Novak Djokovic: ‘I wanted to put him out of the comfort zone’

On Day 4 of the ATP Finals in Turin, Novak Djokovic’s umpteenth show of strength arrived. The Serbian champion has secured the passage to the semifinals of the Tournament of Masters for the tenth time in his career, better than him only Roger Federer (16) and Ivan Lendl (12), thanks to the clear victory obtained against a shy Andrey Rublev. The two had never faced each other in their careers before today, but the field highlighted the great technical and physical gap that divides them. The 20-time Grand Slam champion didn’t get off to a good start and immediately lost his serve by making several gratuitous mistakes and not getting help from the first one. However, Rublev was unable to confirm the break advantage and allowed Djokovic to immediately raise his head. As the minutes went by, the Belgrade took control of the exchanges and in the eighth game he found the break that made the difference. In the second half of the game, the Serbian didn’t give his rival any more chances and dominated the game with determination. To underline the incredible point won by Djokovic in the third game; point where he defended himself tooth and nail right up to the delightful backhand loop. “My goal is to win, I still have a lot of ambitions,” said Djokovic in the post-match interview. “I have a lot of pressure when I go out on the pitch, everyone expects me to win.”

Djokovic def. Rublev

Novak Djokovic described his overall performance as “great” after cruising past Andrey Rublev in theĀ 2021 ATP FinalsĀ on Wednesday. The World No. 1 said he wanted to force Rublev out of his comfort zone to combat the Russian’s power, while also highlighting his own strong-serving display as crucial. “I knew that I had to be on my toes, so to say,” Djokovic said. “I had to start well with a good intensity. I dropped serve [in the opening game] again like in the first match – wasn’t a great start. I managed to re-break right away. Was quite a nervous start from both of us. Some close games until 4-3, it was anybody’s game. Somehow I managed to find the right shots at the right time, I kind of made him play,” Djokovic continued. “The crucial point was the one [at] 4-3, break point – when I managed to put a good passing shot next to him and get on top of him, 5-3. Winning the first set, I put additional pressure on him. Started to maybe play even more consistent from back of the court. I served very well, that helped tremendously. You don’t enjoy it (Rublev’s pace), he takes away the time from you,” Djokovic added. “He stands very close to the line, you know. But he’s the kind of player that [when] something goes wrong, it’s difficult for him. You know, he makes a lot of unforced errors. I wanted to put him out of the comfort zone, take away the time also from him, mix up the pace. Just a great performance overall.”

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