Burnout claims continue as Novak Djokovic beats Alexander Zverev at ATP finals

Novak Djokovic crushes Isner in ATP Finals opener

Our tennis columnist, Dan Weston, previews the two matches.

Djokovic, who will end the year as world number one for the fifth time in his career after a storming second half of the season, leads the Gustavo Kuerten group.

There was much hope that yesterday's match between the two players would make for a rare competitive encounter at The O2 arena, but the world No 1 Djokovic took full advantage of a Zverev capitulation to triumph 6-4, 6-1 in 67 minutes.

Zverev said earlier this week he won't be representing Germany because it's too tough an ask so late in the year.

Novak Djokovic of Serbia plays a return to Alexander Zverev of Germany during their ATP World Tour Finals men's singles tennis match at the O2 arena in London on November 14, 2018.

Neither player faced a break point in the first eight games and even when Zverev earned the first two in the ninth, Djokovic found a way to scramble out of trouble on both occasions.

Djokovic will now play Zverev on Wednesday afternoon with the victor likely to top their group, named after Brazilian clay court ace Guga Kuerten.

The Serb, 10 years older than his opponent, was made to work hard in an absorbing first set but Zverev's challenge crumbled at the O2 Arena as Djokovic won 6-4 6-1.

The barren run of close contests was finally broken last night, though, when Marin Cilic defeated John Isner 6-7 (2-7), 6-3, 6-4, which guaranteed Djokovic's qualification for the semi-finals.

Breaks of serve were exchanged in the second set before Cilic was required to save a match point at 4-5.

"A win is a win", the world No. 1, bidding for a record-equalling sixth title at the ATP's blue-riband event, told reporters.

Cilic's lead didn't last long, however, as an unforced error of his own gifted Zverev the break to bring it back to 4-4. You have to give him credit for that, qualifying for World Tour Finals two years in a row.

"Unfortunately, today hasn't been great in terms of that (illness)", Djokovic said.

Djokovic entered the match having lost only one of his past 23 matches and started strongly, winning the majority of rallies from behind the baseline.

Isner double-faulted to hand Cilic a decisive break in the eighth game of the second set and then did the same to gift Cilic a break at the start of the third. Well, she decided she doesn't want to compete at tennis, I wish her really all the best in any future endeavors that she has in her life.

The Serb is a red-hot favourite to draw level on six titles at the season finale with Federer, who faces an uphill task to reach the semifinals after his loss in his first round-robin match.

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