Kicking off his 14th ATP Finals campaign, world no. 1 Novak Djokovic toppled Casper Ruud 7-6, 6-2 in an hour and 30 minutes. Heading to Turin after securing the 37th Masters 1000 crown in Paris, Novak struggled a bit at the beginning of the encounter against a debutant before pulling the break back and controlling the pace in the rest of the clash.
Thus, the five-time ATP Finals champion secured the 39th victory at this event, matching Ivan Lendl in second place and trailing only to Roger Federer, who stands on 59. The Serb dropped only 12 points behind the initial shot, facing that lonesome break point in the encounter's opening game and securing three breaks from five opportunities to seal the deal in straight sets and make a winning start.
Novak had the upper hand in the shortest and more advanced exchanges, taming his strokes nicely despite occasional errors and sailing towards the finish line with a strong performance in set number two.
Novak Djokovic is the third player with at least 39 ATP Finals victories.
Struggling to find the first serve, Djokovic got broken in the encounter's first game, falling to the ground in the last point and handing his rival an early advantage.
The Norwegian cemented the break with a service winner in game two and held at 30 the next time he served following Djokovic's loose forehand to open a 3-1 gap. Finding his range after an early setback, Novak fired an unreturned serve in the fifth game to reduce the deficit and broke back a few minutes later after Casper's double fault to gain momentum.
The Norwegian fended off two set points in the tenth game, the second with an incredible forehand winner, to cause Novak's frustration, although the Serb stayed calm and introduced a tie break. World no. 1 sprayed a forehand error in the fifth point to fall 3-2 behind before pulling the mini-break back and leveling the score at 4-4 with a forehand down the line winner.
Djokovic painted another forehand winner at 6-4 to secure the opener in 61 minutes and become a massive favorite ahead of set number two. As was expected, Casper lost steam and got broken at the beginning of the second set to drift further from a positive result.
Djokovic grabbed another break in game five and moved over the top with four service winners at 5-2 for a winning start and the 39th ATP Finals victory.