Novak Djokovic ensured he will finish the year ranked world No 1 for an eighth time after battling to a late-night victory over Holger Rune in his opening match at the ATP Finals.
Novak Djokovic is attempting to win his seventh title in the tournament, but once again faced a tough challenge from 20-year-old Holger Rune, who is participating in the eight-player event for the first time. Despite this, Djokovic was able to secure his third victory in five matches against Rune.
Djokovic secured a 7-6 (4), 6-7 (1), 6-3 win in a three-hour and four-minute match in Turin, well after midnight.
Rune has had more success against Djokovic compared to his other opponents in recent years. He won against Djokovic in Paris last fall and Rome in the spring, and narrowly lost to him in the French capital just over a week ago. Djokovic then went on to win the Masters series title, keeping his undefeated streak since the Wimbledon final.
Rune was the initial scorer with a break, putting him ahead 3-2. However, Djokovic quickly retaliated and the set, which showcased exceptional skill, ended up in a tie-break. The number one seed won it with a powerful cross-court forehand that his opponent could not defend against. In the second set, Rune rebounded and broke again to take a 2-0 lead. But, as before, Djokovic had a swift answer and his strong serve prevented the young Dane from securing the set when he had a set point at 4-5.
After making it to the Wimbledon quarter-finals, Rune’s performance improved upon hiring Boris Becker, Djokovic’s former coach, last month. Despite this, he showed off his immense skill and powerful ball-striking throughout the match. In every previous match against Djokovic, Rune has managed to win at least one set. However, this time, his opponent’s subpar performance in the tie-break helped set up a final set.
In the final set, Djokovic quickly gained an advantage by breaking Rune’s serve. However, Rune was able to bounce back and tie the score, causing Djokovic to become visibly irritated and break two rackets in frustration. Despite this setback, Djokovic managed to break Rune’s serve once again, securing a 4-2 lead and ultimately securing his victory.
Djokovic informed Prime Video that the match required his full effort. He recognized from the first game that his opponent was strong and knew it would be a challenging night. While he played well at times, he acknowledges that the win was not easy. The victory was emotionally charged and he was aware of the importance of the match. Despite a difficult second-set tie-break, Djokovic was satisfied with his performance in the third set.
In the first singles match, Jannik Sinner brought joy to the audience in Turin with his victory over Stefanos Tsitsipas.
The 22-year-old Italian was previously a substitute, but earned his spot this season after winning four ATP Tour titles and reaching the No. 4 ranking in the world. He is considered a top contender to win the trophy this week, which would be a dream come true for local fans. His 6-4, 6-4 win over Tsitsipas puts him closer to the semi-finals.
Tsitsipas’s physical condition was questionable before the event, and he was unable to create a break opportunity against Sinner’s serve in the 85-minute match.
Sinner expressed his enthusiasm for starting the finals and acknowledged the significance of the occasion. Despite expecting a difficult match, he felt he handled it well and maintained an aggressive approach. He was pleased with his performance and hopes to maintain the same level of intensity throughout the tournament.