Novak Djokovic has booked a place in the semi-finals of the Nitto ATP Finals, and while doing so he has also registered his 50th match win of the year on Wednesday. Chasing a record-equalling sixth trophy at the season finale, the World No.1 bagged the Green Group play at the Pala Alpitour in Turin with a straight-forward 6-3, 6-2 victory over fifth seed Andrey Rublev. With Daniil Medvedev clinching the Red Group on Tuesday, a possible World No.1 against No.2 final is still on the cards come 21st November.
In his 10th semi-final at the Nitto ATP Finals, Djokovic will be keen to maintain his momentum in Friday’s round-robin match against British alternate Cameron Norrie. The 26-year-old has replaced Stefanos Tsitsipas in the elite field. Speaking about Friday’s match against Norrie, Djokovic said, “I always like playing new players, particularly in one of the greatest tournaments in the world here in Turin. Cameron deserves to be here, it’s not lucky. He worked his way to Turin with great wins in Indian Wells and some other tournaments, so it will be fun to watch him tonight against Ruud and I’ll get ready for my next match.”
In a match that lasted 68 minutes, Djokovic did not allow Rublev any breather, as the Serbian overcame early wobble to gain complete control of the match. The Russian was unable to capitalise on an early service break. By the fifth game, Djokovic had settled, and there was no stopping him. In total, he lost only five games en route to a commanding victory.
“I knew that I had to be on my toes and start well,” said Djokovic. “I dropped my serve again like in the first match [against Casper Ruud]. It was quite a nervous start from both of us until 4-3, then with new balls I somehow managed to find the right shots at the right time.
“I made him play, crucially on the break point at 4-3, when I managed to strike a good passing shot. Winning the first set I put additional pressure on him, and I started to maybe play more consistently from the back of the court. I served well [and] that helped tremendously. I wanted to put him out of his comfort zone, taking away the time and mix up the pace. It was a great performance overall.”
Italian sensation Jannik Sinner kept the home flag flying in Turin by getting his first win against Hubert Hurkacz with the scoreline reading 6-2, 6-2. World No.11 Sinner was in Turin as the first alternate. When his countryman Matteo Berrettini was unable to compete due to an abdominal injury, Sinner was called on to replace him in the draw.
“I found out around 5:00 p.m. today,” Sinner revealed in his post-match press conference. “Obviously, [the match] was first supposed to be at 2:00 p.m., but they moved it to 9:00 p.m. to give [Berrettini] some more time to see if he can play or not. I was ready, I was waiting but I didn’t know at what time he would decide. I have to say, I felt [good] today on court. I tried to play my best tennis, which I did in the moment. I’m very happy about my performance today.”
“The courts are quite similar to Milan during the Next Gen [ATP Finals]. I won there a couple of years ago, and now I’m here,” he added. “They are quite fast, and I feel well on these courts. “And of course, the atmosphere is amazing, everyone cheering here for me and for Italy. Playing in Italy is special because you stick together and you want to win together, and I had this feeling today. When the whole stadium is playing [with you] against one guy, it’s not easy.”