Novak Djokovic begin his 13th ATP Finals campaign cruising to a 6=3-, 6-3 victory over tournament debutant Diego Schwartzman in his opening match of the round robin stage.
The 6-time champion was breaking early but other had little trouble against the Argentine who he has now beaten in all six of their meetings.
“The beginning of the match wasn’t that great for me,” Djokovic said. “He broke my serve in the third game and I managed to break. It was a close encounter until I broke his serve at 4-3 and managed to close out the first set,” said Djokovic in an on-court interview.
”In the second set, I started swinging through the ball a little more a bit less hesitation from both corners. I was very pleased with the way I played, especially in the second set.”
Schwartzman was broken four times in the match.
“Everything is difficult,” Schwartzman said of facing the Serb. “I think what he’s doing when he’s playing his best, he’s moving the ball… to every single point on court.
“It’s very difficult to see or to know what he’s going to do and try to make good points,” he said. “He has a lot of talent when he has the chance to move the ball.”
Djokovic Wednesday foe will be Daniil Medvedev. The Russian collected his first ATP Finals win with his second straight win over Alexander Zverev in as many matches. Medvedev, who beat the German at the Paris Indoors nine days ago, withstood a shaky, grueling start, to take care of Zverev who had another dreadful day on serve.
“Confidence is the key, for sure. Winning an Masters always helps for the confidence,” Medvedev said. “I knew that I can play good. It was a little bit shaky from both of us in the beginning from one of view, but from the other of view, I think there were some unbelievable points. To be honest, the intensity of the match was one of the most I had in my career.”
Mid-way through the first set at 4-3, Medvedev even tossed in an underhand serve at 30-all.
“I didn’t want to disrespect him in any way. That is why I did it at 30/30, not at 40/0,” Medvedev said. “Before the serve, my wide serve was not working as well as I would have liked it to today and he was returning good. So I was like, ‘I’m going to go for the T, probably.’ Then I saw that he was like five metres behind the baseline and I had the ball close to my racquet. So I am like, ‘Okay, go for it.’ That was the move, just to win the point.
“It actually worked, he made a good ball back, because he could have missed it. It could have even been an ace, but I am happy that it worked because that is also smart.”
On tap Tuesday, Stefanos Tsitsipas collides with Andrey Rublev in a battle of opening day losers. The real showdown will take place between Rafael Nadal and Dominic Thiem.
Nadal leads 9-5 but the Austrian was the better man in Australia earlier in the year. It will be their first meeting indoors.
“He’s a great player,” Nadal said of Thiem. “He’s improving every year. He’s a hard worker. Great guy, so I’m super happy for him to watch him win his first Grand Slam and he deserve. He’s one of the guys on the tour that really deserves the success because he’s a very hard worker.
“So for me gonna be a tough one. Hopefully for him, too. I’m gonna try to be ready for it. Going to be a big challenge.”
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