World No 2 Carlos Alcaraz is up and running at the ATP Finals at Pala Alpitour after a straight-sets victory over a frustrated Andrey Rublev on Wednesday.
The Spaniard was beaten by Alexander Zverev on Monday in what was his debut appearance at the season-ending tournament.
Alcaraz, though, made no mistake in his second Red Group clash when he defeated the Russian fifth seed 7-5, 6-2 in 74 minutes to keep alive his hopes of reaching the semi-finals.
It also brought to an end his three-match losing streak having been beaten by Grigor Dimitrov in Shanghai, Roman Safiullin in Paris and then Zverev in Turin.
“It was a totally different match and level from me. This is the level I have to play if I want to give myself a chance in this amazing tournament,” said Alcaraz, who takes on third seed Daniil Medvedev in his final round-robin match.
“Yesterday was a good day for me in practise to find the level I needed to show today and I think I did pretty well. I am very happy with my level.”
Next up for the 20-year-old will be Medvedev who beat Rublev in his opening match and can seal his spot in the last four by defeating Zverev in straight sets, while the German will go through if he secures a win of any sort later on Wednesday.
“I need to relax. It is really, really fast the court,” said Alcaraz. “I need to hit first. You need to be more aggressive than your opponent. I think that is key if you want to have chances in this tournament.”
Fifth seed Rublev, the reigning Monte Carlo Masters champion, was on the verge of tears after losing to countryman Medvedev and lost control again after giving away a service game at the start of the second set.
Being one set and a break down was too much for the 26-year-old who started smashing his racket into his own knee, drawing blood as he sat down.
Troubled Rublev was still bleeding down his leg after the change of court and, just as against Medvedev, gave into his anger and promptly collapsed.
After throwing away his serve to love in game seven to give Alcaraz the chance to serve for the match Rublev sat with his towel over his head, clearly trying to hold back the tears before the two-time Grand Slam champion sealed a comfortable victory.
Jannik Sinner leads the Green Group with two wins following his victory over Novak Djokovic on Tuesday. The top two finishers in each four-man group advances to the semi-finals.