Novak Djokovic advanced to the semi-final of the ATP Finals thanks to Jannik Sinner – the man who conquered him in a tight three-set match earlier in the week. After dropping a set to Hubert Hurkacz earlier on Thursday, the world No 1’s survival in the tournament hinged on Sinner beating Holger Rune. The match went down to the wire as Djokovic was just a couple of games from going out but the 22-year-old ultimately did his job, downing Rune 6-2 5-7 6-4.
Sinner took to the court in an unusual position, as his spot in the semi-final was confirmed. Instead it was Djokovic who was relying on the world No 4, as a Sinner victory would give the 36-year-old a spot in the semi-final but a Rune win would send the Dane to the semis and eliminate Djokovic.
The 22-year-old’s spot in the last four was confirmed when Hurkacz won a set against Djokovic in Thursday afternoon’s singles match. It sparked some debate over whether Sinner should exert himself against Rune when his position was secure instead of saving his energy. Others pointed out that eliminating Djokovic by losing could help Sinner win the title in the long run, preventing another meeting in the final.
But the home favourite quickly shut down any suggestions that he wouldn’t be trying hard as he broke Rune in the opening game, with the Italian fans breaking out into chants of “ole Sinner”. The Italian kept on rolling as he secured the double break and raced into a 4-0 lead while a flustered Rune could be seen communicating with his team, urging them to push him on even more.