By Ros Satar, at the Nitto ATP World Tour Finals

  • Novak Djokovic [1] def. John Isner 6-4 6-3
LONDON, UK – Novak Djokovic kick-started his campaign to equal Roger Federer’s six season-ending titles as he cruised past John Isner.


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Novak Djokovic [1] def. John Isner 6-4 6-3

After the drama surrounding Roger Federer’s loss against Kei Nishikori in the first night session on Sunday, and the rallying call of Alexander Zverev to come back and beat Marin Cilic, it still would have been a mighty shock if Novak Djokovic had struggled to get past Finals debutante John Isner.

John Isner in the first round robin match of the ATP World Tour Finals 2018, London

John Isner in the first round robin match of the ATP World Tour Finals 2018, London | (Photo by Fred Lee/Getty Images)

From the start Djokovic was pressing the American, twice bringing up break-points on his serve, while being the one in control of his own service games, serving twice to love. The pressure paid off with a break advantage that he held on to, threatening once more to break for the set before convincingly holding to love to clinch the lead.

It looked a little more assured from Isner in the second set, able to dictate his own service games more comfortably, but when Djokovic did eventually pounce, he did it decisively, breaking Isner twice in succession and closing out his first-round win on a third match point.

It was hardly the auspicious start to Isner’s debut that he wanted, but he good-naturedly put it into perspective.

Isner said: “From the first point of the whole match he connected pretty well on a return. But I mean, to be honest, I’m not surprised. Sometimes you got to hope he’s a bit off. Unfortunately, I don’t think that was the case tonight. I got my ass kicked. That was pretty comprehensive out there.

“Certainly, there are some things I have to try and keep improving and the beauty of this format is I’m definitely still alive. I was the underdog tonight and got beat down pretty good.”

He continued: “I wish I could have given them a bit more to cheer for. I felt the crowd sort of wanted to see more tennis and embraced me in the underdog role and I would like to still be out there playing. It was fantastic.

“Everything I could have hoped it would have been out there. It was fantastic. The atmosphere’s amazing. It’s pretty special to play out there.”

As the first round-robin matches of the group stages comes to a close, we have seen two extremes of matches. Determination from Kevin Anderson, a battle of the less-bads between Nishikori and Federer, at times soporific tennis from Zverev and Cilic, and a return to superb shot-making and confidence.

Djokovic explained: “It takes a little bit of time really to get yourself adjusted to the surface because the surface is a good surface. But it takes a lot of rotation, takes a lot of spin. When you serve well, also it accelerates through the court.

“You kind of always have to be on alert, be very solid in your core, I would say, to be able to execute your shots well and constantly adjust with your feet to the ball. The surface kind of makes you work more. That’s why probably players feel like it’s a bit tricky, demanding.”

Play continues at the Nitto ATP World Tour Finals at 12pm.



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