Novak Djokovic has mixed emotions after claiming a record-equalling sixth trophy for finishing as the ATP's year-end number one.

Djokovic achieved the feat for the sixth time in the past 10 years, matching American great Pete Sampras – who ended six successive years at the pinnacle of men's tennis between 1993 and 1998.

World number one and 17-time grand slam champion Djokovic has enjoyed a stellar 2020, capturing an eighth Australian Open crown and four titles amid a 39-3 match record this year.

Preparing to open his bid to win a record-equalling sixth ATP Finals trophy in London, where he will come up against Daniil Medvedev, Alexander Zverev and Diego Schwartzman in Group Tokyo 1970, Djokovic reflected on his season-ending accomplishment.

"I'm very happy," Djokovic told ATPTour.com. "It's been a strange year for all of us with a six months' gap for all of us.

"We restarted the season in August, and I continued where I left off before lockdown and had a terrific run. I'm very pleased with the way things went.

"I have to say a huge thank you to my team for supporting me in the hard time and trusting me. This is the crown for all achievements in the year and it’s unreal that I've managed to finish the year at number one for a sixth time.

"Obviously I am super proud of it, but I have mixed emotions because of what is going on in the world. I can't be ignorant to that, although I have achieved one of the biggest goals in sport.

"I feel for many people in the world going through hardship and my heart goes out to them."

Djokovic begins his ATP Finals campaign against Diego Schwartzman at The O2 Arena on Monday.

Rafael Nadal was in impressive form on Sunday as he beat Andrey Rublev in straight sets in his first match of the ATP Finals.

The Spaniard, who drew level with Roger Federer on 20 grand slam singles titles when he won last month's French Open, needed just under 78 minutes to defeat Rublev 6-3 6-4 in London and claim a first opening win at the event since 2015.

Making his first appearance at the Finals, Rublev struggled on his serve and hit 22 unforced errors to Nadal's 11.

Nadal, who qualified for a record 16th consecutive year-end championships, broke in game six of the first set before seeing it out with a love service game.

Rublev has been the most successful player on the Tour in 2020 in terms of titles, winning five, but he cut a defeated figure as soon as Nadal went a break up at the start of the second set.

The world number eight eventually settled into his serve but Nadal was impervious to a comeback, seeing out the victory with his second match point when Rublev returned long.

"I think it has been a positive start for me," he said. "Always, the first match is very tricky.

"Here, every match is difficult, you play against the best of the best so [I am] very happy. [I am] sorry for Rublo but I wish him the very best for the rest of the tournament. He had an amazing season even under these very difficult conditions. We had the season and he was able to win a lot of titles so it's an important victory for me."

Nadal faces Dominic Thiem next, the US Open champion having started his tournament with a three-set win over Stefanos Tsitsipas.

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS
Nadal: 14/11
Rublev: 18/22

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS
Nadal: 2/0
Rublev: 9/1

BREAK POINTS WON
Nadal: 2/5
Rublev: 0/0

Dominic Thiem beat Stefanos Tsitsipas in the opening match of the 2020 ATP Finals, clinching revenge for his defeat in the competition's final last year. 

Tsitsipas emerged victorious in three sets in the 2019 meeting and while this was a similarly well-contested match, it was Thiem who came out on top 7-6 (7-5) 4-6 6-3 this time. 

Thiem took the first set in a tiebreaker having generally looked the more threatening of the two, and although Tsitsipas fought back well in the second, the Austrian got the job done impressively to give the world number three a satisfying start that he feels could be vital. 

Speaking on court afterwards, Thiem said: "I experienced in the past four years how important it is to have a good start in this tournament, to ideally win the first match. I am very happy that I did it."

Tsitsipas was put under pressure on several occasions in the first set, forced to save three break points as he held firm to take Thiem into a tiebreak. 

He then looked in with a great chance of taking control of the match when going 4-1 up, but he lost his serve to see his lead quickly cut to 5-4, the first of four successive points rattled off by Thiem that sealed the set. 

Tsitsipas came out fighting in the second, however, taking Thiem to deuce in the latter's opening service game before then breaking at the second time of asking. That game proved decisive too, as he took the set 6-4. 

