Novak Djokovic felt he had produced "a great performance" to cruise past Andrey Rublev and reach the last four at the ATP Finals in Turin.

A 6-3 6-2 triumph for Djokovic in just 68 minutes on Wednesday moved him into the semi-finals with a match to spare.

Djokovic will face alternate Cameron Norrie on Friday already knowing he will finish top of the Green Group after straight-sets wins over Casper Ruud and Rublev this week.

The Serbian dropped serve in the first game of the match against world number five Rublev but had few problems from then on.

Victory took Djokovic to 50 wins on the ATP Tour this season. He has been beaten just six times in 2021 and is now two victories away from a record-equalling sixth ATP Finals success. 

The 34-year-old has won 12 of his 13 matches since the start of the US Open, losing only to Daniil Medvedev – his main rival for glory again here – in the final of that competition.

"It was a great performance overall," said Djokovic, who won 27 of 31 points on his first serve and had 14 aces to zero double faults. 

"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.

"I knew that I had to be on my toes and start well.

"I dropped my serve again like in the first match against Ruud. 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. Winning the first set I put additional pressure on him, and I started to maybe play more consistently from the back of the court."

Rather than 2019 winner Stefanos Tsitsipas, who has withdrawn with an elbow injury, Briton Norrie is up next for the world number one at the ATP Finals.

"I always like playing new players, particularly in one of the greatest tournaments in the world here in Turin," added Djokovic.

"Cameron deserves to be here, it is not lucky. He worked his way to Turin with great wins in Indian Wells and some other tournaments.

"So it will be fun to watch him play against Ruud and I will get ready for my next match."

Djokovic has now made the last four of the ATP Finals on 10 occasions, with this being his 40th career win in the tournament (16 defeats).

Novak Djokovic secured his spot in Saturday's semi-finals with a straight-sets victory over Andrey Rublev at the ATP Finals in Turin.

The world number one claimed a 6-3 6-2 win over world number five Rublev in the first-ever meeting between the two on Wednesday.

Djokovic confirmed his place as winner of the Green Group with his second consecutive victory, having also beaten Casper Ruud in straight sets in his opening match on Monday.

Despite Rublev's ranking, Djokovic dispatched his opponent in one hour and eight minutes as he raced to a 40th career ATP Finals victory and his 50th on tour this year.

The start of the match was close as the Russian broke Djokovic in the opening game, but the world number one responded in kind in the next game and eventually eased away to win the first set 6-3 as Rublev made some costly unforced errors. 

The second set was decided in similar fashion, with Rublev fading as Djokovic, who faces Cameron Norrie in his last round-robin match on Friday, broke twice to comfortably claim the victory.

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS 

Djokovic – 19/8
Rublev – 18/26

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS 

Djokovic – 14/0
Rublev – 6/1

BREAK POINTS WON 

Djokovic – 4/6
Rublev – 1/1

Roger Federer has confirmed he will not participate at the Australian Open and said he would be "extremely surprised" if he is fit enough to play at Wimbledon.

The 20-time grand slam winner has played just 13 matches in 2021 as he recovers from a third knee surgery in the space of 18 months, with Federer's last appearance a disappointing straight-sets loss to Hubert Hurkacz in the quarter-finals at SW19 in July.

The Swiss great has now officially confirmed he will not be at Melbourne Park for the first grand slam of 2022, while it remains touch-and-go whether Federer will be back at Wimbledon this year.

"At the moment, I expect to be able to return in the summer of 2022," he told Tribune de Geneve having confirmed playing in Australia is out of the question. 

"The next four or five months are crucial. In the spring, I will already see things much more clearly. The truth is that I would be incredibly surprised if I were to play again at Wimbledon [in 2022]."

"When you get right down to it, it doesn't make much difference whether I return in 2022 or not until 2023, at 40 or 41. It doesn't matter. The question is rather will I manage to torture myself again day after day for my comeback?

"My heart says 'yes' today. So, I'm taking things step by step. I have experienced similar challenges many times in my career sometimes without the public being aware of it. Even though I know that the end is near, I want to try to play some big matches again. It won't be easy but I will try."

