World number one Novak Djokovic delivers a sublime performance to beat second seed Carlos Alcaraz, progressing to a ninth championship match at the Nitto ATP Finals on Saturday evening in Turin.
Defending champion Novak Djokovic keeps his quest for a record seventh Nitto ATP Finals crown alive by defeating World No. 2 Carlos Alcaraz 6-3, 6-2 after one hour and 29 minutes on Saturday evening at the Pala Alpitour.
In his on-court interview, he commented: “After spending a lot of time on the court in the first three matches, I wasn’t sure how I was going to feel tonight.”
“This year, I wasn’t maybe as sharp in the second and third group matches, particularly, but I think tonight, from the very beginning, I felt the ball well.”
Djokovic’s 16th appearance at the Nitto ATP Finals was not as straightforward as he would’ve liked, yet he found his way to reach his 9th career final at the tournament.
He launched his campaign by holding off eighth seed Holger Rune in a three-setter on Sunday. Then, he lost a dramatic battle against World No. 4 Jannik Sinner 7-5, 6-7(5), 7-6(2).
On Thursday, he took down alternate Hubert Hurkacz, 7-6(1), 4-6, 6-1, who stepped in for injured Stefanos Tsitsipas, albeit he secured his spot in the semifinals once Sinner toppled Rune.
Assessing his performance, he added: “I approached the match with the right attitude and mentality. I knew from the very first point it was going to be greatly intense. He had breakpoints right away, 15/40 in the first game. That’s Carlos. He always brings out his best in these kinds of matches and starts with a lot of high-quality tennis and intensity. You’ve got to match that, try to weather the storm, and I did that.”
In their first indoor meeting on tour, playing on a fast court in Turin, the six-time winner took by storm Wimbledon’s champion, Alcaraz, to secure a knockout battle against the home favorite Sinner in Sunday’s championship match, a chance to avenge his previous loss at the event.
The in-form young Italian earned his ticket to a maiden final at the year-end championships by outlasting former champion Daniil Medvedev 6-3, 6-7(4), 6-1 in the afternoon session, a thrilling matchup that kept the fans on the edge of their seats.
By showcasing magnificent tennis on home soil, the 22-year-old advanced to the grand finale, having held 56 of 58 service games during the week, making history for his country in the process, as he became the first-ever Italian to progress to the championship match at the prestigious event.
On Sunday, a packed Pala Alpitour Stadium will witness the elite players fight for the crowd in Turin. Nonetheless, only Sinner can lift the trophy undefeated.
Djokovic Downs Alcaraz in Style
The Spanish player took the court to make a quick start to the opener, forcing his opponent to fend off two breakpoints in the first game.
As the first set wore on, Djokovic wasted no time to step up the pressure, and as a result, Alcaraz dropped level, committing four backhand errors, which cost him the eighth game and eventually the set.
The Serbian served flawlessly to close out 6-3 in 40 minutes, one set away from a spot in the final.
In the second set, the two-time Slam winner, contesting the season-ending event for the first time in his career, regrouped behind his serve, hitting four aces across the first three games.
However, the Belgrade-born, focused on his game plan, held his nerve, displaying great consistency to break his adversary and lead at 2-1.
The 20-year-old misfiring problems persisted despite showing glimpses of his vast repertoire throughout the encounter.
During a marathon game, he played well, forcing his rival to save two breakpoints. In response, Djokovic took a world-class 23-shot rally, which the crowd applauded.
In control of the match, the man at the top of the rankings stole the baseline exchanges with brilliance to produce a double break in the seventh game, following to serve for the match.
The 36-year-old emerged victorious by clinching the second set 6-2 and the match, winning 81 percent of the first serve points, converting three of eight breakpoint opportunities.
Overall, Alcaraz fired twice as many winners as Djokovic, 22 to 11, and also committed more unforced errors than the US Open reigning champion, 22 to just 8, respectively.
En route to contest the most important final of his career, the San Candido native left behind Tsitsipas, Djokovic, Rune, and Medvedev.
The Toronto Masters champion feels comfortable and embraces the home support.
In that regard, he outlined: “It is a privilege to have this kind of pressure. Even the week before this event, I felt really good on this court. It is quite fast. The crowd has given me so much energy.”