Novak Djokovic will finish the year as world number one for a record-extending eighth time after beating Holger Rune 7-6, 6-7, 6-3 in his opening match at the ATP Finals.
The 24-time Grand Slam champion needed just one win or a defeat for young rival Carlos Alcaraz in order to secure top spot in the ATP rankings for 2023 and made no mistake in the Green Group clash with spirited debutant Rune.
Stream Over 50 Sports Live & On-Demand with Kayo. Join now and start streaming instantly >
Djokovic, on a run of 19 straight wins, has had an age-defying year, winning three Slams to become the all-time record winner of major titles.
The 36-year-old came into the Finals in Turin off the back of his seventh triumph at the Paris Masters, his 40th victory at a Masters 100 event.
Those are two more records to add to a long and growing list for Djokovic, who is hunting a seventh Finals title which would take him one ahead of retired great Roger Federer.
It wasn’t smooth sailing for the 24 time Grand Slam winner however as his frustration boiled over early in the third and final set.
At a change of ends Djokovic blew his top and erupted as he smashed two racquets.
Djokovic got his anger out and regained his composure as he closed out the contest in a match that went a little over three hours.
The win places Djokovic second in Group A behind Jannik Sinner who comfortably took care of Stefanos Tsitsipas in the opening match of the ATP Tour Finals.
Sinner came out hot and took care of Tsitsipas in straight sets, 6-4, 6-4.
The 22-year-old laid down a marker in the first match of the ATP’s season-ending showpiece event in front of a delighted home crowd in Italy’s northeast.
“I was excited to step on court … I knew it was going to be very tough but I think I handled the situation well. I tried to stay aggressive and I am very happy with the performance,” said Sinner after the match.
Despite trailing his opponent 5-2 in their head-to-head record, Sinner got into an early lead in the first set.
He broke at 2-2 and never looked back as he confidently saw out victory in one hour 25 minutes.
On Tuesday Alcaraz will make his ATP Finals debut in Group B against the seventh seeded Alexander Zverev.
Alcaraz, the Wimbledon champion, is in uncertain form after being dumped out of the Paris Masters by Russian qualifier Roman Safiullin following return from an injury lay-off.
The Spaniard hadn’t played since the Shanghai Masters in early October due to lower back and left foot problems
The final match of the opening round contests will see Daniil Medvedev take on Andrey Rublev on Tuesday morning.
Originally published as Novak Djokovic defeats Holger Rune after destroying two racquets