Novak Djokovic eases by Andrey Rublev, winning Green Group to secure his semi-final spot at the Nitto ATP Finals in Turin Wednesday.
The 20-time Grand Slam champion advanced into the final four for the 10th time at the event after defeating the world number five with a 6-3, 6-2 victory in one hour and 8 minutes.
The Serbian closed out the first set with an ace after 36 minutes, in which he fired nine winners (7 aces), six unforced errors, winning 88 percent of his first-service points to his adversary’s 63 percent.
Both players exchanged breaks of serves during the first games, with the 34-year-old dropping his opening service game but managing to take the lead while attacking and defending in exceptional form.
In the second set, the top seed dictated the rhythm breaking Rublev’s serve to lead 2-1. Under pressure, the fifth seed strived, recording a series of unforced errors.
At 4-2, Djokovic broke serve again, building up a solid 6-2 win, earning his 50th match win of the season.
After the match, he outlined: “It was quite a nervous start from both of us until 4-3, then with new balls I somehow managed to find the right shots at the right time.
“I made him play, crucially on the breakpoint at 4-3, when I managed to strike a good passing shot. Winning the first set, I put additional pressure on him, and I started to maybe play more consistently from the back of the court. I served well [and] that helped tremendously.
“I wanted to put him out of his comfort zone, taking away the time and mix up the pace. It was a great performance overall.”
On Friday, the Belgrade native will meet the second alternate Cameron Norrie.
Norrie is to fourth Brit to play singles in the event history; he will debut at the prestigious tournament on Wednesday evening, stepping in for Stefanos Tsitsipas, who has withdrawn due to a right elbow injury.
Speaking about his retirement, the Greek said: “I have taken the very difficult decision to retire from the 2021 [Nitto ATP] Finals due to my elbow injury, which has been bothering me for a couple of weeks now.
“It’s a very difficult decision from my side, and I was working really hard this year to get to play the Finals and be part of this amazing event, but unfortunately, I won’t be able to continue.”
The 2021 Indian Wells champion will first meet eighth seed, Casper Ruud, who lost to Djokovic in their opening match 6(4)-7, 2-6 on Monday.
In October, contesting their first meeting on Tour, Ruud faced the world No. 12 at the San Diego Open final, prevailing over the Briton 6-0, 6-2.