ATP Finals: Stefanos Tsitsipas beats Daniil Medvedev in London opener

2019 Nitto ATP Finals
Venue: O2 Arena, London Dates: 10-17 November
Coverage: Watch live coverage of one match per day on BBC TV, BBC iPlayer and online; Listen on BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra; Live text on selected matches on the BBC Sport website and app. Click here for Live Guide.

Sixth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas won his opening match at the ATP Finals by edging out fourth seed and fellow debutant Daniil Medvedev in London.

The Greek 21-year-old beat the Russian 7-6 (7-5) 6-4 at the O2 Arena.

There was just one break of serve in the match with Tsitsipas, the youngest player in the tournament, earning his first win over Medvedev – a player with whom he has a tense rivalry.

“It is one of the toughest and most important victories,” Tsitsipas said.

“It’s not easy coming in knowing you’ve lost five times before [to Medvedev] but this victory means a lot to me, this crowd means a lot to me.

“[There are] Greek flags everywhere – it almost feels like I’m playing in Athens.”

World number one Rafael Nadal plays defending champion Alexander Zverev later on Monday in the same group.

Novak Djokovic, who can overtake Nadal at the top of the world rankings this week, leads the other group after winning on Sunday.

The top two players in each group after the round-robin stage progress to the semi-finals on Saturday.

The men’s season-ending event, which is taking place in London for the penultimate year, features the top eight players of the year.

‘We won’t go for dinner together’ – Tsitsipas on Medvedev rivalry

Stefanos Tsitsipas
Tsitsipas has won two titles this year in Estoril and Marseille

Tsitsipas had lost all five of his previous meetings with US Open runner-up Medvedev and the pair have had a difficult relationship since a row over a net cord in Miami last year.

Tsitsipas then called the Russian’s playing style “boring” after a defeat at the Shanghai Masters last month.

The pair are two of the most highly-rated young players in the game – two of four singles players aged 24 or under at this year’s championships – but Tsitsipas was rewarded for being the more aggressive of the two players.

Asked whether beating Medvedev meant extra to him, the Greek said: “It means more than extra.

“It’s a victory that I’ve craved for a long time now and it’s great that it came in this moment.

“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. I guess, as he said, we will not go to dinner together.”

Medvedev and Tsitsipas
Medvedev has won more matches this year (59) than any other player

There were no breaks in the first set but Tsitsipas played better in the tie-break, earning the crucial mini-break to move 6-5 ahead by winning a gruelling point at the net with a volley.

The second set was similarly tight but Tsitsipas remained immaculate on serve – he did not face a break point in the match – and eventually broke serve to go 5-4 in front, helped by the Russian choosing not to volley a return at 30-30 that landed in.

Tsitsipas served out the match in the following game, and celebrated enthusiastically after the final point as he moved top of the early group table.

Tsitsipas, who beat Federer en route to the semi-finals of this year’s Australian Open, won the Next Gen event a year ago – the season-ending tournament for players aged 21 or under.

He said he had “goosebumps” when making his debut in London.

Frank Lampard
Frank Lampard handed five Englishmen, aged 21 or younger, their Champions League debuts for Chelsea in the club’s first two games this season – the most by a team in a single season in the competition’s history

Frank Lampard felt his Chelsea “babies” came of age as the Blues claimed a memorable 1-0 win at Ajax in the Champions League.

Substitute Michy Batshuayi struck with four minutes remaining to hand Chelsea their second win in Group H.

Lampard has shown his faith in young players this season and has now been rewarded with the biggest result of his Chelsea managerial career.

“I’m delighted with every element of the performance,” said the Blues boss.

“I think we’re allowed to be excited tonight. That’s the blueprint. There are no excuses for us now. That’s the standard and we can’t drop it.

“The young players are still babies in terms of Champions League minutes so this was a huge test for them.

“There was a good balance of young players and experience. We need to realise the things that made that happen tonight because Ajax are a top, top team.”

‘Subs made the difference’

Michy Batshuayi
Batshuayi’s goal came 15 minutes after he was sent on to the pitch

It was a first loss in this season’s Champions League for Ajax, who reached the semi-finals of the competition last year.

They had a goal ruled out by the Video Assistant Referee when Quincy Promes was adjudged to have been offside, while Edson Alvarez hit the post with a header.

However, the game changed when Lampard sent on Christian Pulisic and Batshuayi midway through the second half.

USA winger Pulisic provided the assist for Batshuayi, who recovered from a bad miss earlier to score the winner.

“The subs were second to none,” added Lampard.

“Sometimes the hardest thing is leaving someone out. But it’s great for the spirit of the squad when subs come on and have an impact like that.

“Christian’s assist is as important as the finish, and the fact the sub scored makes me so happy.”

‘Chelsea attitude and application brilliant’

Former England and West Ham defender Matt Upson on BBC Radio 5 Live said: “It’s a brilliant result for Chelsea and you have to say, it’s thoroughly deserved, not just because of the attitude and application of the players but in the balance of play.

“They had a lot of opportunities, especially Callum Hudson-Odoi in the first half, and again in the second for Michy Batshuayi.”

Joel Matip in action against Chelsea
Matip has scored four goals in 82 Premier League appearances for Liverpool

Liverpool defender Joel Matip has signed a new long-term deal which will keep him at the club until summer 2024.

Matip joined Liverpool from Schalke in 2016 and helped Jurgen Klopp’s side to the 2018-19 Champions League title.

“It’s a great feeling to be a longer part of the club. It’s really just a great feeling,” he said.

“From outside, you know Liverpool is such a big club – but when you are inside, then you really get a feeling for how big the club is in all the countries – the supporters are everywhere. It’s a massive and big club that I think every player would want to play for.

“We have a young and talented team and I think every one of us is hungry. Now we’ve seen how it is to win something and we want to have that feeling again.”

Matip missed Liverpool’s last two games before the international break through injury but is expected to return for Sunday’s visit to Manchester United.

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November 2019