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’Nov’
’18’
Djokovic qualifies for semis as tourney is plagued with injuries

Stefanos Tsitsipas is the latest player to be plagued by season-end injuries and has withdrawn from the ongoing Nitto ATP Finals due to a right elbow injury, which he sustained yesterday, ahead of his second match.

Second alternate, Cameron Norrie took his place against Casper Ruud. Tsitsipas lost his opening match on Monday night against Andrey Rublev, falling 6-4, 6-4.

26-year-old Norrie is making his debut at the season finale following a breakthrough season in which he won his first title in Los Cabos and claimed his maiden ATP Masters 1000 trophy in Indian Wells.

World Number one, Novak Djokovic qualified for the semi-finals with his 50th match win of the year yesterday. The Serb, chasing a record-equalling sixth trophy at the season finale, won his group play with a 6-3, 6-2 victory over Andrey Rublev.

Serbia’s Novak Djokovic celebrates after defeating Russia’s Andrey Rublev during their first round singles match of the ATP Finals at the Pala Alpitour venue in Turin on November 17, 2021. (Photo by Marco BERTORELLO / AFP)

With Daniil Medvedev winning the red group on Tuesday, a tasty World No. 1 versus No. 2 final is on the cards again this weekend. Through to his 10th semi-final at the ATP Finals (40-16 match record), the seven-time, year-end No. 1 in the FedEx ATP Rankings is looking to carry his momentum into tomorrow’s round-robin match against Norrie.

Djokovic, who has won his past six matches, was ruthlessly efficient and never let Rublev into the match, winning 34 of 48 deliveries in their first meeting. Rublev was unable to capitalise on an early service break and by the fifth game, Djokovic had settled, getting out of jail with an inch-perfect backhand winner down the line. It was very much first-strike tennis and through six games, only one point went over nine strokes.

Serbia’s Novak Djokovic celebrates after defeating Russia’s Andrey Rublev during their first round singles match of the ATP Finals at the Pala Alpitour venue in Turin on November 17, 2021. (Photo by Marco BERTORELLO / AFP)

Djokovic largely directed play away from Rublev’s forehand, the Russian’s biggest weapon, and reaped the reward when he drew Rublev to the net and broke for a 5-3 advantage with a backhand crosscourt winner.

After his first-game wobble, Djokovic served with greater confidence and closed out the 36-minute opener with an ace, having won 88 percent of his first-service points in the set.

Djokovic is now 50-6 on the season, having gone 27-1 in major championship play. Rublev, who won his first match on Monday against Tsitsipas, will play Ruud tomorrow.

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