Novak Djokovic began his quest for a sixth ATP Finals title in style with a 6-2 6-1 victory against Italian Matteo Berrettini on Sunday.
Berrettini, the 23-year-old debutant, relied on his big serving to keep things competitive against the world No 2 but a costly error handed the Serb a break in the sixth game and he soon wrapped up the set with a break to love.
The eighth-ranked Italian, who reached the US Open semi-finals earlier this year, was not helped by 17 unforced errors, which were two more than the 15 points he won in the opening set.
Berrettini was already looking deflated but Djokovic burst his bubble as he raced through the second set, despite a blip after dropping serve having won eight-straight games, to make a statement to world No 1 Rafael Nadal.
Djokovic has made no secret of how much he values records and tying Pete Sampras by finishing a year ranked on top of the world for a sixth time, but he must at least reach the final of the season-ending tournament to stand a chance of overhauling Nadal. However, on this form it will take a juggernaut to stop him claiming the end-of-season title for a sixth time.
Race for No 1 – As it stands
1. Nadal – 9,5852. Djokovic – 9,145
Stats of the match
Djokovic improves to 36-12 overall at ATP Finals.
Djokovic vs Italian players on hardcourts
Matches: 24-0Sets: 56-2Games: 354-156
Novak Djokovic vs Matteo Berrettini: Match Stats
Djokovic: It feels great to be back
Earlier this year I had a great stay in London, and over the years I’ve played well in this arena. It was not easy for him at his first Finals match, I knew he would be nervous at the beginning and I used my experience to perform well. I was fortunate to get the first break and then I started reading his serve better. I played really solid throughout the match. I’ve been enjoying the conditions here for many years. It’s suitable to my game, but it’s never easy playing a big server like Matteo.
Who plays who next…
Roger Federer, bidding to win a record seventh title at the season-ending event, takes on Austrian Dominic Thiem in the evening match.
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