Yet any momentum from that soon vanished, Thiem quickly finding himself 3-0 up in the decider having dropped just three points as Tsitsipas' sole opportunity to break back went begging as he trailed 4-1. 

The rest of the contest went with serve, Thiem getting his campaign in Group London 2020 off to a winning start, with Rafael Nadal and Andrey Rublev the other two in the pool. 

 

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS  
Thiem: 37/30
Tsitsipas: 30/26

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS  
Thiem: 9/2
Tsitsipas: 8/1

BREAK POINTS WON  
Thiem: 1/4
Tsitsipas: 1/3

Jannik Sinner claimed his maiden title on the ATP Tour with a hard-fought victory over Vasek Pospisil at the Sofia Open.

The Italian teenager eventually prevailed 6-4 3-6 7-6 (7-3) on Saturday after two hours and 15 minutes on court in the Bulgarian capital.

Pospisil sent down 14 aces as he fought back impressively after losing the first set, the Canadian emphatically overcoming an early break of his serve in the second to level up proceedings.

There was little to split the pair in the decider, Sinner seizing the advantage in a tense tie-break when he forced a pair of errors out of his opponent and grasping his chance to be crowned champion.

At 19, Sinner becomes the youngest champion on the ATP Tour since an 18-year-old Kei Nishikori at the Delray Beach Open back in 2008.

He is also the youngest player from Italy to triumph at an event in the Open era, finishing a breakthrough 2020 season with an impressive 19-11 record.

World number one Novak Djokovic believes the ATP Finals is the toughest tournament to win due to the strength of the field.

Djokovic will begin his bid to win a record-equalling sixth Finals trophy in Group Tokyo 1970, which includes Daniil Medvedev, Alexander Zverev and Diego Schwartzman.

Rafael Nadal, defending champion Stefanos Tsitsipas, Dominic Thiem and Andrej Rublev are in Group London 2020 at O2 Arena.

The winner of 17 grand slams, Djokovic has enjoyed great success at major level, but the Serb star feels the season-ending London event is a tournament like no other.

"Over the years I had some thrilling matches here with Roger [Federer], Rafa [Nadal], with Andy [Murray] and all the guys now, the young guys coming in now on the tour," Djokovic, who last won the Finals in 2015, said.

"We had different winners which was great to see. We had [Grigor] Dimitrov, [Stefanos] Tsitsipas, [Alexander] Zverev, Andy [Murray] in '16. So we had four different winners in the last four years. I think it's wonderful for the game because collectively as part of the tennis system we want to promote as many players out there as possible because then the game benefits on the global level. Back in 2012 that was a big win against [Roger Federer]. I did have some big wins against Rafa in 2013, and then Roger again. 

"I've been very fortunate to enjoy a lot of success in O2 Arena and this tournament that probably is the most challenging tournament of the year or of the season because you start off by playing a top-eight player in the world right away. And every single match that you get to play, you play against one of the top-eight guys.

"So, already the second match can be against one of your biggest rivals in the group. So, yeah, that's the intensity that this tournament brings. But at the same time, I feel like it's making us all go into this competitive mode right away, from the first point. Which I personally like."

Djokovic, who has 39 victories this season and just three losses, will end the year top of the ATP Tour rankings.

He clinched his record-tying sixth year-end number one finish, ahead of rival Nadal.

"It is definitely always the highest goal and aspiration for me to end the year and the season as number one and try to stay there as long as possible," Djokovic continued. "It is very challenging, without a doubt, the most challenging goal that a player can have because you have to be able to play consistently well throughout the entire season on all different surfaces. 

"Obviously, this season is unusual and different from any other. We did have a five, six-month gap with no tournaments, but we still played quite a few tournaments at the beginning of the year and then the last three months. I'm just pleased, obviously, very pleased, and very proud to end this year and the season as number one.

"Although, I have mixed feelings a little bit, to be honest, because of the situation that we are in collectively as people of the world. I am obviously happy to be here, to be able to do my job and my passion, but I know there are millions of people that don't have that opportunity. So, I'm kind of somewhere in between with my emotions."

Rafael Nadal makes no excuse for his struggles on indoor courts but is hopeful he can end his wait to win the ATP Finals as the tournament is held in London for the final time. 

