Defending champion Alexander Zverev defeated Rafael Nadal 6-2, 6-4 in the ATP finals match on Monday evening. It was his first win over the Spaniard in six attempts. This is the second consecutive win over a top seed at the World Tour Finals.
Nadal, who was playing his first match since withdrawing from the Paris Masters because of an injury, did not struggle during the match, but was not at his best either. The match lasted for an hour and 24 minutes. The German broke Nadal early on in the first set and did not look back throughout the game, capitalizing on Nadal's lack of sharpness.
Nadal has not played a full tournament since the US Open in September and his struggle was evident in terms of the numbers from the match. In the first set, Zverev had an 86% first serve winner, with a lot the number down to the high speed with which he was serving. Zverev certainly had a game in place, which he was able to execute very well. The serves helped him rake up six aces in the first set against Nadal's one ace.
The story was similar in the second set, and although Nadal was able to match Zverev's game, he was not able to hold him for long.
After the match, Nadal downplayed the effect of his injury. Speaking to media, he said, "I did not feel pain in the abdominal at all. Sascha, well played, and me [badly] played, honestly. We can find reasons or excuses, but at the end of the day, [what] really matters is I need to play much better in two days after tomorrow. That's the only thing."
Zverev, on the other hand, said, "This means so much, playing here again after winning my biggest title so far in my career here last year. This means everything to me. I was looking forward to this match, and thanks a lot for all the support, everybody who came out. The atmosphere is the reason why everybody is trying, the goal of the beginning of the season is to make London. Because playing here, playing in front of you all, playing in The O2 is something that we don't have during the year, and this is so special.”