 

Now aged 40, Federer's latest injury setback led to suggestions he could call time on his glittering career, though his coach Ivan Ljubicic this week said he was not contemplating such a decision.

Federer accepts he may never play in a grand slam final again and is at peace with that fact, but still "believes in these miracles" as he aims to once again compete among the elite level.

"If I do my rehabilitation intensively, there is a chance that I will get back to a high level," he added. 

"If I do strength training, go on the bike, swim, do balance exercises, work on my upper body, then I believe in it.

"Will I return to the Tour for a smaller round or for something bigger? Nobody knows, neither the doctors nor me. But I'm fighting for it. To be clear, my world will not collapse if I never play another grand slam final.

"But it is my ultimate dream to return once again. And in fact, I still believe in it. I believe in these kinds of miracles. I have already experienced them. 

"Sports history sometimes writes such miracles. I am realistic – it would be a great miracle but there are miracles in sport."

Jannik Sinner capitalised on an unexpected ATP Finals opportunity by beating Hubert Hurkacz in straight sets on his debut.

Matteo Berrettini's withdrawal due to injury meant Sinner stepped in as a late replacement for his fellow Italian, and the 20-year-old rose to the occasion with a 6-2 6-2 victory in Turin.

Daniil Medvedev is already assured of a place in the semi-finals, and Sinner could join the defending champion in qualifying from the Red Group following a commanding bow at the Pala Alpitour.

The first alternate raised the roof on home soil, with Hurkacz unable to break his serve as the seventh seed from Poland suffered back-to-back defeats to prop up the group.

Sinner, a winner of four titles in a stellar season, broke twice in each set and won 74 per cent of points behind his first serve as he took centre stage soon after he might have been a spectator.

The world number 11 said: "I knew around 5[pm] that I would play. I was ready to go on court. It is an incredible feeling playing here in Italy with thousands of people cheering for you, and I am trying my best. I will enjoy the moment. I played well and felt good in the warm-up. It was an incredible match."

Sinner could move into the last four if he beats Medvedev or if Alexander Zverev is beaten by Hurkacz on Thursday.   WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS 

Sinner – 17/11
Hurkacz – 14/14

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS 

Sinner – 5/0
Hurkacz – 4/0

BREAK POINTS WON 

Sinner – 4/6
Hurkacz – 0/5

Jannik Sinner will replace Matteo Berrettini in the ATP Finals, meaning Daniil Medvedev has to prepare for a different opponent than planned.

Medvedev made it two wins from two in Turin as he fought to a 6-3 6-7 (3-6) 7-6 (8-6) victory over Alexander Zverev on Tuesday.

That win sealed the defending champion's place in the semi-finals, and he will now aim to maintain his momentum when he returns to the court for his final group game.

However, he will not face Berrettini as initially scheduled, after the Italian world number seven was forced to withdraw with an injury he sustained against Zverev on Sunday.

Berrettini had to retire from that match, and compatriot Sinner will replace him.

Sinner's first match will be against Hubert Hurkacz in a repeat of the Miami Open final – the Pole claiming his maiden ATP Masters 1000 title on that occasion.

Hurkacz lost his first match of his debut Finals, going down to Medvedev, who was made to work harder against Zverev.

"Definitely one of the matches to remember," Medvedev said after his win over the German. "When you win 8-6 in the tie-break in the third...

"It was 4-2 for him, so I was like okay, he serves a few aces, it's done. I made it 6-4, and I was like okay, that's my moment now. 

"Just an amazing feeling. Not actually much to say about the match, just amazing.

"Sometimes that's how tennis is. You just try to do your best. Sometimes luck is on your side, sometimes not. Sometimes it's more than just luck. I just try to do my best, and I'm really happy the past seven matches went in my favour."

Daniil Medvedev eventually overcame Alexander Zverev in a high-quality contest to record his second win of this year's ATP Finals.

