Novak Djokovic ruthlessly took Matteo Berrettini apart at the ATP Finals on Sunday as he began his quest to reclaim the number one ranking by winning his opening group match 6-2 6-1.
Matteo Berrettini of Italy plays a backhand during his debut against Novak Djokovic at the ATP Finals.
The other two members of the Bjorn Borg group are Federer and Dominic Thiem of Austria, who meet in the evening match.
The Swiss 20-time Grand Slam victor recovered quickly from being broken in the first game of the match but the Austrian fifth seed repeated the dose in the 11th game and took the opening set 7-5.More news: Emilia Clarke hits out at 'bloody annoying' Last Christmas spoilers
Federer fizzed a majestic backhand victor down the line and saved a break point before levelling at 2-2, while Thiem continued to pepper his veteran opponent with powerful, accurate ground strokes. Nadal is bidding to clinch the year-end number one spot in the ATP rankings for a fifth time - he is now 640 points ahead of Djokovic ahead of the season-ending tournament in London, starting tomorrow.
Djokovic must reach the final at the O2 Arena to stand any chance of dislodging Nadal but there are major questions over the Spaniard´s fitness.
The 26-year-old, who dumped his first match point into the net but converted at the second attempt, said: "It was a great performance, my first opening win here at the Finals". The eight finalists are: Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer, Daniil Medvedev, Alexander Zverev, Dominic Thiem, Stefanos Tsitsipas and Matteo Berrettini.
"There's no other reasonable explanation (to that reaction) than trying to play as ideal as possible", Djokovic said from London.More news: Jurgen Klopp makes Ederson injury prediction ahead of Liverpool v Manchester City
If the Serbian does claim the year-end number one ranking for a sixth time, he would match the record of Pete Sampras and victory at the end-of-season event would equal Roger Federer´s mark.
"Over the years I've played really well in this arena". "It was not easy for him to be playing his first Tour Finals match and I knew he might be a bit nervous".
Nadal, who has never won the event, is bidding to clinch the year-end number one spot in the ATP rankings for a fifth time.
The group stage features a round-robin format with the top two players progressing to the semi-finals with the final held next Sunday.More news: PL: Chelsea record sixth straight win, Leicester beat Arsenal