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Published: 10:42, November 17, 2023 | Updated: 11:17, November 17, 2023
Djokovic beats Hurkacz at ATP Finals, reaches semis with Sinner
By Reuters
Published:10:42, November 17, 2023 Updated:11:17, November 17, 2023 By Reuters

Serbia's Novak Djokovic returns the ball to Poland's Hubert Hurkacz during their singles tennis match of the ATP World Tour Finals at the Pala Alpitour, in Turin, Italy, Nov 16, 2023. (PHOTO / AP)

TURIN -- World number one Novak Djokovic beat ATP Finals alternate Hubert Hurkacz 7-6(1) 4-6 6-1 in their Green Group clash on Thursday and advanced to the semi-finals after Jannik Sinner edged Holger Rune 6-2 5-7 6-4 in the evening match.

ALSO READ: Sublime Sinner thrills Turin

Djokovic's dropped set against Hurkacz, who replaced the injured Stefanos Tsitsipas in Turin, confirmed Jannik Sinner's spot in the semi-finals - making him the first Italian in the tournament's 54-year history to reach that stage.

Home favorite Sinner also clinched the top spot in the group with a 3-0 record after his big win over defending champion Djokovic 7-5 6-7(5) 7-6(2) on Tuesday.

Despite Djokovic notching his 15th victory over a top-10 player this year, equalling his best record since 2018, the Serbian was clearly frustrated after the win when asked why he looked upset when things went awry during the second set

Playing with nothing to lose, Poland's Hurkacz was a force to reckon with on serve -- firing 24 aces in the match -- but he ran out of steam in the final set as Djokovic converted break points for the first time in the contest.

Despite Djokovic notching his 15th victory over a top-10 player this year, equalling his best record since 2018, the Serbian was clearly frustrated after the win when asked why he looked upset when things went awry during the second set.

READ MORE: Evergreen Bopanna sets age record with ATP Finals win

"Why was I upset? For what? I lost the set, so it's normal ... Good win, good win," he said in an interview that lasted less than 20 seconds before he walked off the court.

Break points were in short supply in an absorbing first set as Hurkacz made things difficult for world number one Djokovic when he opted to serve first and began with a series of unreturned serves in the opening games.

Hurkacz is the only player on the ATP Tour with over 1,000 aces in 2023 and the 26-year-old was aggressive with his approach on a lightning-quick surface.

But at 6-5 down, Djokovic switched gears and won 10 points in a row to take the contest into a tiebreak, setting up six set points in the blink of an eye.

READ MORE: Alcaraz falls to Zverev, Medvedev tops Rublev at ATP Finals

Although Hurkacz saved one set point, the Serbian closed out the set to take the upper hand.

However, the Pole stormed back into the match in the second set with the crowd firmly behind the underdog while Djokovic seemed distracted, handing Hurkacz the first break when he made a double fault.

Hurkacz nearly handed back the advantage on serve when leading 4-3 with Djokovic going 40-15 up, but his powerful serve came to the rescue once again to deny the Serbian a break before he served out the set to force a decider.

READ MORE: Sinner digs deep to down Djokovic in ATP Finals cracker

However, that was all Hurkacz had to offer as his unforced error count continued to climb. Although Poler hit more winners than Djokovic, he also made 41 unforced errors which proved to be the difference.

Sinner, enjoying the best season of his career, reached 60 victories in 2023 after a fierce battle against world number eight Rune.

The Italian needed only 32 minutes to clinch the first set courtesy of a strong serve and two early breaks, looking on course for a smooth victory.

But the feisty Dane rallied to hold his serve and take the second set by capitalizing the fourth of his break chances against a diminished Sinner, who constantly grabbed his lower back in apparent pain.

Down 4-3 in the decider, Sinner saved a crucial break point thanks to an ace, then struck in the next game to break serve and seal his first win over Rune.


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