Novak Djokovic makes no particular changes to the ‘first’ on the blue of the Pala Alpitour in Turin. On the contrary. Casper Ruud – parallel to his first career experience among the best eight – practically resists a set. The Serbian champion, who recovers a break from a disadvantage and who also remedies a false start in the twelfth game, considerably raises the level of joy in the moment of need, spreads without particular difficulties and blocks with a 7-6 (5) 6-2 the success. Number thirty-nine at the Finals. In the evening, the challenge between Stefanos Tsitsipas and Andrey Rublev (who will face each other for the eighth time in the major circuit) could already define the hierarchies of the Green Group. The visiting card of the Serbian champion reads 12-1. At least as regards the opening match at the Finals. To find defeat, you have to rewind the tape to 2007 and dust off David Ferrer from the archives. Ruud – somehow forced to play the role of the sacrificial victim – actually plays a near-perfect first set. He serves well, manages the situation well from the baseline, but above all he does not allow himself to be influenced by circumstances. Needless to say, he is the first to break the balance, both in the set and in the tie break. Djokovic – who mostly adapts to a rather wait-and-see tactic – heals the disadvantage perfectly, moves to 6-4 and obviously puts his head forward at the first useful opportunity. Despite a rather low percentage of points with the second ball, Djokovic takes off and above all limits the number of unforced errors to a minimum. Ruud – understandably empty and obviously short of valid alternatives in prolonged exchanges – in an attempt to shorten the number of prolonged exchanges, he leaves the service on the road at the start of the second and remains somehow stuck to the score recovering a handful of so in the third game. Little else. Djokovic – who strengthens his lead with a second break – spikes rather easily on 4-1 and leaves the crumbs on the road in the last two rounds of serving.
Pam Shriver pays tribute to Djokovic
Pam Shriver believes Novak Djokovic’s desire to break records will ensure that he gives it his all to win a record-equalling sixth ATP Finals title this year. “I think the fact that he hasn’t won it in a last few years will fill him with a little bit more fire,” Shriver said. “And let’s face it, Novak wants as many records – he’s greedy! These greatest players of all time, they’re greedy they leave so little for the rest of us.” The 34-year-old’s juggernaut season was brought to a momentary halt at the Tokyo Olympics, where he failed to win a medal. Djokovic’s Calendar Slam bid also fell by the wayside as he ended up losing to Daniil Medvedev in the US Open final. However, the Serb bounced back in style once again by winning the Paris Masters. There, he also clinched a record-breaking seventh Year-End No. 1 trophy, taking him past Pete Sampras’ all-time tally.