Djokovic does little work for Isner to open the ATP finals with victory – Tennis


Novak Djokovic did a short job of the imposing American John Isner to win his opening match in the ATP finals.

The world number one and favorite for a sixth London title was a comfortable 6-4 6-3 winner at 6 feet 10in at the Isner machine at the O2 Arena.

The Serbian is back in business after a few months of injury that led him to enter Wimbledon on July 21 in the world rankings.

But after raising his fourth crown of SW19 and the US Open as well as titles in Cincinnati and Shanghai, Djokovic is once again the top of the tree and was presented with the world number one trophy at the end of the year on Sunday.

And with a suspended cloud over Roger Federer, who was terribly crazy to lose to Kei Nishikori on Sunday night, the road seems clear for Djokovic to move to the same level as the Swiss in six titles.

Isner, at age 33, now the oldest rookie of the finals – Kevin Anderson kept the record for just over 24 hours – blew his usual missiles, but Djokovic had break points in his first two games before taking a count on his third .

With Cristiano Ronaldo watching from the crowd, Djokovic secured his second break in 3-3 in the second and started to dispatch Isner with the minimum of noise.

Djokovic said: "It's great to be back at 02, it's been a lucky place for me over the years.

"The game was great. I got three pauses in John's serve, which is sometimes an impossible task, but I managed to be in the right place at the right time, and I kept my serve very well and played well.

"I lost this tournament last year because of injury. I kind of took advantage of my free time, but I lost that arena and I'm happy to be back. "

There seems to be little to fear for Djokovic, certainly during the rest of the group stage, with Alexander Zverev not exactly convincing in defeating perennial 02 loser Marin Cilic.

Last year's runner-up at Wimbledon lost 7-6 (5) 7-6 (1) and now only one of his 10 games in the season finale – against Nishikori in 2016, when Cilic had already been eliminated .

It was also the sixth consecutive loss inflicted on Cilic by the German rising star Zverev, and much of what was done by the Croats.

Cilic had break points 4-0 and 5-1 in the first set, but failed to take advantage, allowing Zverev to return to the set with a 4-5 break.

Then in Deuce Cilic he consulted referee Ali Nili before deciding against the challenge of a long call that if he had done so, he would have earned him the set point.

Cilic said, "I asked if he was out and he showed me he was out, clearly, so just not me – I was not going to challenge. Even when I got the picture, I felt I was going to be close.

It was not the cream of men's shoes. The players hit only 19 winners and made a total of 46 unforced errors when Zverev took the set in the tie-break.

In the second set of tie-break, Cilic was left to mourn a wasted challenge early in the set, which meant he had no more to knock down another bad call.

"Some calls like that were not my way," Cilic added.


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