Daniil Medvedev reached the semi-finals at the ATP Finals and Carlos Alcaraz kept alive his own hopes on his debut by beating an anguished Andrey Rublev.
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 hit himself so hard with his racquet that he drew blood in a loss that ended his last-four chances.
But fellow Russian Medvedev beat Zverev 7-6 (9-7) 6-4 to reach the semi-finals.
In the doubles, Britain’s Joe Salisbury and American Rajeev Ram – the defending champions at the prestigious season-ending event – advanced with a match to spare.
They 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 last four.
Alcaraz keeps alive semi-final hopes
Alcaraz, 20, missed last year’s tournament with an abdominal injury and is making his first appearance 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.
Medvedev first player into semis
Medvedev failed to win any of his three group matches last year but has made an excellent start in Turin this time, following up his opening victory over Rublev with another straight-set win that made him the first player to book his spot in the semis.
But the third seed was tested by Zverev, who held set point in a first-set tie-break that was full of errors by both players.
The German had led 4-1 in the tie-break when he missed a straightforward backhand volley at the net, which set the tone. A missed lob and a forehand into the net helped Medvedev to get back on level terms before Zverev delivered an ace to bring up set point.
But the world number seven could only hit long and then wide to give Medvedev his own set point and then sent another backhand volley into the net to hand the Russian the set.
Zverev had a chance to break for a 5-4 lead in the second set but again his shots – and especially his forehand – deserted him in the big moments, first going wide and then sending a forehand into the net, allowing Medvedev to hold with a beautiful backhand down the line.
Another backhand down the line in the next game on Zverev’s serve set up match point for Medvedev, who sealed the win when the German went long.
Zverev will take on Rublev in his final group match on Friday and, like Alcaraz, still has a chance to make the semi-finals.
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.