Novak Djokovic responds after winning against Casper Ruud on Monday.© AFP
Novak Djokovic on Monday began his attempt to equal Roger Federer’s record number of ATP final victories with a straight 7-6 (7/4), 6-2 victory over Casper Ruud. World number one Djokovic wants to complete a remarkable year with a sixth-round title after just missing out on claiming all four Grand Slams, and starting strong against eighth-seeded Ruud, who is in. He sits at the top of the Green Group ahead of Stefanos Tsitsipas’ clash with Andrey Rublev in Monday’s evening session in Turin.
Norwegian Ruud, who played his first game ever in the final against one of the game’s best ever, played honorably and could easily have taken a one-set lead.
The 22-year-old broke free by breaking Djokovic in the very first game, but by game seven, the Serb was 4-3 ahead and looked well placed to take the first set.
Djokovic arrived at match 10 with his one-match lead intact and the match apparently turned in his favor, but Ruud saved two break points to retain his knockout and eventually take the set to a draw.
Ruud had a 4-3 lead, but Djokovic increased the pressure by winning four consecutive games to clinch the first set, and from there he chased away.
Djokovic immediately broke Ruud at the start of the second set and from there he walked to the victory and broke once more to claim the second set and the match.
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