Based on his time in Paris a couple of weeks ago not too much is expected of Rafael Nadal over the course of the week in London as he searches for his first ATP Finals trophy but his opening performance at the O2 is something to build on.
The level of performance from Rafa in his straight sets win over Rublev was solid, it was a typical performance from the Spaniard on an indoor hard court. I never think he is at his very best on this surface but once he sits he can soaked up the pressure, find movement with his forehand and hit that backhand soo flat and smooth cross court or down the line.
From Rafa’s perspective a perfect way to begin. I wouldn’t say he was pushed at all by Rublev who was quite disappointing.
The match felt like a debut at the ATP Finals, it was very tentative and a little bit rushed. Rublev has been super impressive this season in order to qualify and the five titles he won but I said this is a different challenge as he hasn’t been fully tested against the very best.
This was a test with plenty of questions left attached to it as for the first time in 2020 at ATP Finals a match was one in straight sets after three consecutive three set battles earlier on in the day.
I felt Rublev played with intent but it was erratic, the power behind the forehand was impressive but I felt it was a little bit of a lost performance of someone trying to power their way through and got a little frustrated and stuck.
It’s the start that Nadal needed especially with Thiem and Tsitsipas up next for the Spaniard it was must win on day one and for Rublev too maybe? He has beaten both this year but this is a new surrounding for him and he needs to bring his A game on Tuesday.