Novak Djokovic admitted he is ‘not happy’ with himself after losing his cool and smashing two rackets during his ATP Finals opening victory over Casper Ruud on Sunday night. The tournament kicked off in Turin with Djokovic facing Ruud in a rematch of the 2022 final, which the Serbian won in straight sets. Their group stage clash was a much closer contest, though, as the world No 1 was taken to three sets before eventually seeing off the Norwegian.
The 36-year-old extended his incredible winning run to 19 matches since his defeat in the Wimbledon final, but it was far from a stroll in Turin. He let his frustrations out on his equipment during the third and final set, destroying the frame of two rackets, before going on to seal a 7-6 (4), 6-7 (1), 6-3 victory.
Djokovic had dropped his serve when taking a 2-0 lead in the deciding set and received a code violation from the umpire. However, it seemed to allow him to release any negative energy he was harvesting and recovered to lead 4-2 before sealing his victory.
Asked if he felt breaking rackets allowed him to start the next game or set with a clean slate, Djokovic gave an honest assessment of his behaviour and admitted he had some regrets with what transpired on court.
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“I mean, some people are saying that. If you want to use that word ‘pragmatic’ for me to do that because then I can release whatever tension I’m holding and frustration and move on, maybe that was the case tonight,” Djokovic said in his post-match press conference.
“But I wouldn’t encourage anybody doing that. Neither do I encourage myself. I’m not happy. I’m not happy with that. I definitely don’t like that I have done that, but I have done it and that is it and I have to take responsibility.
“I guess in some cases it has happened in the past where I do that and come back playing more freely, I guess, just letting go. There are different ways, maybe smarter ways to let go of the frustration than breaking a racket.”
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The victory means that Djokovic will end the year as world No 1 after an extraordinary year in which he has won 52 of his 57 of his matches on the ATP Tour and collected three more Majors to add to his collection of 24 Grand Slams.
And he expressed his delight at managing to secure his status in the end-of-year tournament ahead of Carlos Alcaraz.
“It’s huge. It means a lot obviously. I knew coming into the tournament here I needed only one win to clinch the year-end No. 1,” he added. “I really wanted that to happen already tonight. I didn’t want to prolong in a way the situation and complicate in a way this particular goal. I’m really glad that I managed to do that tonight.
“It always has been a huge objective and huge goal of mine to be No. 1 in the world. Other than Grand Slams, that’s what counts the most. To finish off the year as No. 1 in the world at this stage of my life and career is something really amazing.”
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