TURIN, Italy (AP) — Strong serving and consistent baseline play propelled U.S. Open champion Daniil Medvedev to a 6-7 (5), 6-3, 6-4 win over first-time qualifier Hubert Hurkacz in the opening match of the ATP Finals on Sunday.
Medvedev, the defending champion at the year-end tournament for the top eight players, served 15 aces and didn’t face a single break point against the seventh-seeded Hurkacz, who beat him in five sets at Wimbledon this year.
Medvedev attributed his strong serving performance to conditions he called the fastest he’s ever experienced on tour.
“I don’t think it’s the surface itself because (the) surface probably is exactly the same as in London,” the Russian said, referring to the previous tournament host. “I think it’s a combination of air, which is really dry here, and I think the ball goes very fast through the air, the balls itself, which are quite fast balls, and the court.
“I was barely under pressure on my serve against a great returner,” Medvedev added. “And same for me, I had just two games where I had break points.”
The victory gave Medvedev an early advantage in the Red Group, which also features 2018 champion Alexander Zverev and local hope Matteo Berrettini of Italy, who play later in the first edition of the event in Turin — after 12 years in London.
In the Green Group of the round-robin format, top-ranked Novak Djokovic opens against eighth-seeded Casper Ruud on Monday, then fourth-seeded Stefanos Tsitsipas plays fifth-seeded Andrey Rublev.
With both players serving well inside the Pala Alpitour, neither Medvedev nor Hurkacz produced a break point in the first set, when Hurkacz’s strong net play proved the difference in the tiebreaker.
Medvedev responded with an early break in the second set then broke again in the first game of the third as he methodically wore Hurkacz down.
“Daniil is an amazing player and he plays great tennis for the whole match,” Hurkacz said. “He doesn’t have dips in his game, so that makes him such a tough opponent.”