Novak Djokovic refuses to name himself ATP Finals ‘favourite’

Novak Djokovic claimed there were “no favourites” this week in Turin after defeating Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-4 7-6(4) in a dominant display to start his ATP Finals campaign with a round-robin win. The world No 8 is bidding to win his sixth overall title at the season-ending tournament and his first in seven years but admitted it wouldn’t be easy as he refused to name himself or anyone else as a favourite for the trophy.

Djokovic was clincinal in his first match of the week in Turin as he eased past second seed Tsitsipas in straight sets after just an hour and 37 minutes. It came nine days after the Serb was dragged into a three-set battle with the 24-year-old in the Paris Masters semi-final and was his ninth overall win against Tsitsipas in 12 meetings.

While the 35-year-old was left impressed by his own performance, he was still adamant that there were no favourites at the tournament, which sees the eight players who earned the most points throughout the season battling it out in the group stage to reach the semi-finals and finals. “Whoever I get to play against here, there’s no clear favourites,” he claimed after starting his campaign with a win.

“Everyone is hitting the ball very well, all the best players of this season are here so I’ve got to be at the top of my shape.” The world No 8 already knows his next two opponents as he will face Andrey Rublev on Wednesday before rounding out the group stage with a match against Daniil Medvedev on Friday.

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Rublev earned just his second career win over the world No 5 earlier on Monday, defeating the 2020 ATP Finals champion 6-7(7) 6-3 7-6(7), and Djokovic knew it would be difficult to come up against both players later in the week. “Rublev, amazing battle,” he said of the match.

“He had lots of chances to even finish the match in two sets, he was I think 5-2 up and had many set points in the tiebreak. Medvedev showed once again why he’s mentally one of the toughest players around, fighting all the way to the last shot. Credit to Rublev, he played really good in that third set tiebreak when he needed, he went for his shots so it’s a big win for him I’m sure.”

Meanwhile Djokovic himself was relieved to get an easy win over Tsitsipas after needing more than two hours to defeat the 24-year-old in the semi-final of the recent Paris Masters. “The first game was obviously very important, to break his serve,” the 35-year-old said of his ATP Finals win.

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