Novak Djokovic secured his eighth year-end world No. 1 ranking by overcoming Holger Rune in a late-night match to start the ATP Finals.
Novak Djokovic is attempting to win his seventh title, but faced tough competition from 20-year-old debutant, Holger Rune. Despite this, Djokovic managed to secure his third victory in five matches against Rune.
Djokovic finished a three-hour, four-minute match in Turin after midnight, winning with a score of 7-6 (4), 6-7 (1), 6-3.
Rune has fared much better against Djokovic than most of his rivals over the last couple of years, beating him in Paris last autumn and Rome in the spring before a narrow defeat in the French capital a week-and-a-half ago. The Serb went on to win the Masters series title, maintaining his record of not having lost a match since the Wimbledon final.
Rune took the initial lead with a break, leading 3-2, but Djokovic quickly retaliated. The set was filled with impressive play and went into a tie-break, which the top-ranked player won with a powerful forehand shot across the court that his opponent had no chance of returning. In the second set, Rune broke again to take a 2-0 lead, but Djokovic once again responded immediately. Despite having a set point at 4-5, Rune’s attempt was thwarted by Djokovic’s strong serve.
After making it to the quarter-finals at Wimbledon, Rune’s performance declined. However, he showed off his impressive skills and powerful shots during the match. He has consistently taken a set from Djokovic in their previous matches, but Djokovic’s lackluster tie-break helped Rune secure a deciding game.
Djokovic immediately broke serve at the start of the final set, but Rune quickly equalized, causing a frustrated Djokovic to angrily stomp on and break two rackets. However, Djokovic managed to break serve once again and took a 4-2 lead, ultimately securing the win as Rune was unable to recover.
Djokovic spoke to Prime Video and said, “It was a tough match that required my full effort. Right from the first game, I could tell from his powerful shots at the baseline that it was going to be a challenging night for me. He played exceptionally well, but I also had some great moments. Winning is what matters, and this was a highly emotional and tough win, especially considering the importance of this match. Despite a difficult second-set tie-break, I managed to play a strong third set.”
In the first singles match, Jannik Sinner brought excitement to the audience in Turin as he beat Stefanos Tsitsipas.
The 22-year-old from Italy was previously a substitute, but this season he earned his spot for the first time after winning four ATP Tour championships and reaching the rank of world No 4. He is considered one of the top contenders to win the tournament this week, which would be a dream come true for the local fans. His 6-4, 6-4 win against Tsitsipas is a significant move towards the semi-finals.
Tsitsipas’s physical condition had been questioned before the event, but he was unable to create an opportunity to break Sinner’s serve in the 85-minute match.
“I was filled with excitement as I stepped onto the court for the finals, it’s a truly special moment,” stated Sinner. “I was aware that the match would be challenging, but I believe I handled it well. My approach was to stay aggressive and I am extremely pleased with my performance. Starting off with a victory is a great start and I hope to maintain this level of intensity.”