Nadal moved level with Roger Federer on 20 grand slam titles by winning his 13th French Open crown with a straight-sets defeat of Novak Djokovic at Roland Garros last month. 

However, while he has thrived on every outdoor surface throughout his storied career, he has won only two indoor titles. Glory has eluded him at the season-ending showpiece, which shifts to Turin in 2021. 

The Spaniard was runner-up in 2010 and 2013 and heads into this year's event with confidence after reaching the semi-finals of the Paris Masters. 

"We can find excuses or reasons but, at the end of the day, the numbers are the numbers," said Nadal of his indoor struggles. 

"I think I played less indoors than on the other surfaces, without a doubt. The indoor surfaces have not been the ideal surfaces for my tennis game since the beginning of my career. 

"I think I am able to play a little better in the past couple of years indoors than I did at the beginning of my tennis career, without a doubt, but [these are] the numbers. 

"I can't say something different. I hope to change that this week."

Nadal faces Andrey Rublev in his opening encounter at the O2 Arena, the Russian having won successive indoor titles in St Petersburg and Vienna last month. 

"I don't know how close I am to the perfect preparation," Nadal added. "I tried to fight hard in every single match in Bercy. 

"That put me in a position that I already played four matches on this surface and hopefully that can help me here, but there remains two days for me to practice here. 

"I hope to be ready to accept the challenge to play against such difficult opponents like Rublev in the first [match]."

Novak Djokovic avoided defending champion Stefanos Tsitsipas and third seed Dominic Thiem, who were both drawn alongside Rafael Nadal for the ATP Finals.

World number one Djokovic, who will be aiming to win the trophy for a record-equalling sixth time, will take on Daniil Medvedev, Alexander Zverev and Diego Schwartzman in Group Tokyo 1970.

The Serbian heads to London on the back of just his third defeat of the season – one of which was his default at the US Open – in the quarter-finals of the Vienna Open to Lorenzo Sonego.

Zverev won the title in 2018, while Medvedev is returning after his ATP Finals debut last year and Schwartzman has reached the event for the first time.

Nadal has qualified for the year-ending competition for a record 16th straight year but faces a tricky task in Group London 2020 alongside Thiem, Tsitsipas and Andrey Rublev.

Tsitsipas lost to Nadal in the group stage but beat Thiem in the final to win the competition last year, though the Austrian will hope to go one better after making his major breakthrough by going all the way at the US Open.

Like Schwartzman, Rublev is competing at the tournament for the first time.

The ATP Finals, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary, is scheduled to begin on Sunday.

Daniil Medvedev won the Paris Masters title after fighting back from a set down to defeat Alexander Zverev in Sunday's final.

The Russian's last appearance in a Tour-level championship match was 13 months ago, when he beat Zverev in straight sets at the Shanghai Masters.

This was a more competitive affair, at least in the opening hour, but it was Medvedev who triumphed 5-7 6-4 6-1 to lift his eighth career title.

He is the fourth Russian to win the tournament, after Marat Safin, Nikolay Davydenko and Karen Khachanov.

Medvedev had lost five times in eight matches in the build-up to this event but has found form on the hard courts of the French capital, dropping just one set en route to the final.

Zverev, who dispatched Rafael Nadal in straight sets in the semi-finals, continued that form in the first set on Sunday as he missed his mark just five times on his first serve.

Medvedev kept pace until game 12, when he saved two break points but not the third, Zverev letting out a roar as he took a step towards a third Tour title in a row.

Each man was backing up their serve with authority, although Zverev saved four break points in the third game of the second set as Medvedev began to find more rhythm from the baseline.

The world number five got his breakthrough at the next time of asking before holding to love to level the match, as Zverev's form began to falter.

The German seemed suddenly bereft of confidence as he surrendered his opening service game to love, and a double break soon put Medvedev in control.

A double fault from the German on the second match point gifted an impressive win to Medvedev, who will feel full of confidence ahead of the ATP Finals in London.

Rafael Nadal succumbed to the in-form Alexander Zverev, who booked his place in the Paris Masters final with an impressive  6-4 7-5 last-four triumph on Saturday.

