Match Report

Djokovic Downs Hubi, Now Waits To Learn SF Fate

Serbian needs Sinner to win Thursday to advance
November 16, 2023
Corinne Dubreuil/ATP Tour
Novak Djokovic in action Thursday at the Nitto ATP Finals. By ATP Staff

Six-time Nitto ATP Finals champion Novak Djokovic kept alive his chances of qualifying for the Turin semi-finals Thursday when he recovered from a second-set slump to down alternate Hubert Hurkacz 7-6(1), 4-6, 6-1.

Djokovic, who moves to 2-1 in Green Group, now awaits the outcome between Holger Rune and Jannik Sinner, needing the Italian to win in order to advance.

”I was focussed to win [my] match, so I did. The outcome of tonight's match is not in my hands, that's it,” Djokovic said in his post-match press conference. “I'm really not thinking about it.”

Aiming for a 12th semi-final berth in 16 Nitto ATP Finals appearances, Djokovic manoeuvred through a heavy-hitting, first-strike clash with Hurkacz, whom the Serbian now holds a 7-0 Lexus ATPHead2Head record against. Both players fought for court positioning, hugging the baseline tight behind their serves throughout the two-hour, four-minute encounter.

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In crucial moments, Djokovic struck the ball cleanly while drawing unforced errors from Hurkacz’s forehand, such as at the end of the opening set, when the World No. 1 won 10 consecutive points from 6-5 to 6/0 in the tie-break.

Djokovic was forced to recover from a second-set dip, in which he was broken to love at 2-2 while Hurkacz won 13 consecutive points and did not drop a point behind his first serve in the entire second set.

The 36-year-old Djokovic finished the match with 13 unforced errors, compared to Hurkacz's 41, including 23 from his forehand. The Belgrade native also was more dominant behind his second serve, winning 73 per cent of his second-serve points to his opponent's 32 per cent. 

All three of Djokovic’s group-stage matches have gone three sets, meaning the defending champion has spent more than eight hours on court across three matches. Djokovic could make more history this week as he aims to surpass Roger Federer to stand alone with seven Nitto ATP Finals titles.

Djokovic's semi-final fate is now in Sinner's hands. If the Italian defeats Rune on Thursday evening, Djokovic will finish second in Green Group and move on. If Rune beats Sinner, the Dane will win the group and the home favourite will qualify second, eliminating Djokovic. The Serbian has not been ousted in Nitto ATP Finals group play since 2019.

Hurkacz, 26, was competing as an alternate after the withdrawal of Stefanos Tsitsipas (back injury).

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