Djokovic advances at ATP Finals, sends well-wishes to Federer

Turin, Italy, Nov 17 (EFE).- Serbian world No. 1 Novak Djokovic booked his spot in the final four of the ATP Finals by brushing aside Russia’s Andrey Rublev 6-3, 6-2 in group stage action on Wednesday.

In remarks to reporters in Turin, he also expressed hope that Swiss great Roger Federer can overcome his injury woes and return to the sport as soon as possible.

Rublev got off to a strong start in his first career meeting against the 20-time Grand Slam champion when he earned a service break in the first game at the Pala Alpitour, but it was mostly one-way traffic the rest of the way.

Djokovic got one break back immediately and then took full command of the first set with a second service break in the eighth game, going ahead 5-3 with a backhand passing shot after Rublev weakly popped up a forehand volley.

Never fearing Rublev’s powerful ground strokes, Djokovic at times appeared to bait the Russian into coming forward and then relied on his jaw-dropping defense to win points.

A prime example came at 1-1 deuce in the second set, when the five-time ATP Finals champion showcased his uncanny flexibility to retrieve one crosscourt shot on the forehand side and then ran across the baseline and hit a trademark open-stance backhand passing shot past his net-rushing opponent.

The world No. 1 also produced plenty of offensive firepower during the contest, including an ace on match point (his 14th overall) to wrap up the straight-forward victory.

Djokovic’s 19 winners were only one more than his opponent’s tally, but Rublev’s 26 unforced errors were more than triple the number (eight) committed by the Serbian great.

Afterward, Rublev acknowledged that nerves caused him to rush through points against Djokovic.

Also Wednesday, Djokovic was asked for a response to Federer’s remarks to the Tribune de Geneve daily that he would be “incredibly surprised” if he is back in time to play Wimbledon next July.

The 40-year-old Federer, who is trying to return from knee surgery, said he is still holding out hope that he can reach one more Grand Slam final.

Djokovic said he wasn’t aware that one of his greatest rivals and a player who shares the Grand Slam record with him and Spain’s Rafael Nadal would be out of action that long.

“Obviously, Roger is an icon of our sport, and people around the world love him. They love watching him play; they love seeing him around. He is very important for our sport, on and off the court,” Djokovic said. “So for the sake of our sport, I sincerely hope that we can see him play, at least another time.”

In one other round-robin contest on Wednesday, Norwegian world No 8 Casper Ruud overcame a rocky first set to defeat Great Britain’s Cameron Norrie 1-6, 6-3, 6-4 and keep alive his hopes of reaching the final four of this elite eight-man event.

Ruud and Rublev will play off on Friday for a spot in the semifinals. EFE


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