The Russian sealed a 6-3 6-7 (3-7) 7-6 (8-6) victory in a tight encounter in which there was only one break of serve, which came in the first game of the match for Medvedev in Turin.

Exactly a year to the day since the two faced each other in the same tournament in London, it looked like history might repeat itself to an even greater extent as Medvedev won the first set 6-3, as he had done in 2020 in a straight-sets win.

The defending champion was dominating from the baseline, but the second set saw a drastic improvement from Zverev, who hit 13 aces having managed just one in the first set.

The German could still not get close to breaking the Medvedev serve, but was able to win the tie-break to level things up.

The third set followed a similar pattern, almost inevitably ending with another tie-break. Despite saving two match points, Zverev could do nothing about the third as Medvedev secured the win and he will qualify if Hubert Hurkacz beats Matteo Berrettini in Red Group later on Tuesday.

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS 

Medvedev – 36/27
Zverev – 48/25

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS 

Medvedev – 14/1
Zverev – 18/2

BREAK POINTS WON 

Medvedev – 1/4
Zverev – 0/4

Nick Kyrgios believes the Australian Open should be cancelled as he threw his support behind rival Novak Djokovic, insisting the COVID-19 vaccine mandate is "morally wrong".

It remains to be seen whether world number one Djokovic will defend his Australian Open title in Melbourne in January due to vaccination requirements.

The state of Victoria, where the year's opening grand slam takes place at Melbourne Park, has introduced a vaccine mandate for professional athletes and across most industries amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The 2021 Australian Open went ahead, albeit in February instead of January, and without fans for most of the tournament following a snap lockdown of Melbourne due to COVID-19.

Djokovic was among the players critical of the conditions athletes endured prior to this year's Australian Open, with strict quarantine measures introduced.

Kyrgios and Djokovic have clashed in the past, but the former backed the nine-time Australian Open champion as he called for the upcoming grand slam to be scrapped.

"I don't think the Aus Open should go ahead, just for the people in Melbourne – you’ve got to send a message," Australian former world number 13 Kyrgios said on his 'No Boundaries' podcast.

"How long did [Melbourne] do in lockdown? 275 days or something?"

Kyrgios also referenced Brooklyn Nets star and NBA champion Kyrie Irving, who is yet to feature this season due to his refusal to be vaccinated against coronavirus, which is preventing him from practicing or playing – New York has a mandate in place that states players must have had a COVID-19 jab.

Kyrgios – an Australian Open quarter-finalist in 2015 – added: "Kyrie, Novak … These guys have given so much, sacrificed so much. They are global athletes who millions of people look up to.

"I just think it is so morally wrong to force someone to be vaccinated.

"I'm double vaccinated, but I just don't think it's right to force anyone [to be vaccinated] and say 'you can't come and play here because you're not vaccinated'.

"There are other solutions around it, [such as] to get tested every day. In the [United] States I know they've got rapid tests, and it's coming to Australia. It's 85 per cent success rate, you wait 15 minutes and then you're allowed to play."

Victorian sports minister Martin Pakula hit back on Tuesday, telling reporters: "I really like Nick Kyrgios and I cheer for him every time he plays and I certainly don't want to have beef with Nick Kyrgios but I actually couldn't follow the logic of his comments. We've had a long lockdown so the Australian Open shouldn't proceed? I'm not sure I follow that.

"I think the opposite applies. Melburnians, Victorians and, frankly all Australians, are absolutely gagging for major events. Our economy needs it, our state psyche needs it. It's a global grand slam, it's going to go ahead."

Novak Djokovic "feels amazing" after surpassing Pete Sampras for the year-end number one record on the ATP Tour.

Djokovic was presented with the trophy for finishing the year ranked number one for the seventh time after defeating Casper Ruud 7-6 (7-4) 6-2 in his ATP Finals opener on Monday, breaking a tie with idol Sampras.

A 20-time grand slam champion – a joint record held alongside Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer, Djokovic revelled in his latest achievement.

"It feels amazing and it feels even better when you win a match and then get your hands on the trophy that I have been blessed to lift seven times," Djokovic said in Turin.

