing because you can play such a great match and end up losing in the championship match.

“From that point of view, it’s a very disappointing loss, very hard to digest.

“But I had some amazing wins also, even this week, that got me in this situation even to play at the Finals. So it’s fine.”

Tsitsipas and Thiem are great friends off the court, with the Greek even acting as a hitting partner for the Thiem at the ATP Finals three years ago.

“You really deserve it,” Thiem told Tsitsipas. “You’re an amazing player and I really hope we’re going to have some great finals in the future as well.

“I’m looking a forward a lot to it. Although it’s a very hard and tough moment, I still really enjoyed this week.”

Tsitsipas crowned ATP Finals champion

Stefanos Tsitsipas defeated Dominic Thiem to claim the season-ending glory at the O2 in London on Sunday.

The 21-year-old from Athens came from a set down to claim a stunning 6-7 (6) 6-2 7-6 (4) victory.

Tsitsipas is the youngest winner of the prestigious season-ending tournament since Lleyton Hewitt in 2001, and the youngest debutant to lift the trophy since John McEnroe back in 1978.

Tsisipas was the aggressor from the start, dropping just three points in his opening three service games while forcing the first break point, from which Thiem escaped with a swish of his forehand.

There were further chances to break for both players, Tsitsipas serving and volleying his way out of trouble and Thiem finding his first serve when he needed it.

A tie-break was required to separate them, and when the score reached 7-6 each player had won 44 points. But crucially, Thiem had the ball in his hand and an unreturnable first serve clinched the opening set.

Yet if that was tight, the second was a walkover as Tsitsipas broke twice, raced into a 4-0 lead and confidently served it out.

The first set had taken over an hour, the second lasted 26 minutes in a blur of shaggy hair and flamboyant shot-making, and all Thiem’s good work had unravelled.

When Thiem netted a backhand Tsitsipas had an early break in the decider, but the Greek began bearing gifts and three wayward backhands allowed Thiem to draw level.

The powerful one-handed backhands were out in force from both players in the tie-break, but it was a horrible, wafted forehand from Thiem which handed Tsitsipas the initiative, and a memorable victory was wrapped up in two hours and 34 minutes.

Tsitsipas said: “I was playing with nerves, it’s such a big event.

“I was a break up in the third set, but couldn’t hold it, but I’m so relieved with this outstanding performance I gave on the court.

“It’s phenomenal, unbelievable to have such an army behind me, they give me energy, and belief, and I just love that.

“I would like to thank everyone who supported me with a Greek flags and made me feel at home.”

Tsitsipas dumps Federer out of ATP Finals

Stefanos Tsitsipas continued his superlative run when he defeated tennis legend Roger Federer in straight sets at the O2 in London.

Djokovic and Nadal failed to make it out of the round robin stage, while Federer fell to debutant Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-3, 6-4 in the first semi on Saturday.

Tsitsipas said: “I’m so proud of myself today, it was a great performance.

“Sometimes in matches like these you wonder how you recover from difficulties and break point down.

“It is a mental struggle and I’m proud how many I saved today, I was trying not to give Roger an easy time.

“He was an inspiration as always. Playing him is the biggest honour I can have and today’s victory is probably one of my best moments of the season.”

Tsitsipas will face Dominic Thiem after the Austrian beat defending champion Alexander Zverev.

A break of serve in each set saw Thiem, 26, through 7-5 6-3 in an hour and 34 minutes.

“It is unreal to me and to beat the defending champion, a very good friend and unbelievable player – it is an unbelievable achievement. I’m very, very happy.”

Murray eager to test his mettle

Andy Murray is eager to see how he fares against the ATP Tour's rising stars Stefanos Tsitsipas, Daniil Medvedev and Alexander Zverev in 2020.

Three-time Grand Slam winner Murray has missed the bulk of the 2017, 2018 and 2019 campaigns due to his long-standing hip problem.

His injury woes seem to be behind him, though, after undergoing hip resurfacing surgery at the start of this year.

After finishing the 2019 season with the European Open – his first ATP Tour singles title since March 2017 – Murray has high hopes of competing with the best again next year.

And while the likes of Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic are still the men to beat, younger players like Stefanos Tsitsipas, Daniil Medvedev and Alexander Zverev are now also putting their hands up.

Murray is yet to play a match against Tsitsipas while he has faced Medvedev and Zverev once each.

