After his victory on Monday, Andrey Rublev admitted that he had woken up from a daytime nap convinced that he had accidentally slept through his Nitto ATP Finals night match. Despite feeling ‘completely broken’, the Russian eventually shook off the grogginess to win emphatically against Stefanos Tsitsipas in Turin with the help of some powerful serving.
“It was the first time ever and I’m happy with everything I did today on court,” Rublev said of his impressive serving numbers. “From serve, return, rallies from the baseline to my mental part, how I controlled my emotions today. So we’ll see if I can keep going this way.”
He might not be sleeping so easily as he prepares for the next Green Group match at the Pala Alpitour, where he will meet World No. 1 Novak Djokovic for the first time.
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“He’s one of the greatest players in history, so I don’t know what to say,” Rublev said of playing Djokovic. “I hope I’m going to win a couple of games, but the reality is the only thing I can do is to do my best and believe in myself.”
Despite struggling with his form during the build-up to Turin, Rublev showed some of his best tennis of the year against Tsitsipas. The Russian’s serve shined during his opening performance; he didn’t face a break point across two sets and won 90 per cent (37/41) of points behind his first serve.
But he’ll have to be on from the start to contend with the Djokovic return, one of the best in the game. Rublev’s second serve was in trouble against Tsitsipas, but he got away with it by not giving the Greek too many looks at it. Expect Djokovic to hone in on any opportunities that Rublev allows him.
Earlier in the year, Rublev made a big statement when he took down Rafael Nadal on clay in Monte-Carlo. Two years ago, he defeated Roger Federer in their first meeting in Cincinnati. But will it be a tall task to take down another of the Big Three – especially at one of Djokovic’s most successful events?
Seven-time No. 1 in the year-end FedEx ATP Rankings and five-time Nitto ATP Finals champion Djokovic opened his Turin account with a comfortable win over Casper Ruud. It was his first meeting of the year against the surging Norwegian, and he needed a few games to settle into the match before clinching the match in straight sets.
“It was a really terrible start, but also funny because I’m still trying to figure out what happened,” Djokovic said. “Casper started strong. He was serving well… He did positively surprise me with this serve, particularly in the first set. I just managed to read it better in the second set. But it was a close one.”
— ATP Tour (@atptour) November 15, 2021
Djokovic and Rublev are level with one win apiece at the top of the Green Group, and a victory on Wednesday could see the winner in pole position to reach the semi-finals.
Eighth seed Ruud and fourth seed Tsitsipas will return to the Pala Alpitour for the night session match on Wednesday, with both players seeking their first win of the Nitto ATP Finals.
The 22-year-old Norwegian admitted that nerves played a factor in his opening defeat to Djokovic, and he’ll hope to arrive on court more settled against the 2019 champion.
“It’s not always easy, it’s the first match, I’m sure he was a bit nervous, I don’t know, but I was also a bit nervous and it’s the first time for me on this stage,” Ruud acknowledged. “It shows that it means something for you and it gets the adrenaline going. so I think it’s a positive for me even if it’s nicer not to feel nervous.”
— ATP Tour (@atptour) November 15, 2021
Ruud and Tsitsipas will take a 1-1 ATP Head2Head record into their third encounter of the year. Ruud defeated the Greek on the clay courts in Madrid, while Tsitsipas won on hard courts in Toronto.
In doubles, second seeds Rajeev Ram and Joe Salisbury need one more victory to put themselves in a qualifying position in the Green Group. The US Open champions will take on fellow group leaders Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut, the third-seeded Frenchmen – both teams have yet to drop a set in Turin.
Colombian fifth seeds Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah will also face Jamie Murray and Bruno Soares, the seventh seeds, as they seek their first group stage wins.
ORDER OF PLAY – WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 17, 2021
CENTRE COURT start 11:30 am
 J. S. Cabal (COL) / R. Farah (COL) vs  J. Murray (GBR) / B. Soares (BRA)
Not Before 2:00 pm
 N. Djokovic (SRB) vs  A. Rublev (RUS)
Not Before 6:30 pm
 R. Ram (USA) / J. Salisbury (GBR) vs  P-H. Herbert (FRA) /N. Mahut (FRA)
Not Before 9:00 pm
 S. Tsitsipas (GRE) vs  C. Ruud (NOR)
See below semi-final qualification scenarios in play on Tuesday, 16 November and Wednesday, 17 November for both groups at the Nitto ATP Finals.
Singles Green Group qualification scenarios after the completion of the 1st round of the event’s group stage:
– N. DJOKOVIC qualifies on Wednesday if:
– N. DJOKOVIC defeats A. RUBLEV and C. RUUD defeats S. TSITSIPAS.
– N. DJOKOVIC defeats A. RUBLEV in 2 sets and S. TSITSIPAS defeats C. RUUD in 3 sets.
A. RUBLEV qualifies on Wednesday if:
– A. RUBLEV defeats N. DJOKOVIC and S. TSITSIPAS defeats C. RUUD.
– A. RUBLEV defeats N. DJOKOVIC in 2 sets and C. RUUD defeats S. TSITSIPAS in 3 sets.
Singles Red Group qualification scenarios as of 5:30 p.m. local time Tuesday:
Following M. BERRETTINI’S withdrawal, D. MEDVEDEV has qualified for the semi-finals and won the group.
Doubles Red Group qualification scenarios after the completion of the 1st round of the event’s group stage:
R. RAM / J. SALISBURY qualify on Wednesday if:
– R. RAM / J. SALISBURY defeat P. HERBERT / N. MAHUT and J. MURRAY / B. SOARES defeat J. CABAL / R. FARAH.
– R. RAM / J. SALISBURY defeat P. HERBERT / N. MAHUT in 2 sets and J. CABAL / R. FARAH defeat J. MURRAY / B. SOARES in 3 sets.
P. HERBERT / N. MAHUT qualify on Wednesday if:
– P. HERBERT / N. MAHUT defeat R. RAM / J. SALISBURY and J. CABAL / R. FARAH defeat J. MURRAY / B. SOARES.
– P. HERBERT / N. MAHUT defeat R. RAM / J. SALISBURY in 2 sets and J. MURRAY / B. SOARES defeat J. CABAL / R. FARAH in 3 sets.