Novak Djokovic kicked off his ATP Finals title defense with a hard-fought 7-6, 6-7, 6-3 win over Holger Rune in three hours and four minutes. Novak stayed calm in the decider despite breaking two racquets after losing serve in the third game, delivering another break and bringing the victory home.
It was a high-quality duel, with Djokovic landing 36 winners and 22 unforced errors and Rune responding with a 49-29 ratio. The Serb got broken three times. He responded with four return games, two in the decider. Novak landed a forehand down the line winner in the third game, and Holger locked the result at 2-2 in the next one.
Djokovic faced two break points in the fifth game, denying them before falling on the third, finding himself 3-2 behind. Rune missed a chance to move 4-2 up, squandering a game point in game six and playing a loose drop shot to bring Djokovic back to 3-3.
Holger played under pressure in his games at 4-5 and 5-6, passing those tests and introducing a tie break. Novak grabbed two mini-breaks and moved 5-2 in front with a backhand winner in the seventh point.
Novak Djokovic broke two racquets against Holger Rune in Turin.
Returning at 6-4, the Serb painted a forehand crosscourt return winner, wrapping up the opener after a grueling 71 minutes and gaining a boost.
Rune broke at 15 in the second set's second game before Djokovic pulled it back in the next one with a backhand crosscourt winner. Novak played against a set point at 4-5, erasing it with a booming serve and holding for 5-5.
The Serb cracked an ace down the T line in the 12th game, introducing the second tie break and keeping the pressure on the other side. Suddenly, Djokovic played two wayward forehands and fell 3-0 behind. Rune increased the gap to 5-0 with a forehand down the line winner and seized the second set point to introduce a decider after two hours and 24 minutes.
The young gun hit a costly double fault in the third set's second game, falling 2-0 behind. Still, Holger fired a forehand down the line winner in the third game, pulling the break back and causing Novak's frustration and two broken racquets.
Djokovic started all over and secured a break in the sixth game after forcing the rival's mistake. The Serb opened a 5-2 gap with a service winner and served for the victory at 5-3. Novak earned three match points and sealed the deal on the first after a forehand crosscourt winner.