Djoker secures ATP Finals semis spot
FORMER world number one and 21-time Grand Slam champion Novak Djokovic has booked his ticket to the ATP Finals last four with a win over Andrey Rublev in Turin, Italy overnight. Both players were coming off victories over Stefanos Tsitsipas and Daniil Medvedev respectively, and with the Serbian’s triumph, it ensured he will finish inside the top two of his group.
Djokovic ensured his place in the semi-finals thanks to the 6-4 6-1 win over Rublev, in a sizzling performance of discipline across three quarters. Hitting just six unforced errors against the sixth seed, the seventh seed broke three times from four chances without facing a break point in a match that lasted just 68 minutes.
“I played very, very well. One of the best matches of the year without a doubt,” Djokovic said post-match. “He is a tough opponent. A great competitor. He possesses a lot of strengths in his game. I managed to find the right attitude and the right game.
“In the 10th game of the first set, I think he was 40-30 and we played a long rally and I just stayed in there and told myself chances will come. He went down in his energy a little in the second [set] and I wanted to use the momentum and energy from my side in the first few games and it was a flawless second set.”
Incredibly Djokovic wound back the clock to past years, producing 12 aces – two more than Rublev – and also winning an incredible 33 of 35 first serve points (94 per cent) off an 81 per cent clip. In total, Djokovic only dropped seven points on serve for the entire match and controlled every facet of the game in the second set to cruise to victory against a quality opponent.
The result meant that Rublev will now face off against Tsitsipas for the second spot in the semi-finals from the Red Group, while Djokovic will take on the eliminated Medvedev. The top-ranked Russian was knocked out of the event by the Greek second seed, who ensured his hopes of reaching the final four again remained alive.
Tsitsipas needed an incredible three-set, two-hour and 21-minute epic to overcome Medvedev, with the Russian again losing in a heartbreaking third set tiebreaker. After losing to compatriot Rublev 7-6 3-6 7-6, Medvedev would have had a sense of déjà vu in his practically identical, 6-3 6-7 7-6 loss to the Greek talent. Playing for the 11th time, Medvedev had the 7-3 head-to-head record over Tsitsipas, but the second seed showed why he is so highly ranked, grinding out a win after almost losing composure in the second set.
The higher ranked player had three match points in the second set but could not take advantage of them as the Russian held on to win 13-11 in a nail-biting tiebreak. Then when down 3-5 in the decider, Tsitsipas rallied to break back, and eventually close out the match in a tiebreaker himself. Winning the first six points of the tiebreak, Tsitsipas won 7-1 in comfortable fashion to finish on a high after such an exhausting match.
“It was very tiring out there,” Tsitsipas said post-match. “I’m so glad I overcame this and I was able to enjoy it with the crowd. It’s a great win and I’m extremely proud of the way I thought. It never seemed to kind of be ending for me. Even on the last game when he was serving, I still felt if I was able to put a few balls in, some opportunity might present [itself], and it did.
“It was great to get back into the match, I felt reborn, and what a great way to end it.”