“I don’t know a lot of the players and I didn’t watch a lot of the tennis when I was out injured,” he told CNN in an interview.

“Many of the guys I’m competing against now I’ve never played against and I’ve not practiced against because a lot’s changed in the two years since I got hurt. Obviously, you’ve got the top guys, Roger, Rafa and Novak have stayed there, but a lot more of the younger guys have come through.

“They all play really well. A lot of them have got very different game styles. If you look at the way Tsitsipas plays compared to Medvedev, compared to Zverev, they’re all very different. It will be fun to get the chance to play against them and see what it’s like.”

Zverev marches in final four in London

Alexander Zverev won a nail-biter of a match against Danill Medvedev to reach the final four of the ATP Finals at the 02 in London.

It was a must-win match for the defending champion against the Russian, but he passed the test with flying colours as he won 6-4, 7-6 (7-4).

Zverev broke in the first game of the match to ease to a one-set lead and after going down an early mini break in the second-set tie-breaker he bounced back to win in straight sets.

“The O2 is the most special arena for me. It’s where I play my best tennis,” he said. “The atmosphere here is something we don’t play in anywhere else in the world. It’s so special to us.

“I’ve still got to improve. We’re in the semi-finals now and it doesn’t get any easier from here. I’m going to have to play my best tennis to have a chance.”

Next up is Dominic Thiem, who finished top in Group Bjorn Borg.

“[Thiem] has been playing some unbelievable tennis, maybe the best tennis that we have ever seen from him. Actually beating Roger [Federer] and Novak [Djokovic] on this court is very special. Doing it back-to-back is very, very difficult,” the German said.

Nadal 'super happy' after securing fifth No 1 trophy

Rafael Nadal admits he he never thought he would get his hands on the World No 1 trophy again, after being confirmed as top of the pile for a fifth time.

It was a bittersweet day for Nadal at ATP Finals on Friday as he first beat Stefanos Tsitsipas in his final Group Andre Agassi match, keeping his hopes of reaching the semi-finals alive.

After his 6-7 (4-7), 6-4, 7-5 victory over the Greek, he was awarded the season-ending No 1 trophy, but the night ended on a sad moment as Alexander Zverev's win over Daniil Medvedev ended his semi-final chances.

However, for Nadal finishing the year as the No 1 – a fifth time that he has done so – is a great achievement.

"I am super happy," the 19-time Grand Slam winner said. "Honestly, after all the things that I went through in my career, in terms of injury, I never thought that at the age of 33 and a half, I would have this trophy in my hands again.

"So it's something really, really emotional for me. A lot of work [goes on] in the shadows to be where we are today. And without all my family, who are here next to me, this would be impossible. I just want to say thank you very, very much everyone for the support.

"To all the fans and to all the ATP staff, we have a great Tour. All the workers make us feel great every single week, all around the world, so many thanks to all the people who work for the ATP and make the players and the fans enjoy a great Tour."

He added: "This trophy is an achievement for all year round, so personally today I can't thank you all enough for all the support for this match [today] and all the time I have been playing here in London.

"I would like to thank, because it's something I really feel from the bottom of my heart, all the fans, all around the world, who give me the support every single week that I am playing."

Rafael Nadal to finish 2019 in top spot

Rafael Nadal took one step closer towards matching Pete Sampras' record, having been confirmed as the world No 1 for 2019 following Novak Djokovic's defeat to Roger Federer at the ATP Finals.

Having returned to the top of the ATP Rankings at the start of November, 19-times Grand Slam winner Nadal headed into the season-ending tournament at The O2 Arena with a 640-point lead over Djokovic.

With 200 points on offer for a round-robin match win, 400 for a semi-final victory and 500 for a final win, Djokovic was still very much in the running for the year-end No 1 ranking.

However, the Serb's hopes were dashed on Thursday as he was beaten 6-4, 6-3 by Roger Federer in his final match in Group Bjorn Borg, and he not only can no longer catch Nadal, but he also exited the tournament as it was his second defeat.

Djokovic admitted after the defeat that the No 1 ranking was a "big motivation".

"Well, look, you know, it was on the line. Of course that was a big motivation also for the end of the season, but, yeah, I mean, every time you step on the court, you know there is something on the line, I mean, at least on the highest level in tennis," he said.

