Novak Djokovic reaches the eighth final of the ATP Finals with a hard-fought victory

Novak Djokovic reached his eighth career ATP Finals final with a hard-fought 7-6(5) 7-6(6) win over tournament debutant Taylor Fritz in the semifinals. The world number 8 recovered from a second-set break to reach the championship match where he will face either Andrey Rublev or Casper Ruud in his bid for a record sixth title in the year-end final.

Djokovic and Fritz took the court at the Pala Alpitour for the first semi-final of the day, with the Serb looking to reach his eighth ATP Finals final while the rookie was looking to reach the championship match at his first attempt. . The five-time former tournament champion showed his sportsmanship early in the match when Fritz’s serve was called in the first game, but Djokovic conceded the point when he agreed.

The world number 8 was the first to jump as he broke to love to lead 3-2, but immediately broke back, making consecutive errors to gift the game to the American. Both men continued to hold but didn’t look as strong as they had throughout the week, with Djokovic scoring just four winners en route to a first-set tiebreaker, while the 25-year-old committed 14 unforced errors.

It was the 35-year-old who earned the first mini-break courtesy of an error on Fritz’s forehand, but Djokovic returned the mini-break when he flicked the ball into the net before they switched the sides level in 3-3. It was the Serb who held the first set point in the set at 6-5 and managed to convert it with a booming forehand winner, winning the opening set 7-6(5) in just under an hour before leaving the court. for a quick break. to change

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The tables turned quickly when Fritz set up two break points on the Serb’s serve in the first game of the second set and was once again awarded the break courtesy of Djokovic’s 13th racket unforced error. The 21-time Grand Slam champion then appeared to be on the brink of more trouble when he hit his first double fault of the match at 2-4 down, but held on to fall just a break behind the American.

With Fritz serving for the second set, the former world number 1 earned a break point at a crucial moment and took it when the four-time title winner sent the ball long to stay alive and avoid going to a final set. The pair then disputed another tiebreaker and, just like in the first set, traded mini-breaks early on. Fritz won an epic rally to stay tied at 5-5, but Djokovic responded with a mini-break winner to set up a match point, upsetting him with an error before winning his second match point, this time on serve. from Fritz. He was able to convert it this time and wrapped up a 7-6(5) 7-6(6) victory in one hour and 54 minutes to book his place in tomorrow’s final and remain undefeated this week.

It means Djokovic is now one win away from lifting a sixth ATP Finals title, which would equal Roger Federer’s record. The world number 8 won the title in 2008 and went on a winning streak from 2012 to 2015, but he hasn’t lifted the trophy in the season finale since.

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He will face the winner of the second semi-final against Andrey Rublev and Casper Ruud in the final, having beaten the Russian during the group stage earlier this week. Meanwhile, Fritz’s season on the ATP Tour is coming to an end, although he will represent the United States in the upcoming Davis Cup Finals next week.

The American has enjoyed the best season of his career, winning three titles, including his biggest ever at the Indian Wells Masters, as well as making his first Grand Slam quarterfinal at Wimbledon and ranking in the top 10. He also made his debut at the ATP Finals. thanks to the loss of world number 1 Carlos Alcaraz and took full advantage of his last-minute admission to the tournament, going 2-1 in the group stage and reaching the semifinal in his debut.

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