"[I have won] one more than Pete Sampras, who was my childhood hero. He was the one that got me into tennis. He was also an inspiration to me and I dreamt of being a Wimbledon champion and World No. 1 like he was.

"Fast forwarding to today, it is quite amazing to be in this position. I am very grateful. It is something I am very much appreciating and not taking for granted."

World number one Djokovic is looking for his sixth ATP Finals title, though his last success came in 2016.

Djokovic produced a confident performance in his opening match against Ruud, dropping just four points behind his first serve and rallying from a break down in a tight opening set.

The top seed – who tied Ivan Lendl for second-most wins (39) in the history of the ATP Finals – will also face Stefanos Tsitsipas and Andrey Rublev in the Green Group.

"It was a really terrible start, but also funny because I’m still trying to figure out what happened," Djokovic said. "Casper started strong. He was serving well. The altitude, fast court, fast balls – it favours big servers. I knew he had a solid serve, but maybe not as good as Medvedev or Zverev. 

"He did positively surprise me with this serve, particularly in the first set. I just managed to read it better in the second set. But it was a close one."

Djokovic, meanwhile, expressed his shock amid the unknown whereabouts of WTA player Peng Shuai.

The Women's Tennis Association (WTA) has opened an investigation into Peng's sexual assault allegations against a former China leader.

Shuai, 35, posted on Chinese social media site Weibo allegations against Zhang Gaoli – the ex-vice premier and member of the Chinese Communist Party's Politburo Standing Committee – claiming he had forced her to have sexual relations with him.

In the post, published on Tuesday before subsequently being deleted, the 2013 Wimbledon doubles champion alleged that the pair had extramarital relations and she had developed feelings for him.

All of Peng's content has since been removed from Weibo and numerous reports suggest she has not been seen in recent days.

"I did hear about it a week ago. Honestly, it's shocking that she's missing, more so that it's someone that I have seen on the tour in the previous years quite a few times," said Djokovic.

"It's not much more to say than hope that she will be found, that she's okay. It's terrible … I can imagine just how her family feels that she's missing."

Andrey Rublev returned to form by downing Stefanos Tsitsipas in their first match of the ATP Finals in Turin on Monday. 

Rublev had only won two of his past seven contests before arriving at the season-ending tournament at the Pala Alpitour but saw off fourth seed Tsitsipas 6-4 6-4. 

The fifth seed from Russia gained sweet revenge, having lost to his Greek opponent in this event in London last year. 

Rublev did not face a break point as he levelled his head-to-head record with Tsitsipas at 4-4 with a statement win. 

The Moscow native won 90 per cent of points behind his first serve and broke Tsitsipas once in each set, sealing victory in an hour and a half. 

Rublev joined world number one Novak Djokovic at the top of the Green Group on a night to forget for Tsitsipas. 

 

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS 

Rublev – 31/7
Tsitsipas – 31/17

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS 

Rublev – 9/3
Tsitsipas– 12/2

BREAK POINTS WON 

Rublev – 2/7
Tsitsipas – 0/0

Novak Djokovic made a confident start to his ATP Finals with a straight-sets victory over Casper Ruud in Turin.

The world number one is looking for his sixth ATP Finals title, though his last success came in 2016, and he overcame his Norwegian opponent 7-6 (7-4) 6-2 on Monday.

Ruud showed glimpses of the form that saw him become the first Norwegian to qualify for the season-ending tournament, but despite coming close to edging the first set, he never looked like upsetting the Serbian, who recently clinched the year-end number one ranking for a record seventh time.

It started well enough for the 22-year-old, breaking Djokovic in the first game and going 2-0 up before the crowd had settled.

His opponent soon recovered to break back, showing some of his trademark steel to come out on top in the longer rallies. Ruud was able to take the first set to a tie-break, but Djokovic secured it with a beautiful forehand-winner down the line.

Ruud pulled off some impressive winners himself on occasion, with some nice drop shots in particular, but he was rarely able to keep up with the number one seed's pace and power.