"So, you know, I feel pressure and excitement all the time, every single match, especially if I play against the best players in the world."

The result means Nadal, who won the French Open for a 12th time and was also victorious at the US Open, will finish the year as the world No 1 for a fifth time in his career.

The 33-year-old also finished top of the rankings in 2008, 2010, 2013 and 2017.

He is now level with Jimmy Connors, Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic on five season-ending No 1 rankings, one behind Pete Sampras' record six.

"Rafa has had another incredible season and fully deserves this accolade for a remarkable fifth time in his career," ATP Executive Chairman and President Chris Kermode told the official ATP website.

"Since the inception of the ATP Rankings in 1973, only 17 players can lay claim to finishing year-end No 1 – it's unquestionably one of the toughest achievements in all sport. On behalf of ATP, many congratulations to Rafa and his team."

Djokovic 'gets too hard a time sometimes'

Tennis pundits Annabel Croft and Greg Rusedski have come out in support of Novak Djokovic after seeing the O2 Arena crowd cheer his mistakes against fan favourite Roger Federer at the ATP Finals.

The duo squared off in their final round-robin match on Thursday, with the winner assured of a place in the semi-finals.

Federer came out on top of the 6-4, 6-3 result and the defeat also ended Djokovic's hopes of pipping Rafael Nadal to the year-end world No 1 ranking.

The Swiss has always been a crowd favourite and it was no different at The O2, but fans took things too far as they applauded some of Djokovic's mistakes.

When asked about the crowd reactions during his post-match press conference, Djokovic played it down.

"I mean, look, it was an important match, and I think every time I face Roger or Rafa anywhere in the world, it's a lot of excitement," he said.

"So it was a full stadium, which was nice to see. It was loud. It was electric. You know, it was a good atmosphere."

However, Croft was far from impressed.

"I felt sad for Novak. Here is a great, great champion. Someone who has achieved so much in the game," she is quoted as saying by Metro.co.uk.

"What does he have to do to get a crowd on his side? He was playing some beautiful tennis and it was just met by polite applause.

"Some of his double faults were being clapped and cheered. It looked to me like he became very subdued and went into his shell after that.

"He couldn't fire himself up. I did feel a tinge of sadness for him because he looked a little lost out here and it can't be easy when you're taking on 20,000 people."

Rusedski also criticised the fans.

"I think it's disrespectful when you're clapping double faults. That's too much," he said.

"I don't mind fans supporting one guy over the other – that's your choice – but there's a certain etiquette you have to have out there.

"That really got into Djokovic's head because he double faulted, some of the crowd applauded and he double faulted again. Then he got broken and from that point on he was always behind in the match.

"He never recovered. He gets too hard a time sometimes."

Federer bounces back against Djokovic at ATP Finals

Roger Federer ended his losing streak against Novak Djokovic with a straight set win at the ATP Finals on Thursday night.

The duo met in their final round-robin match at The O2 and Federer produced a pretty clinical performance as he beat the world No 2 6-4, 6-3.

Federer, who came into the match on the back of five consecutive defeats to Djokovic, broke in game three of the first set and then in games five and nine of the second set.

When they met in the Wimbledon final in July, the Swiss squandered a couple of match points and Djokovic went on to win The Championships in five epic sets.

When asked if he got rid of some demons with the win, Federer replied: “[The ghosts] were never really there. There [were] some press guys that made that up.

So from my standpoint, I also didn’t know I hadn’t beaten him in a few years, actually. Didn’t feel that way because it was so close in Paris [2018] and in Wimbledon against himd.

“I felt like I was going to have my chance, to be quite honest… I’m just happy at the level I could play today, and obviously it’s always special beating Novak, even more so [because] of what happened. But I didn’t feel like I had to get rid of the ghosts or anything like that. I feel like I moved on pretty quickly after that.”

He added: “Just a night I enjoyed from the beginning. I played incredible, and I knew I had to because that’s what Novak does and I was able to produce. So it was definitely magical.”

ATP claims Zverev not guilty of looking at phone

Alexander Zverev was clearly scoping out something in his bag during his ATP Finals clash, but the ATP has confirmed it was not a phone.

The world No 7 and defending champion went down 6-3, 6-2 against Stefanos Tsitsipas in his second round-robin clash at London’s O2 Arena on Wednesday.

However, during a changeover in the second set he looked at something in his bag and several on social media claimed it was a phone.

