Novak Djokovic made a commanding start at the ATP Finals, beating second seed Stefanos Tsitsipas in straight sets 6-4, 7-6.
The Serbian is going for record-equalling sixth Nitto ATP Finals title, which would make him even with Roger Federer, and he was ruthless from the off, breaking the young Greek in the first game.
“The first game was very important to break his serve,” Djokovic said.
“Starting with a break of serve is obviously a huge boost in confidence and a relief as well because we both knew it would be a tight match."
Tsitsipas came into the match with a Tour-leading 60 wins this season and was hoping to claim the world number one spot from Carlos Alcaraz who had to withdraw due to injury.
However, in order to clinch the top spot, the young Greek had to remain undefeated at the ATP Finals, a tournament he has won before on his debut in 2019, so this is now no longer possible.
Djokovic now leads Tsitsipas 10-2 in their head-to-head matches but the Serbian admitted that the two have had some tight battles. The most recent match was a close three set clash in the Paris Masters semi-final just two weeks ago.
“We have played some really close matches in the past few tournaments against each other," Djokovic said.
"It was very important to start off well. I held my serve really well throughout the match. I played a great tie-break, very solid all the way through.”
The 35-year-old will play other red group opponents Andrey Rublev and Daniil Medvedev in the round-robin stage, with Rublev defeating Medvedev earlier on Monday.
Now that Tsitsipas is not able to move into the World number one spot, the only other player that can take the crown from Alcaraz is Rafael Nadal.
Nadal lost his opening match against Taylor Fritz, but can still take the world number one ranking if he is able to win his first ATP Final title.
For more exclusive content from Tennisbuzz, including news, features, trivia, promotions and more, please be sure to bookmark our home page.