Djokovic won 20 of 21 first-serve points in the opening set, and his overall performance stepped up another notch in the second as he returned the favour to Ruud by breaking him in the first game.

The result was never in doubt from there, with Djokovic dominating on his serve again, only failing to get his first serve in once in the second set.

Ruud did not manage another break point after the opening game of the match and was forced to see his opponent comfortably serve out to open his tournament with a victory.

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS 

Djokovic – 23/13
Ruud – 23/20

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS 

Djokovic – 10/0
Ruud – 9/4

BREAK POINTS WON 

Djokovic – 3/5
Ruud – 1/1

There was agony for Matteo Berrettini as he was forced to retire in his first match of the ATP Finals against Alexander Zverev on home soil.

Italian Berrettini appeared to suffer an abdominal injury when trailing 1-0 in the second set after Zverev won the first 7-6 (9-7) in their opening Red Group match in Turin on Sunday.

Sixth seed Berrettini dropped his racket and put his head in his hands as he grimaced after crashing a forehand into the net and underwent lengthy treatment to his left side.

The world number seven attempted to continue, but was clearly in pain as he served and duly brought the contest to an end at the Pala Alpitour.

Berrettini cut an emotional figure and was embraced by Zverev before being given a great ovation as he trudged off the court, with his opponent standing to applaud.

Zverev had saved two set points in the opening set and came from 5-3 down in the breaker to edge in front before the match came to a premature end.

 

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS 

Zverev – 21/9
Berrettini– 16/23

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS 

Zverev – 10/1
Berrettini – 5/0

BREAK POINTS WON 

Zverev – 0/5
Berrettini – 0/2

Daniil Medvedev got his ATP Finals title defence started in impressive fashion as he came from behind to defeat Hubert Hurkacz.

In the first match of the singles draw in Turin, Medvedev overcame a difficult start to ultimately cruise to a 6-7 (5-7) 6-3 6-4 win over the Wimbledon semi-finalist.

Hurkacz showed flashes of his quality, but made 17 unforced errors to Medvedev's eight as the second seed did not offer up a single break point.

Medvedev, who did not win a match in his debut at the tournament in 2019, tops the Red Group, which also includes Alexander Zverev and Matteo Berrettini.

Hurkacz's aggressive net play saw him make the breakthrough in the first set tie-break, with neither player having offered up a single break point during the opener.

The Pole did lose three successive points to go from 6-2 up to 6-5 before eventually taking the set at the fourth time of asking.

Yet Medvedev controlled things in set two, breaking early to nose himself ahead, with Hurkacz losing the composure he had shown in the opening exchanges.

Medvedev took the set at the third opportunity, and Hurkacz's frustration followed into the decider as the Russian breezed into a 2-0 lead.

Hurkacz offered a reminder of his class with a deft volley that left Medvedev with too much to do, yet the world number nine slipped up with a similar shot in the next game to give his opponent the edge.

Despite battling back from 0-30 down to hold serve and keep himself in the match, Hurkacz did not have an answer for Medvedev's power, as the world number two served out a relatively routine win.

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS 

Medvedev – 31/8
Hurkacz – 31/17

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS 

Medvedev – 15/1
Hurkacz – 12/0

BREAK POINTS WON 

Medvedev – 2/4
Hurkacz – 0/0

Roger Federer is unlikely to compete at next year's Australian Open, but the 20-time grand slam champion is not yet thinking of retirement, so says coach Ivan Ljubicic.

Federer has endured an injury-hit two seasons. After reaching the semi-finals at the 2020 Australian Open, the Swiss star underwent knee surgery, with a complication in his recovery leading him to take the rest of the year off.

That prolonged rehabilitation, plus the strict COVID-19 regulations in Australia, meant he did not compete in Melbourne earlier this year, but Federer returned to the ATP Tour in Qatar in March.

He went on to reach the last 16 of the French Open, losing to Matteo Berrettini, and the quarter-finals at Wimbledon, where he went out to Hubert Hurkacz.

