No­vak Djokovic wins 3rd straight match at ATP fi­nals

Malta Independent - - SPORT -

No­vak Djokovic is play­ing for a lot more than just a record­ty­ing sixth ti­tle at the ATP fi­nals. The sec­ond-ranked Serb is also look­ing to re­claim the No. 1 rank­ing. Djokovic won his third straight match at this year’s sea­son-end­ing tour­na­ment yes­ter­day, beat­ing David Gof­fin 6-1, 6-2 at the O2 Arena to fin­ish group play un­de­feated for the fourth time in the past five years. But there are some more matches to play be­fore the 12time Grand Slam cham­pion can be as­sured of again fin­ish­ing the sea­son as the top-ranked player. “Ev­ery­thing has been go­ing ... in a pos­i­tive di­rec­tion. I’ve been play­ing bet­ter and bet­ter as I pro­ceed in the tour­na­ment,” Djokovic said. “One thing is for sure: I’m go­ing to give it all on the court and see what hap­pens.” Andy Mur­ray took over the No. 1 rank­ing from Djokovic this month at the Paris Mas­ters. But if Djokovic does bet­ter than Mur­ray this week­end at the ATP fi­nals, he will jump back ahead and fin­ish the sea­son on top for the third straight sea­son and the fifth time in six years. “Well, that’s ob­vi­ously some­thing that you wish for, I mean, as a player, to have ev­ery­thing in your hands, not to de­pend on other play­ers,” Djokovic said. “In this par­tic­u­lar case, I’m glad that it’s like that.” Mur­ray, mean­while, is look­ing to ex­tend his stay at the top through the off­sea­son for the first time. He plays his third match on Fri­day against U.S. Open cham­pion Wawrinka. Djokovic had al­ready qual­i­fied for the semi­fi­nals after win­ning his open­ing two matches at the O2. The sec­ond semi­fi­nal spot from the group was de­cided later yes­ter­day when Mi­los Raonic faced Do­minic Thiem. Gof­fin was mak­ing his de­but at the tour­na­ment yes­ter­day, fill­ing in for the in­jured Gael Mon­fils. The 11th-ranked Bel­gian didn’t get much chance against Djokovic, earn­ing only one break point - and that in the fi­nal game of the match. Djokovic, mean­while, con­verted four of his six break points, two in each set. “It was not easy,” said Gof­fin, an al­ter­nate who found out on Wed­nes­day that he would be fac­ing Djokovic. “I didn’t feel re­ally well. I didn’t feel the rhythm. My ground­strokes, my best weapons, were not there. It’s not easy against No­vak when it’s like that.” Djokovic is a five-time cham­pion at the tour­na­ment, which is for the top-eight play­ers in the world. He has won 21 of his last 22 matches at the O2 since 2012, in­clud­ing four straight ti­tles. He also won the ti­tle in 2008, when the tour­na­ment was in Shang­hai, so an­other vic­tory on Sun­day will put him even with Roger Fed­erer as six-time cham­pi­ons. Djokovic opened the match against Gof­fin with two dou­ble­faults, but he didn’t do much wrong after that. He ended up win­ning 83 per­cent of the Stan points on his first serve, even with four dou­ble-faults in the first set. An­other match won, but more work to do to re­gain that No. 1 rank­ing. “I al­ways try to re­ally take the last drop of en­ergy, what­ever is left in my body, to per­form as well as I can,” Djokovic said, “and fin­ish off the sea­son in the best pos­si­ble way.”

No­vak Djokovic of Ser­bia cel­e­brates win­ning the match point against David Gof­fin of Bel­gium dur­ing their ATP World Tour Fi­nals sin­gles tennis match at the O2 Arena in Lon­don Photo: AP

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