Five-time champion Novak Djokovic beat Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-4 7-6 in a Red Group match at the ATP Finals in Turin on Monday. It was Djokovic’s second win over the Greek in as many events after he also beat Tsitsipas in the last four in Bercy. Djokovic will take on Andrey Rublev on Wednesday with Tsitsipas set to take on Daniil Medvedev in what will be a must-win match for both. But what were the keys to Djokovic’s win?
#1 Djokovic clinical early on
Djokovic did not give Tsitsipas an inch in the first set as his athleticism combining his impressive athleticism (despite his age) with power and accuracy off the ground. In fact, Djokovic’s entire game looked to be in excellent working order, with his serve repeatedly drawing short returns from Tsitsipas’ racquet, allowing the great Serb to dispatch the ball for outright winners.
The 35-year-old got an early break and did not let his guard down, winning the first set more convincingly than the 6-4 scoreline might suggest. Tsitsipas worked hard to stay competitive despite the Djokovic onslaught, landing some powerful forehand blows of his own, but he never looked like getting the break back.
#2 Tsitsipas’ backhand down the line effective, but not effective enough
Tsitsipas, who rallied from a set down to force a deciding tiebreak in Bercy, looked to put pressure on Djokovic early in the second. He was not entirely successful in that endeavour, but he did use his backhand much more effectively. Crucially, he showed a greater willingness to go down-the-line to keep Djokovic guessing.
He also charged the net more often, putting his skills in the forecourt to good use. That kept the pressure off his own serve, but he continued to struggle to make in-roads against the Djokovic serve with his backhand return letting him down more than once. The result was a tiebreak. But, just as in the first set, Tsitsipas fell behind early, going to the change of ends trailing 1-5. That proved too great of a mountain to climb.
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