However, he has not featured since then after undergoing surgery for another knee problem sustained on the grass-court circuit.

With Australia's tight coronavirus restrictions still in place, it is unclear whether Novak Djokovic, who has tied level with Federer and Rafael Nadal on 20 major wins, will compete in Melbourne early in 2022.

Nadal, too, has not yet confirmed his participation, and with Ljubicic suggesting Federer will not be fit in time, all three greats could be missing from next year's first grand slam.

"I think there are very few chances, he is still recovering and knowing him he wants to be sure he can play to win the tournament and be at 100 per cent," Ljubicic said.

"So I think Australian Open is not a real possibility right now. But he will go step by step because he is 40 years old and he needs to be patient. He cannot recover as quickly as he used to."

 

Despite doubts over his participation in Australia, and the time he has spent away from the court in the past two years, Federer is not considering retirement just yet.

"We have spoken and I can guarantee he wants to return playing tennis," Ljubicic added. "When he will decide to stop, he will retire, but I don't think it's going to happen all of a sudden."

Ljubicic is only two years Federer's senior and, as a player, reached a high of world number three back in 2006. He has coached Federer since 2016, helping him to three grand slam titles.

"Many times I found myself wondering what am I doing here? But in the end I hope and I think I was able to help him in those few moments he needed in the right way at the right time," Ljubicic said.

"There's always a risk when you meet your idol in person, as you may discover something you don't like, but with him, it is not the case. With him, there are no risks, he really is an extraordinary person. 

"I have been lucky enough to live beside him in the past six years and I enjoyed it very much. I really have fun with him. Is it difficult? No, it's just beautiful. When we discuss tennis, I ask myself: why he is paying me?"

Carlos Alcaraz rounded off a superb 2021 by claiming the ATP Next Gen Finals title with a straight-sets victory over Sebastian Korda.

Alcaraz produced a performance in keeping with a breakthrough year for the Spaniard, prevailing 4-3 (7-5) 4-2 4-2 in Milan.

It marked Alcaraz's 32nd tour-level win of a year that also saw him reach the quarter-finals of the US Open.

The 18-year-old is the youngest player to claim 32 wins in a year since 1992, when Andrei Medvedev achieved the feat at 18.

Alcaraz faced five break points in his first two service games but had to stave off just one more the rest of the way.

He did fall 0-30 behind when serving for the match, yet Korda could not deny Alcaraz his second Tour title of the year.

"It is amazing," Alcaraz said in his on-court interview. "To be able to win this tournament means a lot to me.

"I am so excited right now and emotional. I was very, very nervous at the start.

"I had to be calm to save the break points. I know Korda is serving very well, so I had to play my best in those moments.

"It went 0-30 on my serve. So I had to be focused in that moment and I had to stay calm. It was really, really tough."

Andy Murray believes his game will improve in the off-season after the former world number one's 2021 campaign came to an end at the Stockholm Open.

Murray stunned top seed Jannik Sinner on Wednesday, however, the three-time grand slam champion lost 6-2 3-6 6-3 to Tommy Paul in Thursday's quarter-final.

Currently ranked 143rd on the ATP Tour, Murray had warned the days of him progressing deep in tournaments again were on the horizon following his upset of Sinner midweek.

Murray's career has been ravaged by injuries – the 34-year-old underwent hip resurfacing in 2019, but the veteran feels he is on the right track.

"My game will improve, I think, over the off season - I'm pretty clear on the things that I need to work on," said Murray, with his focus now turning to the 2022 Australian Open.

"I need to make sure we get a good plan in place that come the beginning of January those improvements have been made."

Paul needed two hours, 16 minutes to see off Murray at the ATP 250 tournament in Stockholm.

"It was a lot of fun," said American Paul. "He is a legend. I played some of my best tennis today and I even looked over at my coach mid-match and thought it was fun to battle him today.

"It was the game plan to keep him running after his long match [against Jannik Sinner] yesterday. I tried to keep him running. I played tight and stuck to my game plan in the third set."

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