Spain’s Carlos Alcaraz got back on track at the ATP Finals with victory over a tormented Andrey Rublev on Wednesday, easing to a 7-5 6-2 to revive his hopes in Red Group.
World number two Alcaraz suffered an opening round-robin defeat by Alexander Zverev, but responded with a confident display, albeit against an unravelling Russian.
Rublev managed to hang on in the first set but wavered at 5-5 when he dropped his serve – Alcaraz then claiming the opening set with a comfortable hold.
Things deteriorated rapidly for Rublev when he dropped serve at the start of the second set. He slammed down his racket after handing Alcaraz a break point and when he then blazed a shot wide, he repeatedly smashed his racket into his leg.
The Turin crowd gasped and an emotional Rublev had to wipe blood off his knee during the changeover.
Alcaraz took complete control after that with Rublev seemingly playing against the Spaniard and himself. The contest reached its predictable conclusion in little more than an hour.
Later on Wednesday, Germany’s Zverev can guarantee a semi-final place if he beats Daniil Medvedev with both players looking to follow-up their opening victories.
The 20-year-old Alcaraz’s form has tailed off after his Wimbledon triumph in July against Novak Djokovic and he was on a three-match losing streak when he walked on court on Wednesday.
But he was delighted with his response from Monday’s setback as he claimed his first win at the season-ender, having missed the tournament last year because of injury.
“It was a totally different match and level from me. This is the level I have to play if I want to give myself a chance in this amazing tournament,” Alcaraz said.
“[Tuesday] was a good day for me in practice to find the level I needed to show [on Wednesday] and I think I did pretty well.”
Alcaraz will play Medvedev, the player who beat him in the US Open semi-finals, on Friday.