Djokovic matches Federer’s record with 6th ATP Finals title

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TURIN, Italy – Novak Djokovic claimed a record-equaling sixth ATP Finals title by beating the third-seeded Casper Ruud to top a fantastic finish to the season for the Serb.

Djokovic won 7-5, 6-3 to secure his first title at the event since 2015 and match Roger Federer’s record.

The 35-year-old Djokovic, who had lost his two previous finals at the event, raised his arms out and smiled broadly after sealing the match with an ace.

“Seven years has been a long time,” Djokovic said. “At the same time, the fact that I waited seven years makes this victory even sweeter and even bigger.

“A lot of nerves … I missed a couple of forehands in the last game when I was serving for it. I had nerves, but I am really grateful to be able to serve the match out. I had a big ace to close out.”

Djokovic became the oldest champion at the prestigious year-end tournament and also earned the largest payday in tennis history as he walked away with $4.7 million for claiming the ATP Finals trophy undefeated.

“I made him run, made him play,” Djokovic said. “I was looking to be very aggressive and it worked great. I am really pleased with the performance.”

It was Ruud’s fourth defeat in a major championship match this year after also losing finals at Miami, Roland Garros and the U.S. Open. Ruud has never won a set against Djokovic in four meetings.

“In the end it’s been disappointing to end up losing these big finals,” Ruud said. “Overall, if you gave me an offer to end the year at No. 3, play the finals that I’ve played, at the 1st of January this year I would probably sign the contract right away. No doubt about it.

“It gives me motivation and a hunger to maybe next time – if I ever get to another final like this – I hope I can learn from what I have done this year and not been able to do and see how it goes.”

Djokovic started strongly in Turin and had two break points in Ruud’s very first service game. The Norwegian managed to recover although he was also forced to save another break point in the eighth game.

Djokovic finally broke Ruud’s serve at the fourth time of asking. And it was at a crucial moment, on set point, and he ecstatically pumped his fist in the air after Ruud sent a backhand long.

The seventh-seeded Djokovic broke again in the fourth game of the second set and there was no way back for Ruud.

Djokovic has ended the year with an 18-1 record after winning trophies in Tel Aviv and Astana before reaching the Paris Masters final. His five titles this season also include triumphs at Wimbledon and in Rome.

And his coach, former second-ranked Goran Ivanisevic, had a stark warning for Djokovic’s rivals.

“He’s practicing even harder than when he was 22,” Ivanisevic said. “That’s why he’s still so good and that’s why he’s still going to be even better.”

Davis Cup: Australia beats Croatia 2-1 to reach final

Day Four - Davis Cup Finals 2022
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MALAGA, Spain – Australia had to fight back twice to reach its first Davis Cup final in 19 years after beating Croatia 2-1 on Friday.

Lleyton Hewitt’s team recovered from losing the first singles. Then the Australian doubles pair battled back from a set down in the decider.

Australia won its 28th and last title in 2003. It has finally got back to the final.

“I am so proud. Australia has a really rich history in this competition,” said Hewitt, who played a record 43 Davis Cup ties for Australia from 1999-2018.

“We have been fortunate to win it all on a number of occasions a long time ago. And I know what it meant to me as a player to play a final, and I am glad these guys can play it.”

Borna Coric put Croatia ahead by beating Thanasi Kokkinakis 6-4, 6-3, but Alex de Minaur leveled after defeating Marin Cilic 6-2, 6-2 to send it to the doubles.

Jordan Thompson and Max Purcell then secured the semifinal win against Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic by 6-7 (3), 7-5, 6-4.

“This is what this team is about, that never-say-die attitude,” De Minaur said.

Canada will face Italy on Saturday in the other semifinal.

In the opener, Kokkinakis struck 11 aces, but Coric was able to break him once in each set.

“On my serve, I felt like it was an ace or he put it back on my toes,” Kokkinakis said.

Cilic, who was on the Croatia team that won the title in 2018, committed 10 double faults. That erratic serve helped De Minaur break Cilic four times and level his head-to-head record with the former U.S Open winner at two wins each.

Thompson and Purcell bettered the more experienced pair of Mektic and Pavic, both ranked in the top 10 in doubles. Thompson and Purcell combined for 13 aces, broke the Croats twice, and never dropped a service game to come back after losing the first-set tiebreaker.

Two-time winner Croatia was the runner-up last year.

“It proved too difficult on the court today,” Cilic said. “(But) for us it has been a great year again after the finals last year to reach the semis.”

The final is on Sunday on the indoor court in Malaga.

Italy beats U.S. to reach Davis Cup semifinal with Canada

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MALAGA, Spain — Italy beat the United States in a doubles decider to advance to the Davis Cup semifinals for the first time in eight years.

Simone Bolelli and Fabio Fognini defeated Tommy Paul and Jack Sock 6-4, 6-4 to secure a 2-1 win for Italy after the teams split the singles matches.

Bolelli and Fognini broke once in each set to set up a semifinal against Canada, which beat Germany 2-1.

Earlier, Lorenzo Sonego used his big serve to defeat Frances Tiafoe 6-3, 7-6 (7) and give the Italians a 1-0 lead. Taylor Fritz pulled the U.S. level after beating Lorenzo Musetti 7-6 (8), 6-3.

The U.S. holds a record 32 Davis Cup trophies, but its last one came in 2007 under the previous format of best-of-five matches played in host countries instead of the revamped event where the final eight teams gather in one spot for a week of tennis. The American team led by captain Mardy Fish came to Spain with high hopes that it could break that dry spell.

“I have wanted to win this thing for a very long time as a player and captain,” Fish said. “It is not going to happen this year and it stinks. We are going home without the trophy, which is a bummer.”

Italy, whose only Davis Cup title came in 1976, won without its top two players as Jannik Sinner has an injured finger and Matteo Berrettini is recovering from a foot problem.

Sonego, ranked No. 45, struck 17 aces and never ceded a service game to Tiafoe. Sonego clinched the win after Tiafoe netted a forehand following a long rally to end the second-set tiebreaker.

No. 19-ranked Tiafoe, who reached the U.S. Open semifinals in September, won their only previous meeting at the Paris Masters just over three weeks ago.

This time Sonego took the initiative, Tiafoe said.

“A couple of weeks ago I was playing very aggressive, running him around, hitting much harder. Today, he was,” Tiafoe said.

Sonego saved two set points while serving at 6-5 in the second set to force the tiebreaker. He said he drew on the loud Italian fans who showed up to support him in Spain, which is home to more than 250,000 Italians.

“I am really proud of my team and of this unbelievable crowd, it looks like we are in Italy. They support us from the beginning,” said Italy captain Filippo Volandri.

Fritz hit 12 aces and had one break to beat the No. 23-ranked Musetti for a second time after defeating him at Wimbledon in June.

Canada’s Denis Shapovalov rebounded from losing his opening singles match to help clinch the winning point in doubles against Germany.

Germany’s Jan-Lennard Struff, ranked 152nd, beat the No. 18-ranked Shapovalov 6-3, 4-6, 7-6 (2) in the opener. Felix Auger-Aliassime kept Canada’s hopes alive with his 7-6 (1), 6-4 victory over Oscar Otte, sending it to doubles.

Shapovalov then teamed up with Vasek Pospisil to beat Kevin Krawietz and Tim Puetz 2-6, 6-3, 6-3.

A Croatia team led by Marin Cilic advanced to the other semifinal after beating a Spain side that was missing Rafael Nadal and No. 1-ranked Carlos Alcaraz.

Croatia will face Australia in the other semifinal.