After the match he was asked if it was a phone and replied: “My phone was in the locker room. I always leave it there. I don’t know what they saw, but it was definitely not a phone.”

Asked what he was touching, he said: “I mean, a water bottle? Empty water bottle maybe?”

The German has since been cleared of any wrongdoing by the ATP.

“The ATP can confirm that there has been no breach of ATP rules concerning Alexander Zverev,” they said in a short statement.

Tsitsipas overcomes Zverev to reach ATP Finals final four

Stefanos Tstitspas defeated Alexander Zverev in straight sets at the O2 in London.

The duo squared off in Group Andre Agassi at the ATP Finals and it was debutant Tsitsipas who got the better of the defending champion.

The Greek dominated proceedings as he broke once in the first set and twice in the second to secure a 6-3, 6-2 victory, which earned him a place in the semi-finals.

It was a clinical display from the 21-year-old, who is the first Greek to reach the season-ending tournament.

“I can say I’m surprised by my performance today,” he said. “I did everything right and once again it was not just me but a whole bunch of excited people came to support me. It was a crew situation.

“I’m just playing my game. I have a clear picture, a clear mindset on court. I’ve been mixing my game a lot, trying to be unpredictable. I think my serve has improved tremendously over the last couple of months.”

Tsitsipas and Zverev have had their moments this year and made it clear they are not friends away from the court, but the former had nothing but good things to say about the German after the match.

“I always find an extra motivation, an extra reason to play well against the top guys. I consider Sascha also being of this part of this elite group,” he said. “He has done very well over the years. He has, in a way, inspired me to step it up and be part of the top 10. So in a way I actually owe him a lot. He plays good tennis. Also playing Rafa [Nadal], Roger [Federer], Novak [Djokovic], Andy [Murray] — I haven’t played Andy, but I think there is plenty to learn from them.

“You have been watching them on TV. You have always wanted to be part of that. So for you, when you step out on the court… it’s a visual. When you see something that you have been dreaming of, I think there is always a spark, kind of an extra reason to play.”

Nadal keeps ATP Finals hopes alive with miracle win

Rafael Nadal saved a match point and came back from 5-1 down in the final set to to defeat Daniil Medvedev at the ATP Finals.

Having lost his opening match against defending champion Alexander Zverev, Nadal was under pressure to get a win under his belt.

And for long periods in the decider it looked like he would suffer back-to-back defeats as Medvedev built what looked like an unassailable lead as he was one game away from winning the match.

However, the world No 1 stormed back to claim an incredible 6-7 (3-7), 6-3, 7-6 (7-4) victory in two hours and 48 minutes.

After no breaks of serve in the first set, Medvedev edged the tie-breaker before Nadal hit back in the second set by breaking in games one and nine.

The Russian dominated the decider early on as he broke twice to lead 4-0 and then squandered two more break points in game five for a 5-0 lead.

Nadal eventually got on the scoreboard and Medvedev won his next service game before the match turned on its head as the Spaniard won five games in a row.

“I’ve been super lucky,” the 19-time Grand Slam winner said. “Sorry for Daniil. It’s a tough loss. He was playing much better than me in the third set. It’s one of these days, one out of 1,000, where you win.

“I know from my personal experience how tough it is to close out matches, especially when you have two breaks in front and you lose the first one. [At 3-5], I thought I had a chance. I think I was a little bit better in the end. In general terms, I think I was playing much better than two days ago, so that’s a very positive thing for me.”

He added: “Daniil is super tough mentally. He showed everybody during all this year what he achieved. If you are not able to be very solid mentally, it’s impossible, honestly.”

Murray on juggling parenting and tennis

Andy Murray becoming a father will understandably effect his training schedule and his, ahem, waist line.

Murray and wife Kim recently added their first child, and first son, to the family and, as you’d expect, it is something that will affect decisions moving forward.

“It’s something that you’re going to have to factor in when looking in for scheduling and planning,” the three-time grand slam champion said.

“But also my off-season – how much time to spend away from home there too. It’s definitely something that I’m a lot more aware of and which I’ll be factoring in to any decisions.

“I think short haul definitely in and around Europe occasionally they could come and watch but also my daughter’s at school now and she’s really happy there.

“I don’t think it’s fair to start pulling her around everywhere when she’s happy and settled. It’ll come from time to time in Europe.”

