Under the ravenous home crowd in Turin, Jannik Sinner battled past Novak Djokovic in a theatrical green group encounter at the ATP Finals, with a 7-5, 6-7 (5), 7-6 (2) scoreline for his first career win over the 24-time Grand Slam champion and current world No. 1. The match lasted an astounding three hours as neither player took a backwards step in their gruesome time on court. Eventually, Jannik Sinner seized his chance in the deciding set tiebreak to crack Djokovic’s final resistance as he put away a smash to the deafening roars of the sell-out crowd inside the Pala Alpitour.
Una notte speciale 🇮🇹❤️ pic.twitter.com/g8XavJPwi0
— Jannik Sinner (@janniksin) November 15, 2023
Jannik Sinner Edges Closer to Becoming First Italian Player in the ATP Finals Top 4
After his earlier group match victory against Stefanos Tsitsipas, Jannik Sinner needed to replicate his straight-sets win in front of enthusiastic home support in Turin over tennis icon Djokovic to guarantee passage from the Green Group with a match to spare. While it eventually did not go as planned, the Italian will be equally delighted to end Novak’s 19 match and 121 days winning runs as he edges closer to becoming the first Italian player to reach the last four in the Nitto ATP finals.
Heading into this match, Jannik Sinner had won his last four matches against other top 5 opposition with victories against fellow contestants. For example, he had put Alcaraz, Medvedev, and Rublev to the sword in his best career year yet with four titles this season, including the Masters 1000 event at Toronto. However, Novak Djokovic is still the ultimate test in Tennis as he has yet to pass the trial with a W.
The match seemed to be heading in his favour as he broke Djokovic’s served at 5-5 in the first set before eventually closing it out with a perfect service game. And yet, the Serbian pulled level after a bruising second set in which neither player faced a single break point. In the deciding set, Jannik Sinner may have felt a sense of deja vu when he failed to capitalise on a 4-2 lead as Djokovic rallied back to force a tiebreak, but even the Serbian’s recovery powers had a limit as the Italian stormed to a 5-0 lead in the tiebreak before ending the match with a smash.
🇮🇹 Jannik Sinner has now won his last FIVE matches in a row against Top 5 players. 🔥
d. #2 Alcaraz in Beijing SF, 7-6 6-1
d. #3 Medvedev in Beijing F, 7-6 7-6
d. #5 Rublev in Vienna SF, 7-5 7-6
d. #3 Medvedev in Vienna F, 7-6 4-6 6-3
d. #1 Djokovic in ATP Finals RR, 7-5 6-7 7-6
— TENNIS (@Tennis) November 14, 2023
Jannik Sinner Delighted with Win and Emphasises Focus in Remaining Matches
After the pulsating match in which both players shared an identical 109 points won, Jannik Sinner stood exhausted as he soaked in the support for his accomplishment. In his interview, he mentioned: “To beat the world number one, who has 24 Grand Slams, that means a lot. It’s one of the top wins. He played better than me in the second set tiebreak, but I think I was brave in the big moments. It’s a sort of process, and I feel that I’m more confident in certain moments. We were both serving very well, and I think we played really, really well.”
As for Novak, he did little wrong as he once again played the player and the crowd. When asked about the crowd, Novak replied: “I expected it. He’s the only Italian here, and he’s playing in Italy. There’s a lot of hype, and he’s in great form, so it’s normal.”
The Serbian continued by praising Sinner as he said: “You have just to congratulate him. He just played a fantastic match. That’s what I told him at the net. I felt in the most important moments, he played his best game, and he absolutely deserved to win. I think the main difference is that in the important points, he was going for it. He was more courageous. He deserved to win because, in important moments, I wasn’t aggressive and decisive enough. I gave him the opportunity to take the control over the points.”
Jannik Sinner Is a Massive Contender for the Crown
While it is still premature to say Jannik Sinner can win the whole thing, it is undeniable that he has shown capabilities against the best. To put into perspective, Jannik Sinner is the only player this year to have wins over Djokovic, Alcaraz and Medvedev, the current Top 3 on the ATP rankings. Furthermore, he has already beaten the Spaniard and Russian twice this season, and with Alcaraz slumping in the other group after his loss to Zverev, the sky is the limit for the promising Italian.
With fate in his hands on Friday, the Italian only needs a win against Holger Rune, who also fought Djokovic closely and earned additional rest after Tsitsipas, unfortunately, withdrew from the competition with an injury.