Novak Djokovic kept his bid to equal a record sixth ATP Finals title alive by beating Taylor Fritz of the United States on Saturday to reach the final of the prestigious season-ending tournament.
The Serb will face third seed Casper Ruud in Sunday’s final as he tries to win his first title at the event since 2015 and equal Roger Federer’s record.
Djokovic, who remained unbeaten in the group stage, beat Fritz 7-6(5), 7-6(6) in just under two hours in Turin, securing victory on his second match point.
He has now won all six of his meetings against the 25-year-old Fritz.
Another year, another final. 👏
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Djokovic had to quickly recover from a grueling three-hour win over Daniil Medvedev in their last group match, which had ended less than 24 hours earlier.
“I had to fight to survive,” Djokovic said. “Today I didn’t feel very reactive or very comfortable. I knew coming into today’s match from yesterday’s grueling battle against Medvedev, I knew it would take me some time to adjust and find the dynamic movement I need against Fritz, who is one of the best servers on tour.
“I’m really glad I got through this one as I don’t think it was one of my best days with my tennis, but I managed to hang on.”
A spirited performance from Fritz saw him bounce back from a first-set collapse. The American also broke in the first game of the second and seemed on the verge of leveling the match when he took a 5-3 lead.
Fritz distracted by fan
Djokovic held but Fritz stayed serving for the set at 5-4. However, it was 30-30 in that game when a fan yelled that he was going for the ball and hit it into the net.
“I can’t expect anybody to say ‘repeat point’ because in that situation I can’t say I would do that either,” Fritz said. “I’m kind of screwed and there’s really nothing that can be done about it.
Djokovic fell back and again found a way past the tiebreaker.
“I had to be very patient, I didn’t start the second set very well,” Djokovic said. “But I managed to break his serve at 5-4 when he was serving for the set, like when Medvedev was serving for the match yesterday.
“In those moments I found another gear and managed to control my nerves and make him play another shot in the tiebreaker.”
In addition to possibly matching Federer’s record, Djokovic will also claim the biggest payday in tennis history on Sunday, with $4,740,300 on offer for claiming the undefeated ATP Finals trophy.
Ruud took just 68 minutes to beat Andrey Rublev 6-2, 6-4.
The Norwegian proved too strong for Rublev, as he broke his opponent’s serve four times in the match to reach the tournament final for the first time.