ATP Finals: Novak Djokovic starts campaign with win but Stefanos Tsitsipas tastes defeat

The world No1 claimed a 7-6(4) 6-2 victory in his first round-robin contest, while Tsitsipas fell in straight sets

Eleanor Crooks
Monday 15 November 2021 22:18
Novak Djokovic celebrates victory over Casper Ruud (Luca Bruno/AP)
Novak Djokovic celebrates victory over Casper Ruud (Luca Bruno/AP)

Novak Djokovic recovered from a wobbly start to defeat debutant Casper Ruud in his opening match at the ATP Finals in Turin, but Stefanos Tsitsipas was beaten by Andrey Rublev.

Djokovic is bidding for a record-equalling sixth title at the season-ending tournament but has not lifted the trophy since 2015.

He arrived in Italy on the back of a 37th Masters title in Paris and kept his winning run going with a 7-6(4) 6-2 victory over Ruud, who is the first Norwegian to qualify for the tournament.

Djokovic dropped serve in the opening game after a point when he stumbled and dropped his racket before netting, but he settled into the match and broke back for 3-3.

Ruud, who has developed his game this year to be a threat on all surfaces, rather than just his favoured clay, did well to save two set points at 4-5, but Djokovic came out on top in the tie-break.

The second set was a masterclass from Djokovic, who applied intense pressure to his 22-year-old opponent’s serve and eased to victory.

Djokovic said: “I don’t know what happened in that break point in the first game. I took a fall, tripped on my own legs a couple of times, so it was really a terrible start, but also funny that I’m still trying to figure out what happened.

Novak Djokovic hits a running forehand (Luca Bruno/AP)

“But Casper started strong. He was hitting solid, especially from the forehand side. He was serving very well. Altitudes, fast court, fast balls, it favours big servers.

“The momentum shifted to my side when I managed to have a very strong last three, four points of the tie-breaker, and then I was kind of on the roll and I felt that momentum shifted to my side, and then I was serving extremely well.”

Tsitsipas pulled out of the Paris Masters with an arm injury and was second best against Russian Rublev, who triumphed 6-4 6-4.

The pair have a number of close battles, including at the same tournament in London last year, when 2019 champion Tsitsipas won on a deciding tie-break.

But this contest went the way of Rublev, who produced a brilliant serving display, particularly in the first set, and dictated with his forehand to boost his chances of qualifying for the semi-finals.

Tsitsipas declined to comment on his fitness, but said: “I’m excited. I still want to play good tennis and, despite the loss today, I’m given more chances. I want to step it up and show better tennis next time.”

Earlier, Joe Salisbury won the battle of the Britons against Jamie Murray.

This is the first time two British doubles players have qualified for the tournament as one of the top eight teams of the year, with Salisbury partnering American Rajeev Ram and Murray teaming up with Brazilian Bruno Soares.

The pairs faced each other in their first group match and, for the third time this year, it was Salisbury and Ram that came out on top.

Rajeev Ram and Joe Salisbury (top) take on Jamie Murray and Bruno Soares (Luca Bruno/AP)

They had previously met in the semi-finals of the Australian Open and the final of the US Open, and here Salisbury and Ram capitalised on a fast start to win 6-1 7-6(5).

Murray dropped serve twice in the opening set, but the second was much tighter, with both teams missing chances to forge ahead.

Ram and Salisbury took an early lead in the tie-break, though, and a return winner from Ram on their second match point clinched victory for the second seeds.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged in