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Djokovic Opens in Turin Tennis with Straight-set Win Over Ruud, Rublev Cruises Past Tsitsipas

Novak Djokovic of Serbia celebrates after defeating Casper Ruud of Norway in their group stage match of the Nitto ATP Finals tennis tournament in Turin, Italy, 15 November 2021. EPA-EFE/Alessandro Di Marco.

By Ricky Dimon

Novak Djokovic’s bid for a sixth Nitto ATP Finals title–and first since 2015–is off and running with a 7-6(4), 6-2 victory over Casper Ruud on Monday afternoon. Djokovic recovered from an early break down in the opening set and ended up prevailing in one hour and 30 minutes.

Ruud broke right away and consolidated his early advantage for 3-1, but Djokovic broke in the sixth game. The top-seeded Serb missed two set points with his opponent serving at 4-5 and was eventually pushed to a tiebreaker, in which he trailed 4-3 before reeling off the final four points.

A much more straightforward second set saw Djokovic break twice and drop a total of just three points on serve.

“The conditions here are quite tough,” the world No. 3 assessed. “If you lose your serve, it is difficult to get it back. But I managed to stay in (it). I am very pleased with the way I handled the match.”

“I think it was a very fun and exciting first set,” Ruud reflected. “There were some fun rallies and some good rallies. Honestly, I think I have seen Novak play better than he did in the first set and I have also felt better on the court than the first set, but we still managed to produce some good tennis.

“It’s not always easy; it’s the first match. I’m sure he was a bit nervous, but I was also a bit nervous. It’s the first time for me on this stage.”

Andrey Rublev of Russia in action against Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece during their group stage match of the Nitto ATP Finals tennis tournament in Turin, Italy, 15 November 2021. EPA-EFE/Alessandro Di Marco

Ruud’s second match will come against Stefanos Tsitsipas, who lost Monday’s nightcap against Andrey Rublev 6-4, 6-4. Rublev served incredibly well, making 68 percent of his first offerings and winning 90 percent of those points. The fifth-ranked Russian did not face a single break point and he finished with more than twice as many winners (27) as unforced errors (13).

“When you serve good, it’s always the key,” Rublev said. “But it was not even just the serve. I was returning really aggressive; from the baseline I was also really aggressive. Today I played a great match and I’m really happy.”  

Rublev and Djokovic will square off in the Group A winners’ match on Wednesday.

Ricky contributes to 10sballs.com and also maintains his own tennis website, The Grandstand. You can follow him on twitter at @Dimonator.