Novak Djokovic has suffered a shock loss to Jannik Sinner amid a day of drama at the ATP Finals. The World No.1, who secured the year-end top ranking for a record eighth time on Monday, went down 5-7 7-6 (7-5) 6-7 (2-7) on Wednesday as Sinner sent his home fans into raptures in Turin.
It was the 22-year-old's first win in four career meetings with Djokovic, and throws the 'Green Group' wide open. Sinner now has two wins from two matches, while Djokovic has one win and a loss.
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Stefanos Tsitsipas earlier apologised to fans after being forced to retire just 17 minutes into his clash against Holger Rune, who has joined Djokovic at 1-1. The Greek star was booed off the court by fans in Italy, furious at having paid money to see a contest between two of the world's top players and only getting three games.
Tsitsipas had been battling a back injury leading into the contest after losing his opening match of the season-ending tournament to Sinner 6-4, 6-4. The 25-year-old told reporters after the match that he had consulted with doctors and specialists and been given the green light to try and play through his injury issue.
Unfortunately for the Greek and the fans, he had to retire from the match and the tournament while trailing Rune 2-1 in the opening set. That handed the Dane an easy win, following his thrilling three-set defeat to World No.1 Novak Djokovic in the opening match.
Tsitsipas had cut short a practice session due to an apparent physical issue in the lead-up to the tournament but had assured fans he was "absolutely fine" when pressed on the issue. The Greek clearly wasn't fine against Rune though and was roundly booed off court by disappointed fans.
Many took exception to the unsavoury crowd scenes and condemned fans for booing Tsitsipas when he was clearly trying to give it a go. However, others rounded on the Greek on social media and labelled it "disgusting" that he hadn't given up his place in the eight-man tournament, knowing he wasn't fully fit.
they paid good money to see yearend quality match but they got 10 min of awful performance, don’t tell me the greek team didn’t know this morning that tsitsipas was in no condition to play … boos well deserved
— ushtrasanam yoga (@ushtrasanam) November 14, 2023
Everyone who booed Tsitsipas off the court today: you should be ashamed of yourselves. Imagine working so hard to be a top 8 player, then faltering physically then the crowd boos you off court when you’re injured. How would u feel? @steftsitsipas Get well soon 💪💪
— absolutelyEpic137 (@totallyEpic137) November 14, 2023
Tsitsipas earned his spot at the Nitto ATP Finals & deserved to give it a try today in a competitive match. That’s a shame he had to retire. Harsh of the crowd to boo him like that. Wish him a speedy recovery.
— Vansh (@vanshv2k) November 14, 2023
He is being booed for retiring after only 3 games. He knew he was not able to play and still decided to continue. Hurkacz could've move in to the tournament and having chances to advance. Also, the public would have seen a tennis match, they've paid for it. Tsitsipas was wrong.
— David (@david7_daniel) November 14, 2023
This is why Tsitsipas is not a well liked player in the slightest. Before woke TT and Tsitsipals try make him the biggest victim in the world, what he did here was selfish and egoistical. Fans paid money to watch tennis but he just wanted $80k more and not care at all. Disgusting https://t.co/vzZeDjQmqp
— SRF (@S_RF_CA) November 14, 2023
— Tennis TV (@TennisTV) November 14, 2023
Stefanos Tsitsipas 'gutted' about retirement
Tsitsipas later said in his press conference: "My apologies to all the fans and the crowd that came to support me today and watch the match. I'm really gutted that I wasn't able to finish the match.
"It's a shame also not to give that spot to someone else to at least try and do something with it. My doctors and the countless visits that I had in the last few days suggested that I play, gave me the green light to go and try it for myself.
"Unfortunately, I felt terrible on the court. I did what I could do in the best possible way to be ready and fit for this match, but it didn't work out for me. It kills me not to be able to finish this tournament, the one that I've prepped for for so long."
Tsitsipas' withdrawal means Hubert Hurkacz will take his place in the eight-man field, although the Pole has no chance of progressing to the semi-finals after two straight losses for the man he's replacing. Conversely, Rune is still in with a shot of qualifying for the last-four after picking up the win in lieu of Tstisipas' retirement - leaving him 1-1 going into the final round robin match against Sinner.
"It was very unfortunate," said Rune. "I think we could all see in his first service game that he wasn't serving anywhere near full. For sure I knew something was up. We play a long season and it's important to take care of the body. I wish him all the best."
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