Jannik Sinner did Novak Djokovic a big favor on Thursday. After the Serbian won in three sets against Hubert Hurkacz, a result with which he stopped depending on himself to advance to the semifinals of the traditional masters tournament, the Italian defeated Holger Rune (2-6, 7-5 and 6- 4) and allowed the Serbian to play his twelfth semifinals this Saturday in this competition now known as the ATP Finals that are held on the Alpitour courts in Turin.
Djokovic condemned himself to suffer and uncertainty when he couldn’t beat the Polish Hubert Hurkacz in two sets (7-6 (1), 4-6 and 6-1). The Serbian defeated the 24 direct serves of the debutant, who entered due to the absence of Stefanos Tsitsipas due to injury, but to certify his passage to the semifinals without depending on third parties he needed to win in two sets. Once Hurkacz won the second set, the result of the third no longer mattered beyond deciding who would win the 200 points and the 390,000 euros prize.
“I’m not going to watch the Sinner match,” Djokovic exclaimed. “My job is done,” added the tennis player from Belgrade. In any case, he maintains a perfect record against Hurkacz – he has won all seven meetings between them – and has not fallen in the round robin of the masters tournament since 2019.
An unviable fix
That result caused the Italian Jannik Sinner and the Danish Holger Rune to jump onto the track with rumors of ‘biscotto’. Sinner, already qualified, would let himself go against the Dane, he would eliminate Djokovic, a six-time champion of the tournament and a rival to beat, not in vain the Serbian has won 20 of the last 21 matches he has played. But playing at home, with points and money at stake, and against a Rune team that he had never beaten and that this year beat him dramatically in Monte Carlo, the compromise option was unviable.
This was demonstrated by Sinner during a set and a half in which he pulverized Rune. Until some discomfort in the lower back lowered the performance of the transalpine, he gave up the second set and scared Djokovic. If Sinner couldn’t continue or if Rune took the third set, the reigning champion would be eliminated.
However, the Italian’s discomfort disappeared and, after saving a break ball with 3-4 down that was practically match point, he broke Rune’s serve and took the match. Sinner remains undefeated and is eligible for the special prize of whoever wins the tournament without losing a single match, 4.8 million euros and 1,500 points. He will be accompanied by Djokovic, with whom he can meet in Sunday’s final if they both overcome their semifinal.
The accounts of Alcaraz
Carlos Alcaraz will play this Friday (2:30 p.m. Spanish time) his third match in the group stage of the ATP Finals (formerly the Masters Cup) against the Russian Daniil Medvedev, already qualified for the semifinals. The Muscovite, with his victory in two sets against Alexander Zverev, in addition to the victory also in two sets against Andrey Rublev, has already secured a ticket to the semifinals.
In the case of the Murcian, he will qualify as second and will face Sinner if he beats Medvedev. But if he falls to the Russian, with whom he has a head-to-head tie at three, he will need Zverev to lose to Rublev in the other group match, which will be played at 9:00 p.m. Spanish time. Another more bizarre option is for Alcaraz to beat Medvedev in three sets and Zverev knock down Rublev in two sets. In this scenario, the percentage of games won and lost would be taken into account to determine the first and second position in the group.