Murray has also received a taste of what life could look like after tennis for him, and he worries he may actually like it too much!

“I didn’t do anything for 12 days, literally nothing,” Murray, who has launched the AMC clothing range with sportswear brand Castore, said.

“I got up to my heaviest weight in my career probably. My elbow was pretty sore afterwards so I needed to take a break because of that.

“The baby came five or six days after we got back from Antwerp.

“It was evenings that were the issue. When the newborn has been going to bed at seven sleeping for a three-hour period my wife would sleep upstairs and get a period of good sleep in before the baby would wake up.

“I’d be on my own downstairs with chocolate biscuits and stuff. There was Halloween and second daughter’s birthday party, then also my sister-in-law had a birthday so there was lots of cake and junk and no training is not a good combination. I was 88.5 kilos and I’m usually 84.”

Being overweight, Murray could not avoid his mind drifting to two-time coach Ivan Lendl and the Scot found it even harder to resist a jibe at the Czech’s current body shape.

“He’ll probably kill me for saying this but I always said I don’t want to end up with what happened to Ivan,” Murray joked. “I know if you put that in your papers I’ll get a message from him tomorrow.

“When he was playing he was in great shape and very thin. And when he stopped things went south so I need to avoid that.”

Teriffic Thiem blasts past Djokovic

Dominic Thiem seems to finally be coming of age on the hard court as he defeated Novak Djokovic to book his place in the ATP Finals final four.

Roger Federer beat Italian eighth seed Matteo Berrettini 7-6 (2) 6-3 to keep his hopes of reaching the semi-finals alive.

And Thiem won a late-night classic against Djokovic to book his place among the last four for the first time in his career.

It means only the winner of Thursday’s match between Djokovic and Federer, who have 11 ATP Finals titles between them, will still be in London over the weekend.

Austrian Thiem, ranked fifth in the world, lost the first set on a tie-break but conjured up arguably some of the finest tennis of his career to level the match and go a break up in the decider.

In a thrilling final set Djokovic broke back, yet Thiem served for the match at 6-5 only for the world number two to force another tie-break.

Thiem held his nerve to win one of the best O2 matches in many a year, 6-7 (5) 6-3 7-6 (5).

Thiem said: “This was really one of those special matches that I practised all my life for, beating a legend of our game and qualifying for the semi-finals.”

The group-stage match between Federer and Djokovic was already hotly-anticipated, with it being their first meeting since July’s dramatic Wimbledon final. Now it takes on huge significance.

Djokovic is still jousting with Rafael Nadal to end the year top of the rankings while he is attempting to draw level on six ATP Finals wins with Federer, who is looking to reach the semi-finals for a 16th time in 17 appearances.

Djokovic branded Thiem’s performance “phenomenal”: “It’s a round-robin system, so I’m still in the tournament.

“Head-to-head with Roger. Winner goes to semis. Loser doesn’t qualify. As simple as that.”

Federer over Djokovic defeat at Wimbledon

Roger Federer says he is not mentally scarred by his Wimbledon final defeat to Novak Djokovic as the pair prepare for another do-or-die shootout in London.

Djokovic won the 2019 Wimbledon final in truly heartbreaking circumstances for Federer earlier this summer in what many consider the greatest final of all time.

They will renew that rivalry on Thursday at the ATP Finals, with the loser certain to be knocked out of the competition after Djokovic’s defeat to Dominic Thiem.

When Federer was asked if he is over the defeat at Wimbledon, he said: “We’ll find out, but I think it’s all flushed away from my side. A lot of water has gone under the bridge since then.

“We have played a lot of matches since, and I think we both look back at a great match.

“I think we both can take away some confidence from the match – him obviously a lot, me maybe a bit less.

“But at the end of the day, I don’t know, I wasn’t hoping he would not be in my section or in my draw. I didn’t hope I was never going to play him again.

“Actually, it’s good for me to play him again, and maybe that all helps to get a chance to get him back or whatever it is.

“But at the end of the day, I’m here for the World Tour Finals and not because of the Wimbledon final.

“It’s logical to be asked, it’s fine, but I’m personally excited to play against Novak on Thursday.”

Zverev reveals the key to his victory over Nadal

Alexander Zverev has explained how he got the better of Rafael Nadal at the ATP Finals, saying the "whole thing was about the serve".

