Djokovic beats lacklustre Berrettini in ATP Finals opener

Attempting to regain the world No. 1 ranking, the Serb saw off the Italian eighth seed with a 6-2, 6-1 win in London.

Serbia's Novak Djokovic plays a return to Italy's Matteo Berrettini during their ATP World Tour Finals singles tennis match at the O2 Arena in London.   -  AP

Second seed Novak Djokovic saw off an uninspiring Matteo Berrettini in a 6-2, 6-1 victory in the opening match of the 2019 ATP Finals in London on Sunday evening.

After holding for two-all in the opening set, the Italian eighth seed strewed the ball frequently into the net and occasionally long. Djokovic broke in the sixth game for a 4-2 lead. Serving to stay in the opener, Berrettini gifted the Serb three set points with three unforced errors and then the set 6-2 with a fourth. In all, Berrettini logged 17 unforced errors to Djokovic’s three in the set.

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Berrettini was more of the same as the second set began, hammering the ball long in his first service game to give Djokovic a break point and following that up with a double fault. Djokovic broke a second time take a four games to love lead, before Berrettini finally showed some fight and broke back. But the Serb broke back the very next game to lead 5-1 and then served out the match.

Running for records

Djokovic is bidding to match American great Pete Sampras’s record of finishing as the year-end world No. 1 six times. The Serb No. 2, currently tied with Roger Federer on five times, began the ATP Finals 640 points behind Rafael Nadal, with a maximum of 1,500 available – 200 for wins in each of three round-robin ties, 400 for winning a semifinal and 500 for victory in the final.

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On his part, Nadal is looking to match Djokovic and Federer by ending the year as No. 1 for a fifth time.

Djokovic is also attempting to tie Federer’s record of six ATP Finals titles. Nadal is seeking a first, which would give him the singles tennis box set of all four Grand Slams, Olympic gold and the ATP Finals – the first man to do so. Djokovic and Federer are missing the Olympics singles title.