‘I slipped, tripped, dropped my racket and lost my serve,’ explains Novak Djokovic after ATP Finals opening win

Celebrations from Novak Djokovic

Novak Djokovic recovered from a wobbly start to defeat debutant Casper Ruud in his opening round-robin match at the Nitto ATP Finals in Turin.

The world number one is bidding for a record-equalling sixth title at the season-ending tournament but has not lifted the trophy since 2015.

He arrived in Italy on the back of a 37th Masters title in Paris and kept his winning run going with a 7-6 (7-4), 6-2 victory over Ruud, who is the first Norwegian to qualify for the tournament.

Djokovic dropped serve in the opening game after a point when he stumbled and dropped his racket before netting, but he settled into the match and broke back for 3-3.

Ruud, who has developed his game this year to be a threat on all surfaces, rather than just his favoured clay, did well to save two set points at 4-5, but Djokovic came out on top in the tie-break.

The second set was a masterclass from Djokovic, who applied intense pressure to his 22-year-old opponent’s serve, breaking in the opening game before getting an insurance policy in game five.

“I recovered from that fall on that break point in that first game,” the world No 1 said. “It was very strange. I played a good forehand and came into the net and had a pretty comfortable overhead and I slipped, tripped, dropped my racket and lost my serve. The conditions here are quite tough. If you lose your serve, it is difficult to get it back. But I managed to stay in. I am very pleased with the way I handled the match.”