Zverev became the first German in 25 years to reach the final of the tournament in the French capital to make it 21 wins from 23 matches since the start of the US Open.

The world number seven, who reached his first slam final at Flushing Meadows, has won 12 straight contests and the manner of his latest victory against the legendary Nadal will be particularly pleasing.

Nadal was aiming to match Novak Djokovic's record of 36 Masters 1000 titles this week but struggled to make a dent on his opponent, who won his opening eight service games.

Not for nothing is the Spaniard a 20-time grand slam winner, though, and a shift in return position initially left Zverev flummoxed as the second set was tied up at 4-4.

But Zverev – who served 13 aces throughout the match – kept his composure and broke in the final game of the second set to defeat Nadal for just the second time and reach a seventh final at this level.

Awaiting in a Sunday showdown is Daniil Medvedev, a man Zverev has beaten five times in six career ATP meetings against the Russian.

Rafael Nadal maintained his perfect record against Pablo Carreno Busta to reach the Paris Masters semi-finals and send Diego Schwartzman to the ATP Finals.

World number two Nadal is bidding to win the ATP Masters 1000 tournament for the first time and fought from a set down to triumph 4-6 7-5 6-1 and improve his record against his fellow Spaniard to 7-0.

With Schwartzman having lost his quarter-final against Daniil Medvedev 6-3 6-1 earlier on Friday, Carreno Busta needed to win back-to-back titles in Paris and Sofia to stop the Argentinian taking the last remaining qualifying spot for the season-ending tournament.

He appeared to have a significant chance of keeping his hopes alive when he engineered three break points at the start of the second set, but 20-time grand slam champion Nadal held firm and forced his way into a final-four meeting with Alexander Zverev or Stan Wawrinka.

Nadal came under early pressure on his serve and Carreno Busta took his second chance to break, his impressive groundstrokes proving difficult for his opponent to cope with.

Back-to-back brilliant backhands put him on the brink of going a set and a break up in the first game of the second, but Nadal dug in to hold and began to step through the gears.

Carreno Busta showed impressive resilience to keep the contest on serve in games two and eight, before a wicked forehand down the line forced the match to a decider.

The ninth seed was broken to love in game four of the decider and won just two more points as Nadal surged to victory.

In the other semi-final Medvedev will take on Milos Raonic after the Russian took just 63 minutes to dispatch of Schwartzman.

Things were not as easy for Raonic, who staved off two match points and sent down 25 aces as he overcame Ugo Humbert 6-3 3-6 7-6 (9-7).

The Canadian saved all three of the break points he faced in the third set – and five out of six overall – and closed out the victory with a final ace.

Rafael Nadal insists he will never stop trying to improve his game in a stark warning to Paris Masters quarter-final opponent Pablo Carreno Busta. 

A day on from beating Feliciano Lopez for his 1,000th ATP Tour-level victory, Nadal saw off Jordan Thompson in straight sets on Thursday.

The Spaniard lost just 12 points on his serve in his first meeting with world number 61 Thompson, who hauled down his racket after failing to win a set point in the second, which Nadal subsequently won on a tie-break.

Yet despite another impressive showing in Bercy, Nadal believes he still has work to do if he is to overcome compatriot Busta, who beat Norbert Gombos 7-5 6-2.

"I want to improve everything, always," the world number two said after his 6-1 7-6 (7-3) triumph. "But that's the work of every day, no? Try to fix the things that I think I can do it better, and hold the things that I am doing well, no?

"So I think I am not doing a lot of things bad. I just didn't play in indoors for a year almost, and is part of the process of course. I need to keep going. I think these kind of matches helps. Yesterday's match, today's, tomorrow is another opportunity.

"These matches are an important test for me to keep improving, so I really believe and hope that it's going to help me to improve. I think I'm playing well. I just think I need to win more matches on this surface.

"I need to be ready to play my best against an opponent that I know is playing well and with confidence. I hope to be ready to play my game and really read well, because that's what I'm going to need."

WAWRINKA AND ZVEREV BATTLE THROUGH

Nadal is into the Paris Masters quarters for an eighth time but the 34-year-old has only reached the final on one previous occasion, losing to David Nalbandian in 2007.

