Jannik Sinner recorded his first win over top-ranked Novak Djokovic in the ATP Finals, much to the delight of the home crowd.
Sinner won 7-5, 6-7 (5), 7-6 (2) in a match that lasted more than three hours on Tuesday night and into Wednesday morning.
It was the 22-year-old Sinner’s first win in their four head-to-head meetings. It also ended Djokovic’s 19-match streak that dated back to his five-set loss to Carlos Alcaraz in the Wimbledon final.
Sinner sealed the result with a smash into the net to send the Turin arena into a frenzy.
“There is no better place to beat the World No. 1. After Wimbledon I said I felt a little closer but I didn’t even win a set,” Sinner said in his on-court interview, prompting the crowd to chant “Olé, Olé, Olé Olé, Sinner, Sin-ner ” on him.
“Here I managed to play the most important points in the best way. There was a bit of tension when I lost the second set, it was very difficult, but with you (the crowd) we won together.”
The referee had to tell the fans to be quiet several times during the hilarious incident as they tried to cheer the Italian player and moved Djokovic several times.
The 36-year-old Djokovic, who usually enjoys huge support in Italy, lapped up the boos and even encouraged the fans to raise their hostility towards him.
Sinner, who defeated Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-4, 6-4 in Sunday’s final, is on course to reach Saturday’s semi-finals. He will next play Holger Rune, who has one win after Tsitsipas dropped early in their green match and retired from the tournament.
First alternate Hubert Hurkacz will be played by Djokovic, who is looking to break a tie with Federer and capture a record seventh title at the finals.
Sinner did not reach the group stage in his next appearance at the ATP Finals, as an alternate in 2021.
But the crowd sensed a big win was on the cards when Sinner won nine straight points to wrap up the first set – rallying from 40-0 down to break Djokovic’s serve and then hold to love.
Sin also broke again in the third to lead 4-2 but Djokovic managed to get his only break of service in a match that was mainly served and saw 35 aces.
Sinner is coming off a year in which he has claimed four titles, including his first Masters 1000 trophy, and moved to a career-high No. 4 – the first Italian to be tall since Adriano Panatta almost half a century ago.
Tsitsipas withdrew with a back injury after playing just three games into his second game in Turin.
Tsitsipas, the 2019 champion, was trailing 2-1 in the opening set when he had a long chat with his trainer before slowly getting to his feet, shaking his head and walking over to shake Rune’s hand.
That only happened after 17 minutes of play and boos arose from the Turin crowd, who had to settle for an exhibition match between substitutes Taylor Fritz and Hurkacz.
“I apologize to all the fans and the crowd that came to support me today and watch the game. I’m very sorry I couldn’t finish the game,” Tsitsipas said. “My doctors and the many visits I’ve had in the last few days have shown me to play, they’ve given me the green light to go and try . .
“Unfortunately I felt terrible on the court … I hate to leave the games, I’m not the type of person who likes to leave in the middle of the game and it kills me not to be able to compete finish this, the one I have. prepared for so long, make sure I’m fully able to perform at my best and show my ability as a player.”
Tsitsipas cut short a training session on Friday due to an apparent physical issue but the Greek player said he was “fine”.
Rune lost his opener against Djokovic 7-6 (4), 6-7 (1), 6-3.
“Definitely (not the way I wanted to win). It’s a shame,” Rune said. “You could see in the first service game, he wasn’t serving as fully as possible.
Tsitsipas also withdrew from the tournament in 2021 after losing his opening match.
“It definitely hurts me a lot because this is the tournament that means the most to me, including the Grand Slams,” he said.
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