Imperious Djokovic sweeps aside Schwartzman
The Serbian, 33, has enjoyed another sparkling season despite the coronavirus interruption
Novak Djokovic produced a masterclass against Argentina’s Diego Schwartzman on Monday as he embarked on his campaign for a record-equalling sixth title at the ATP Finals in London.
The world number one wobbled at the start of the match against the diminutive eighth seed, making his debut at the elite eight-man event but recovered to win 6-3, 6-2.
Djokovic, who has already sealed the year-end number one spot for a record-equalling sixth time, is aiming to match Roger Federer, who holds the record of six ATP Finals wins.
The Serbian, 33, has enjoyed another sparkling season despite the coronavirus interruption, winning four titles including the Australian Open.
Schwartzman started impressively, breaking Djokovic in the third game but double-faulted in the following game to gift his opponent two break points and the Serbian levelled at 2-2.
Djokovic broke again in the eighth game and won the set.
He was immediately in the driving seat in set two, breaking the Argentine, who stands just 5 feet 7 inches (170 centimetres) tall to take an iron grip on the match.
He repeated the feat in the fifth game when Schwartzman went wide with a forehand and although the Argentine added a bit of respectability to the scoreline with a hold, it just delayed the inevitable.
World number two Rafael Nadal, chasing his first ATP Finals crown, won his first match in Group London 2020 on Sunday, along with US Open Dominic Thiem.
The O2 Arena is hosting the ATP Finals for the 12th and final season before the year-end championships moves to Turin next year.
Earlier, Djokovic said he had mixed feelings about ending a “strange year” as the world number one for a sixth time after the season was hit hard by the novel coronavirus pandemic.
Djokovic won a record-extending eighth Australian Open as well as a record 36th Masters title in Rome, winning four singles titles in all en route to the year-ending number one ranking.
The 33-year-old has a 39-3 record in a season that saw numerous tournaments suspended or cancelled between March and August due to the coronavirus outbreak, which has killed more than 1.3 million people worldwide.
“Obviously, I’m super proud of it, but I have mixed emotions because of what’s going on in the world,” Djokovic told the ATP Tour website.
“I can’t be ignorant to that, although I have achieved one of the biggest goals in sport. I feel for many people in the world going through hardship and my heart goes out to them.”
Djokovic’s feat saw him go level with childhood hero Pete Sampras who ended the year as number one six times from 1993 to 1998.
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