Should he overcome his compatriot Busta on Friday, one of Alexander Zverev or Stan Wawrinka await in the semi-finals.

Fourth-seeded Zverev needed three hours to overcome unseeded Adrian Mannarino 7-6 (13-11) 6-7 6-4, saving set points in each of the first two sets.

Zverev wasted a set point of his own in a tie-breaker as the German was taken all the way to a decider, which he won by breaking Mannarino in the ninth game.

Chasing a third title of the year, Zverev will now face Wawrinka in the last eight after the Swiss battled from behind to beat Andrey Rublev 1-6 6-4 6-3.

Rublev broke his opponent three times to take the first set inside 32 minutes, but Wawrinka held in the second to level up a match that went on past midnight local time.

World number eight Rublev had won 11 matches in a row but he struggled to cope with Wawrinka in the third set, losing serve in the first and ninth games to bring his participation to an end.

Rafael Nadal will face Pablo Carreno Busta in an all-Spanish Paris Masters quarter-final after beating Jordan Thompson in straight sets.

Nadal needed three sets to secure the 1,000th ATP Tour-level victory of his career at the expense of Feliciano Lopez on Wednesday.

The top seed followed that up with a 6-1 7-6 (7-3) defeat of world number 61 Thompson in Bercy, reaching the quarter-finals of the tournament for an eighth time out of eight.

Nadal lost just 12 points behind his serve as Thompson failed to break the 20-time grand slam champion in the first meeting between the two on Thursday.

Ninth seed Carreno Busta stands in the way of Nadal and a place in the last four, as one of the all-time greats attempts to win the tournament for the first time.

Nadal was up against it in a battle with veteran Lopez before sealing a landmark win, but there was no slow start from the legendary left-hander in his third-round contest.

He held to love in the first game and in the fifth, then took a 5-1 lead with a deft volley at the net after drilling a rasping return and an inside-out forehand to Thompson's left.

The world number two wrapped up the set in only 32 minutes by winning a fifth consecutive game, but it was a different story in the second as Australian Thompson warmed to the task.

Thompson threw down his racket and was shaking his head after failing to win a set point before Nadal took it to a tie-break, which he won with a combination of thunderous winners and errors from his opponent.

Rafael Nadal joked that the only negative of bringing up his 1,000th career win was that it means he is now "very old".

Nadal landed the landmark singles win of his career as he came from a set down to defeat Feliciano Lopez 4-6 7-6 (7-5) 6-4 at the Paris Masters.

Wednesday's clash was the first time Nadal has played since he claimed his 13th French Open title last month.

The 34-year-old now sits fourth on the list of players with the most wins in the Open Era, behind Jimmy Connors, Roger Federer and Ivan Lendl.

Though proud of his long career, Nadal did point out one negative to reaching the milestone.

"Of course [I am proud] but there is one negative thing and that is that you are very old to get to 1000, you are very old," Nadal told reporters.

"Because to win 1000 matches you have to have a long career, but I am super happy. To arrive at that number means I did a lot of things well over a long time.

"Thanks to everybody – the ATP, to the French Federation, to everybody, my uncle, it's not the same without the crowd.

"I am proud of a lot of things honestly, but I faced some challenges in my career, ball injuries and I always have the passion to keep going and the dedication and humility to accept the challenges when things don't go the way you expect.

"Of course it's a big achievement to be playing at the age of 34 and at the same time still being competitive is still something very important for me and makes me feel proud and happy and proud about all the things that, not just me, the whole team have achieved."

Nadal, who has never won the Paris Masters, was imperious at Roland Garros, but looked far less assured at the Bercy Arena.

Lopez made a strong start, with a break of serve in the opening game resulting in him taking the first set, but Nadal hit back by edging a tie-break and then breaking his compatriot – who he has a 14-10 winning record against – at the start of the decider.

"It was very tough match, I started in the worst way possible with the break against him," Nadal added.

"It's difficult as you are under pressure the whole match. I am very happy to finally find a way to win because you don't want to be in a tie-break for the whole match against a big server like Feliciano and a very good player from the baseline, especially on this surface."

