LONDON — For Stefanos Tsitsipas, finally getting his first win over Daniil Medvedev meant a lot.
Not only because Tsitsipas was 0-5 against the Russian before winning 7-6 (5), 6-4 Monday at the O2 Arena, or even that it came in his ATP Finals debut.
But mainly because two of the biggest rising stars in tennis simply don’t like each other that much.
“It’s a victory that I craved for a long time now, and it’s great that it came at this moment,” Tsitsipas said. “Our chemistry definitely isn’t the best that you can find on the tour. . It’s not that I hate him (but) we will not go to dinner together.”
The grudge dates to their first meeting, in Miami last year, when Medvedev berated Tsitsipas for not apologizing after hitting a net cord during a point, a spat that ended with both players trading insults on court.
“After that, I think I didn’t win a single game. He did get into my head, and I was very frustrated that it did go this way,” Tsitsipas said. “He started telling me that I should apologize, that what I do is unsportsmanlike. . Somehow it did affect me. I did get (angry) and said what I said, which I do regret, but at the time I was very frustrated.”
Since that match, Medvedev had earned another four straight wins over Tsitsipas, including in the Shanghai semifinals in October.
But on Monday, the sixth-seeded Greek earned the only break of the match to take a 5-4 lead in the second set and clinched the win with a forehand overhead at the net.
“He was better today, but I felt like I was missing some things,” Medvedev said. “This frustrates me after. I do think it would frustrate me against any other opponent. I hate to lose against anybody. Of course I wanted to make it even more bigger head-to-head, but it’s the way it is.”
Both players are making their debut at the year-end tournament for the world’s top eight players, which features a round robin before the semifinals. Medvedev established himself as one of the best hard-court players on tour this season, reaching the U.S. Open final and winning four titles on the surface.
But Tsitispas – the first Greek player to qualify for the ATP Finals – used an aggressive forehand to keep the Russian from dictating the match, coming to the net 26 times and winning 22 of those points.
In the first-set tiebreaker, Tsitsipas hit a forehand volley winner to go ahead 6-5 and clinched the set when Medvedev netted a forehand.
In the late match, top-ranked Rafael Nadal was to play defending champion Alexander Zverev. Nadal, who has a 5-0 record against Zverev, is looking for his first title at the event.
In the other group, Novak Djokovic beat Matteo Berrettini on Sunday while Roger Federer lost to Dominic Thiem.