Zverev beat the world number one 6-2, 6-4, with Nadal openly admitting after the match that the German was simply the better player on the day.

And Zverev, the defending champion, was very aware of the quality he produced too.

"This means so much, playing here again after winning my biggest title so far in my career here last year. This means everything to me," Zverev said on-court.

"The atmosphere is the reason why everybody is trying, the goal of the beginning of the season is to make London.

"Because playing here, playing in The O2, is something that we don't have during the year, and this is so special."

Zverev was able to completely dominate Nadal in a way that very few others have been able to achieve in their careers. So how did he do it?

"The whole thing was about the serve," Zverev said.

"Obviously when I play this aggressive tennis, when I play this way, I have now beaten all three guys on this court, the big tree, so it shows that I can play very well and beat the top players."

Tsitsipas: Our chemistry definitely isn't the best

Stefanos Tsitsipas insists that while he doesn't have "the best" chemistry with Daniil Medvedev, he does not "hate" the Russian.

The duo met at the ATP Finals on Monday with Tsitsipas getting his first-ever career win over the Russian.

Tsitsipas once branded Medvedev a 'boring bull**** Russian, claiming his play-style is dull to watch and even duller to play against.

"[I] got pissed and said what I said, which I do regret, but at the time I was very frustrated that things happened this way," Tsitsipas told reporters.

"I completely forgot about the past. I mean, our chemistry definitely isn't the best that you can find on the tour.

"It just happens with people that it's not that you can just like everyone.

"It's not that I hate him. As he said, we will not go to dinner together."

Tsitsipas was clearly relieved to get his first career win over Medvedev, but he believes it was just a matter of time.

"I learned from my previous mistakes in Shanghai," Tsitsipas added after his 7-6 (7-5), 6-4 win in London.

"I remember coming out of my match in Shanghai against him and saying to my coach that things are going to be different next time. And they did prove to be different."

"It's a victory that I craved for a long time now, and it's great that I came in at this moment.

"I respect him, for sure. He's a grand slam finalist, so that takes a lot of respect from me to him."

'The only excuse is I was not good enough' - Nadal

Rafael Nadal insists his ATP Finals defeat to Alexander Zverev was not because of injury, saying it was simply down to him failing to produce a good performance.

The world number one was forced to withdraw from the Paris Masters earlier this month with an abdominal issue, and left it as late as possible before committing to the O2 showpiece.

His campaign got off to a rocky start though, as he lost in straight sets to an inspired Zverev - ad Nadal was not wanting to take anything away from the German.

"It was not a problem with the abdominal (injury) at all," Nadal told reporters in his press conference. "I did not feel pain.

"No, just Sascha, well played, and me, bad played, honestly. We can find reasons or excuses, but at the end of the day, what all really matters is I need to play much better in two days.

"We knew that it was going to be tough at the beginning because the period of time since the injury until today is very short, but we are here trying, and that's it.

"I was happy with the way that the abdominal held, and hopefully I can continue like this, because it's true that I was not able to create a lot of practice and a lot of effort on that part of the body since last Saturday.

"So is a positive thing that I played the whole match today. Hopefully I can keep going, and hopefully I can practice a little bit more tomorrow.

"The only excuse is I was not good enough tonight."

ATP Finals: Federer eager to overcome first round "hiccup"

After an opening round loss against Dominic Theim, Roger Federer is under pressure at the ATP Finals in London.

The 38-year-old has struggled against Thiem in the past, and he found him a frustrating presence again at the O2, where he fell to a 7-5, 7-5 defeat on Sunday.

However, Federer has insisted that the defeat ultimately changes nothing for him.

“I thought the match was actually pretty even for a long period of time,” Federer said.

“I had my chances, I felt. I didn’t feel like I was outplayed or anything. Just maybe that first-round hiccup.

“It’s a normal tournament from here on forward. I’m not allowed to lose anymore.

“That’s how it is every week of the year for the last 20 years, so from that standpoint there is nothing new there.”

Austrian Thiem, who has five titles to his name this year, now holds a 5-2 win record over Federer.

The 26-year-old, who dumped his first match point into the net but converted at the second attempt, said: “It was a great performance, my first opening win here at the Finals.

“We had a good and close match, and it’s always special to beat Roger. You don’t get any presents from him.

“I’m very happy that I pulled through the last game.”