Rafael Nadal landed the 1,000th singles win of his career as he survived an early scare at the Paris Masters.

Nadal's fellow Spaniard Feliciano Lopez went close to a major upset as the veteran pushed him all the way, but Nadal came through 4-6 7-6 (7-5) 6-4.

After sweeping to French Open glory last month without dropping a set, Wednesday's match marked Nadal's return to action and it took him two hours and 30 minutes to get the job done.

He sits fourth on the list of players with the most wins in the Open Era, behind Jimmy Connors, Roger Federer and Ivan Lendl.

There were also victories for Alexander Zverev, Diego Schwartzman, Milos Raonic and Alex de Minaur. while Daniil Medvedev went through after opponent Kevin Anderson retired due to injury during a first-set tie-break.

Away from clay, Nadal looks vulnerable in Paris

Nadal was imperious at Roland Garros, roaring through the draw on the way to his 13th French Open title.

Across town, at the Bercy Arena, it has been a different story throughout Nadal's career.

The indoor hard-court event is one he has never won and has often skipped, with this just his eighth appearances in the main draw, and this was almost a brief visit as Lopez made a storming start.

Lopez managed what nobody could at Roland Garros by swiping that first set after a break of serve in the opening game of the match, but 20-time grand slam winner Nadal stepped up his game to reach the last-16 stage and chalk up a landmark win.

The 39-year-old Lopez saved five break points in the second set to earn a tie-break, only for Nadal to edge it and then break serve for the first time at the outset of the decider.

With his hard-fought success, Nadal, 34, extended his head-to-head winning record to 10-4 against Lopez, with their rivalry having begun on an indoor carpet court in Basel back in 2003.

Likely challengers come through

German fourth seed Zverev swept to a 6-2 6-2 win against Serbian Miomir Kecmanovic, while Schwartzman swatted away Richard Gasquet, landing a 7-5 6-3 win over the Frenchman.

There was more disappointment for French hopes as Pierre-Hugues Herbert lost 6-4 6-4 to Canadian Raonic, and Russian Medvedev was embroiled in a battle with Anderson when the South African pulled out of the contest.

Sonego's early exit

Lorenzo Sonego arrived in Paris off the back of a successful week in Vienna, where he knocked out Novak Djokovic in the quarter-finals and went on to finish runner-up to Andrey Rublev.

This week will linger less in the memory for the Italian, who went down 6-3 7-5 to De Minaur.

Stefanos Tsitsipas saw his interest in the Paris Masters ended at the earliest opportunity in a second-round defeat to Ugo Humbert after three tie-breaks on Tuesday.

Second seed Tsitsipas had a bye through the first round before starting his run against Humbert, but a 7-6 (7-4) 6-7 (6-8) 7-6 (7-3) reverse means the Greek can already turn his attention towards defending his ATP Finals title.

A topsy-turvy affair was ultimately settled in Humbert's favour, although the 22-year-old looked to have ceded the initiative late in the second set.

Having battled back from a break down to take the opener, Humbert squandered three match points in the second tie-break in a remarkable collapse.

But the world number 34 - enjoying a fine year with breakthrough titles in Auckland and Antwerp - steadied himself again at the start of the decider.

Humbert once more let a lead slip but this time recovered to see out yet another breaker and claim his second career top-10 win before hailing his own mental fortitude after a marathon match lasting three hours and 17 minutes.

"I'm super happy, super proud of myself," he said. "I was mentally very strong to win this match against Tsitsipas, one of the best players in the world."

Tsitsipas added: "His serve was very consistent. Despite having opportunities where he would serve second serves [and] I could come in, be more aggressive, it didn't seem as easy as I had it planned in my head."

Humbert was one of four Frenchmen to win on Tuesday, although fellow home hopefuls Gilles Simon and Corentin Moutet exited the tournament, the latter's positive COVID-19 test granting Marin Cilic - Humbert's next opponent - a walkover.

Tsitsipas' loss came after the departure of eighth seed David Goffin, beaten in straight sets by Norbert Gombos.

Kevin Anderson advanced to face Daniil Medvedev after Laslo Djere retired, while John Millman failed to build on his first ATP Tour title win in Astana as he lost to Miomir Kecmanovic.

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.