Alcaraz beats frustrated Rublev at ATP Finals

Carlos Alcaraz kept alive his semi-final hopes in his maiden ATP Finals campaign with a win over Andrey Rublev in which the Russian hit himself so hard with his racquet he drew blood.

Wimbledon champion Alcaraz had lost to Alexander Zverev in his Red Group opener but the Spaniard returned to beat Rublev 7-5 6-2 in Turin, Italy.

Rublev, who lost to Daniil Medvedev on Monday, cannot reach the semi-finals.

In the doubles, Britain’s Joe Salisbury and American Rajeev Ram advanced.

The defending champions were 6-3 3-6 10-7 winners against Britain’s Neal Skupski and Dutchman Wesley Koolhof, who must beat Rohan Bopanna of India and Australian Matthew Ebden in their final group match to reach the semi-finals.

Later on Wednesday at the prestigious event, Zverev faces Medvedev in an encounter where both players have the chance to book a semi-final spot with a match to spare.

Alcaraz keeps alive semi-final hopes

Alcaraz, 20, missed last year’s tournament with an abdominal injury and was making his debut at the season-ending men’s event for the world’s top eight players.

He had been hampered by foot and back problems last month and lost in his opening match at the Paris Masters on his return from injury.

His shaky form continued on Monday in his opener as he struggled for consistency on the fast indoor hard court against Zverev, but he came back two days later full of purpose against an opponent who has so often let his emotions get the better of him in the biggest matches.

World number two Alcaraz, who dropped just one point on his first serve in the opening set, got the key breakthrough against Rublev in the 11th game and then served out the set.

Fifth seed Rublev, 26, had tried to regroup but started showing his frustration when he went break point down in the first game of the second set, smashing his racquet on the court.

When he lost the next point by hitting wide he then took his feelings out on his left leg, whacking himself with the racquet repeatedly on his way to his chair, leaving himself bleeding from above his knee.

He continued to struggle with his emotions, looking close to tears at times, and went another break down, with a dominant Alcaraz winning the final 12 points to keep himself in the running for the semi-finals.

“It was a totally different match and level from me [compared to Monday],” Alcaraz was quoted as saying by the ATP Finals website. “This is the level I have to play if I want to give myself a chance in this amazing tournament.”

Alcaraz will face 2020 champion Medvedev in his final round-robin match on Friday.

The Russian can book his place in the semi-finals later on Wednesday (20:00 GMT) if he beats Zverev in straight sets, while the seventh-seeded German will advance with any victory.

The ATP Finals features eight of the year’s best men’s players split into two groups of four, with the top two qualifying for the semi-finals.

World number one Novak Djokovic is the defending champion but suffered a setback on Tuesday when he was beaten by Italian Jannik Sinner.

The Serb can still advance from the Green Group with victory over Polish ninth seed Hubert Hurkacz – a replacement for the injured Stefanos Tsitsipas – on Thursday.

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