Novak Djokovic opened his 2021 ATP Finals campaign in impressive fashion cruising past debutant Casper Ruud 7-6(4), 6-2.
Djokovic, who is seeking a record-tying 6th ATP Finals title, stumbled early getting broken in his first game but then rolled on serve, breaking the Norwegian early in the second.
“I recovered from that fall on that break point in that first game,” Djokovic said on court of his tumble. “It was very strange. I played a good forehand and came into the net and had a pretty comfortable overhead and I slipped, tripped, dropped my racquet and lost my serve. The conditions here are quite tough. If you lose your serve, it is difficult to get it back. But I managed to stay in. I am very pleased with the way I handled the match.”
Djokovic, who also collected his No. 1 trophy after the win, will face Andrey Rublev on Tuesday in round robin play.
The Russian has been struggling of late, but posted a strong win upsetting former champion Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-4, 6-4. The Greek came in with an arm/elbow issue but appeared to be healthy.
Last year it was Tsitsipas beating Rublev to start the Finals, this year Rublev returns the favor.
“I think these are the moments that we are practicing for, that we are living for: to be here and to enjoy this atmosphere, to play great tennis and for the spectators to enjoy,” Rublev told the crowd.
Rublev lost just four points on his first serve.
“When you serve good, it’s always the key,” Rublev added. “But it was not even just the serve. I was returning really aggressive, from the baseline I was also really aggressive. Today I played a great match and I’m really happy.”
Tsitsipas was also impressed.
“I thought Andrey played really well,” he said. “He was serving at his best that I have ever seen him serve. I think in the first set he had, I don’t know, something like 22 consecutive first serves. Maybe the stats are different, but that’s the feeling I have.”
On Tuesday, the Sunday winners and Sunday losers meet. That means defending champion Daniil Medvedev will meet Alexander Zverev. It’s their 11th meeting with both having won five each though Medvedev has won their last three indoors.
Matteo Berrettini will apparently give it a go against Hubert Hurkacz. The Italian injured his oblique in his opener. First alternate Jannik Sinner is awaiting the call to replace Berrettini.
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