Novak Djokovic loses first match in four months in dramatic Jannik Sinner ATP Finals clash | Tennis | Sport

Novak Djokovic loses first match in four months in dramatic Jannik Sinner ATP Finals clash | Tennis | Sport

Jannik Sinner ended Novak Djokovic’s 19-match winning streak, handing him his first loss since the Wimbledon final four months ago. The home favourite got his first-ever win over the world No 1 7-5 6-7(5) 7-6(2) to make it out of the group stage. It also marks Djokovic’s first defeat at the ATP Finals since 2021. Neither man has been able to book their spot in the semi-finals, meaning it will go down to the wire with Thursday’s round-robin matches.

There was a football stadium atmosphere inside the Pala Aplitour as home hope Sinner stepped out onto the court for his highly anticipated showdown with Djokovic. The chants of his name started during the warm-up as the fans showed the world No 1 that they would be backing their man all night.

When the groups were set for the season-ending championships, the Djokovic and Sinner match was one that everyone circled as it marked the first hard-court meeting between two of the most in-form players. And they didn’t disappoint as the first 15 points of the match went the way of the server, showing just how well they’d have to play to try and get any opportunities.

It was six-time champion Djokovic who had the first chance to break in the sixth game of the match. The chants of “ole Sinner” quickly returned when the world No 4 shut the door with some clever point construction to hold for 3-3. Sinner had a break point of his own in the very next game but the top seed saved it with a huge serve.

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After leading 40-0 on his serve at 5-5, Djokovic suddenly found himself at deuce and handed Sinner a break point with a double fault. The 36-sarcastically clapped the crowd when they cheered his mistake and found himself jeered in response before Sinner managed to get the first break of the match, serving out the high-quality first set 7-5 after 57 minutes.

The second set was even more closely contested than the first, with neither man creating any break point chances. Djokovic raised some concerns when he called the physio while leading 4-3 and had his neck rubbed but he continued to dominate in his service games. The 24-time Grand Slam champion got involved with the crowd again when he queried a ball mark with the umpire, waving them on as more boos rang out.

They headed into a tiebreak, where seven of the first ten points went against the server. It was Djokovic who earned set points first, taking a 6-4 lead with a costly error from Sinner’s forehand. The Italian saved the first but it was on Djokovic’s racket at 6-5 and he was able to force a decider, refusing to go away.

Once again they went to a tiebreak, this time to decide the match but it was a very different story, with Sinner taking things to another level with some huge returns to secure a double mini-break advantage. He raced to a 5-0 lead and finally got the job done after three hours and nine minutes of pure drama and quality tennis, while the crowd once again chanted his name in celebration.

Sinner needed to win in straight sets to make it out of the group and secure a place in the semi-final, while Djokovic just needed to win the match. With a three-set victory going the way of the Italian, it means that Sinner, Djokovic and Holger Rune are all still in contention for the semi-finals and the two spots will depend on the results of Thursday’s round-robin matches.

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