Djokovic off to sparkling start

World No 1 loses just four points on first serve and two points on second serve in emphatic display

Last Updated: 12/11/18 9:56pm

Novak Djokovic eased past John Isner to win his opening  round-robin match

Novak Djokovic eased past John Isner to win his opening round-robin match

Top-ranked Novak Djokovic launched his campaign for a record-equalling sixth ATP Finals title with a comfortable victory against American debutant John Isner on Monday.

The Serb, guaranteed to end the year in top spot, established an early foothold in Group Guga Kuerten by seeing off the threat of the tall American 6-4 6-3.

Djokovic has enjoyed a remarkable second half of the year by winning Wimbledon and the US Open as he surged up the rankings in just five months after making an incredible comeback following elbow surgery.

0:19
For a big man Isner showed incredible touch at the net with this volley…

For a big man Isner showed incredible touch at the net with this volley…

And despite a blip after losing in the final of the Paris Masters to Karen Khachanov eight days ago, he returned to winning ways at The O2.

Isner, at 6ft 10in, is the tallest player to compete at the year-end championships. Despite a solid start, it was the 31-year-old who broke his resistance in the fifth game and that was enough for the Serb to close it out. He lost just four points on serve in a set lasting 43 minutes.

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Djokovic showed sensational speed and then calmness to send this down the line for a winner

Djokovic showed sensational speed and then calmness to send this down the line for a winner

Djokovic was aiming for a landmark 50th win for the 11th time in the last 12 seasons, but he was finding the Miami Masters champion a difficult opponent to shrug off until a series of winners handed him the opportunity which he gleefully took in the seventh game.

The 14-time Grand Slam champion completed a masterful display by breaking Isner for the third time in the match to make it 31-2 since the start of Wimbledon.

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It was precision perfect from the Serb as he rattled off another outstanding winner

It was precision perfect from the Serb as he rattled off another outstanding winner

Shot of the match

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Djokovic took this Isner serve so early that it flashed past his opponent for a stunning winner

Djokovic took this Isner serve so early that it flashed past his opponent for a stunning winner

Astonishing! The world No 1 showed amazing hand-eye coordination when returning this missile of a serve back with interest.

Winners reaction

2:36
Djokovic spoke to Annabel Croft following his 50th win of the season

Djokovic spoke to Annabel Croft following his 50th win of the season

“The O2 Arena has been a lucky place for me over the years. I’ve had plenty of success,” said Djokovic. “The match was great. I managed to have three breaks of serve against John which is sometimes mission impossible but I just managed to be there at the right time. I held my serve really well and backed it up from the baseline very solid. Just a great match overall.”

Celeb spotting…

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Cristiano Ronaldo and family were in the crowd to watch world No 1 Djokovic take on Isner. The Juventus superstar got quite an ovation…

Cristiano Ronaldo and family were in the crowd to watch world No 1 Djokovic take on Isner. The Juventus superstar got quite an ovation…

Expert’s view

Djokovic is just too good. He has separated himself from the pack. You have the world No 1 and then there’s the rest. That’s hard to believe considering where Djokovic started the year at. He was in the wilderness and the way he played tonight, it was as good as it gets.

Greg Rusedski on Novak Djokovic

What’s next

Isner faces a crunch match against Cilic to avoid the wooden spoon on Wednesday

Isner faces a crunch match against Cilic to avoid the wooden spoon on Wednesday

Djokovic will take on Alexander Zverev, who won the clash this afternoon against Marin Cilic. While John Isner will face the Croatian in a battle of the big servers on Wednesday.

Djokovic v Isner: Match Stats

Djokovic Stats Isner
6 Aces 13
1 Double Faults 2
87% 1st serve win percentage 67%
85% 2nd serve win percentage 40%
3/9 Break points won 0/0
21 Total winners 23
6 Unforced errors 26
7/10 Net points won 10/19
64 Total points won 44

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