Novak Djokovic’s fate at the ATP Finals remains in the hands of Jannik Sinner, the man who ended his 19-match winning streak on Tuesday. Won the world No. 1 alternate Hubert Hurkacz 7-6(1) 4-6 6-1 but, as he dropped a set, it meant that Sinner would be the man responsible for keeping him in the competition. The Italian must beat Holger Rune on Thursday night or Djokovic will be eliminated.
Hurkacz stepped in for Stefanos Tsitsipas after the world No. 6 retired from his second game on Tuesday and subsequently withdrew from the competition. With Tsitsipas’ 0-2 record, the Poles had no shot at getting out of the group but he was still playing for points and prizes.
Meanwhile, Djokovic stood on court knowing his place in the semi-finals would still depend on Thursday’s second singles match between Sinner and Hoger Rune. Won the world No.
The 36-year-old was seen stretching out his left thigh and back during moments of a tight first set, which saw no break points for either player before going to a break point. Djokovic was sublime when it mattered, racing to a 6-0 lead after too many mistakes from Hurkacz’s ruck. Got the world No. 9 back but it was too little too late as the top seed took it 7-6(1).
Djokovic’s level suddenly dropped with an uncharacteristic collapse midway through the second set. The six-time ATP Finals champion was broken at love, allowing Hurkacz to take a 4-2 lead in a nearly 14-minute affair in which Djokovic failed to win any points. He found himself back quickly and had two break points just a few games later but Hurkacz snuffed them out with two aces.
The 26-year-old managed to force a decision, taking the second set 6-4. It meant that the third set automatically became irrelevant, as Djokovic’s fate was suddenly in Sinner’s hands. By winning a set, Hurkacz promised to secure a place for Sins in the semi-finals.
Showing his champion spirit, Djokovic treated the final set like any other and was still hungry for another win on the board as he raised his level and frustrated Hurkacz. From 1-1, the top seed won the last five games in a row to end the week with two wins and one loss.
There is still no guarantee that Djokovic will make it out of the group to fight for a record-breaking seventh ATP Finals crown – even after a dominant final set. After the team released Hurkacz, the Nos. need Mac an Domhan.
But if Rune beats the Italian, Djokovic will be eliminated with Rune at the top of the group and Sinner in second place. If this is the end of the Serbian’s ATP Finals campaign, he will have one tournament left for the season – next week’s Davis Cup finals.
He is currently 53-6 in season matches and has so far picked up six titles across the Australian Open, French Open and US Open; the Cincinnati and Paris Masters; and the Adelaide International.
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