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Stefanos Tsitsipas ramps up rivalry with Daniil Medvedev after beating the Russian at the ATP Finals

 

Stefanos Tsitsipas danced around the court like he had scored a cup final winner, so delighted was he to finally defeat Daniil Medvedev.

He was certainly not going to spare the feelings of an opponent he demonstrably dislikes, and did not hold back in celebrating a 7-6, 6-4 victory in his opening match on Monday at the ATP Finals.

It was his first success in six attempts against the US Open finalist, and the 02 Arena liked what it saw, the 21 year-old Greek showing that he is a Centre Court heartthrob in the making.

Stefanos Tsitsipas had a reason to smile after beating Daniil Medvedev in their ATP Finals clash

Stefanos Tsitsipas had a reason to smile after beating Daniil Medvedev in their ATP Finals clash

While Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic exist in a state of cordial truce, younger guns like Medvedev and Tsitsipas are less inclined to hide their true feelings about each other.

Their beef extends back to their first meeting, at the Miami Open last year, where they had to be separated by the umpire after the Russian had begun a head-to-head streak of five wins.

The Greek had called his opponent a ‘b******* Russian’ among other things, and after Monday’s win explained the aggravation in that match, which has not been forgotten by either. It all started with a fluky netcord that went the Greek’s way.

‘He started looking at me, telling me to apologise for what I just did. It was triple break point for me to go back into the match,’ said Tsitsipas. ‘ And after that, I think I didn’t win a single game. He did get into my head, and I was very frustrated.

Tsitsipas had a record of played five, lost five against Medvedev before Monday's group match

Tsitsipas had a record of played five, lost five against Medvedev before Monday’s group match

‘He start telling me that what I do is unsportsmanlike. I tried not to pay attention, because I knew that it was something intentional, something that he wanted to pass on to me. Somehow it did affect me.

‘I got p***** and said what I said, which I do regret, but at the time I was very frustrated that things happened this way.

‘Our chemistry definitely isn’t the best that you can find on the tour. It just happens with people that you can’t just like everyone. I remember coming out of my match in Shanghai against him (last month) and saying to my coach that things are going to be different next time.’

In the other match of their Andre Agassi group Rafael Nadal was last night facing last year’s winner of this event, Alex Zverev.

While Tsitsipas showcased his all-court talent a big difference on Monday was that Medvedev looks to be suffering a hangover from his post-Wimbledon exertions that saw him surge into the top five.

For Medvedev it's an early blow to his hopes in London this week after his 7-6 (7-5), 6-4 defeat

For Medvedev it’s an early blow to his hopes in London this week after his 7-6 (7-5), 6-4 defeat

Having repeatedly reached finals all the way to Shanghai – the highlight of which was his near miraculous comeback against Nadal at Flushing Meadows – he has lost a little sharpness.

Against highly motivated opponent he could not summon up his best, and was edged out of the tiebreak from 5-5.

‘I’ve lost my momentum a little,’ said Medvedev. ‘I think the most important thing for him was to win his first match at the Finals. I think he would celebrate this way against anybody, no matter who he beat here.’

Federer today has to try and keep his survival hopes alive when he takes on Italy’s Matteo Berrettini in the afternoon session at the 02 Arena.

He will be preceded by Londoner Joe Salisbury and American Rajeev Ram, who have what looks like a must-win encounter against Ivan Dodig and Filip Polasek.

While Britain’s Davis Cup team leave tomorrow for Madrid to begin their preparations Surrey 17 year-old Jack Draper yesterday had a good result at the Helsinki Challenger event, beating 18 year-old US Open junior champion Jonas Forejtek 3-6, 6-3, 6-4.

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