Novak Djokovic has expressed his regrets over a racquet-smashing outburst during his win over Holger Rune in his first match at the ATP Finals on Sunday. The World No.1 sealed the year-end top ranking in a 7-6 (7-4) 6-7 (1-7) 6-3 win, meaning he can't be overtaken by Carlos Alcaraz in 2023.
But the 24-time grand slam champion didn't have things all his own way and was left fuming when he dropped the second set. After the opening few games of the third set, Djokovic walked over to his court-side bench and destroyed two racquets.
The Serbian star stomped on the frames of the racquets angrily, leaving them broken in half. The outburst seemed to lift some tension from the World No.1, who immediately gained the decisive break in the next game.
Novak Djokovic just obliterating his poor racquets pic.twitter.com/UlF4Xj4Ln4
— Liam (@Blutman27) November 12, 2023
A composed Djokovic then went on with things against the young Dane, who produced a valiant performance against the 24-time major winner. Speaking in his post-match press conference, Djokovic admitted he felt bad about the outburst.
"Some people are saying that if you want to use that word 'pragmatic' for me to do that because then I can release whatever tension I'm holding and frustration and move on, maybe that was the case tonight," he said. "But I wouldn't encourage anybody doing that. Neither do I encourage myself.
"I'm not happy. I'm not happy with that. I definitely don't like that I have done that, but I have done it and that is it and I have to take responsibility. Yeah, I guess in some cases it has happened in the past where I do that and come back playing more freely, I guess, just letting go. There are different ways, maybe smarter ways to let go of the frustration than breaking a racquet."
Novak Djokovic eyeing eight title at ATP Finals
Djokovic is a seven-time champion at the ATP Finals and will be looking to secure his eighth career title at the showpiece event. It would take him out of a tie with Roger Federer for most ATP Finals titles.
"If I don't want to be humble and be honest, I'm winning the tournament," he declared over the weekend. "If I want to be humble, I'm also winning the tournament." He was now won 19 matches on the trot since his loss to Alcaraz in the Wimbledon final in July.
Djokovic has now secured the year-end No.1 ranking for the eighth time - extending the record he already held. The 36-year-old moved ahead of previous record holder Pete Sampras (six times) two years ago.
Djokovic is now set to become the first player in ATP history to hold the No.1 ranking for 400 weeks. Federer (310) is the only other man with more than 300 weeks in the top spot.
Such bad behavior. Lol
— Joshua (@PaulLaFleu7622) November 12, 2023
Love this photo 😍. Love a good smash / stomp of the racquet too. 👑
— V. Delaney (@Delaney4Tennis) November 12, 2023
Back to winning now! 🤣
Just getting some motivation!
— Minionaire (@TheMinionaire) November 12, 2023
And people wonder why he isn’t as liked as Federer or Nadal. Hard to cheer for this guy.
— R C (@Tennis0026) November 12, 2023
Classy as usual
— bigfhnd (@BigFhnd) November 12, 2023
I honestly don't accept that a person who behaves like this on the court throws digs at Rafa about how to behave.
It's ok for me to break rackets, we are all human, but at least have the decency not to lecture those who have almost always behaved better than you.
— Flavietto99 🇮🇹 (RAFA 22 🏆) (@FlavioBertolin8) November 12, 2023
Jannik Sinner too good for Stefanos Tsitsipas
In the earlier match, Jannik Sinner made a dream start to the end of season tournament with a comprehensive 6-4 6-4 win over Stefanos Tsitsipas. Playing in front of his home crowd in the Pala Alpitour indoor arena in Italy, the World No.4 was far too good for his Greek opponent.
The young Italian wrapped up the opening set in just 40 minutes before breaking serve at the start of the second. He never looked like relinquishing control against a flat-looking Tsitsipas and sealed the deal in straight sets.
"It was a long week before coming here and I was excited to finally step on court," the 22-year-old said. "I knew it would be tough but I think I answered the questions really well. It's a special week, such an incredible feeling playing here with the roof closed and the crowd."
Sinner was drawn in the 'Green Group' with Djokovic, Tsitsipas and Rune, while Alcaraz headlines the 'Red Group' alongside Daniil Medvedev, Andrey Rublev and Alexander Zverev.
The top two players from each group will advance to the semi-finals, with the final scheduled for November 19. Zverev has won the tournament twice before, while Medvedev and Tsitsipas are one-time champions.
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