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Djokovic sends Greek crashing

TURIN, Italy (AFP) — Novak Djokovic had enough of an edge at the beginning and the end as he beat Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-4, 7-6 (7/4) in the ATP Finals, a defeat that ended the Greek’s hopes of finishing the year at No. 1.

Djokovic is ranked just eighth in part because he missed two majors over his vaccination status, starting the year by being thrown out of Australia ahead of the Australian Open.

Reports have it that he will be granted a visa to play in the 2023 Australian Open tennis grand slam tournament despite his deportation from the country in January.

The Australian government had decided to grant the unvaccinated Djokovic a visa, said national broadcaster ABC and other media.

A legal battle over his vaccination status prevented him playing in this year’s tournament in Melbourne.

In Turin, Djokovic is chasing a record-tying sixth title in the season-ending event, previously known as the Masters Cup, that brings together the season’s top eight fit players.

The Serbian broke Tsitsipas in the opening game and was not threatened on his own serve as he took the first set.

“The first game was very important to break his serve,” Djokovic said.

“Starting with a break of serve is obviously a huge boost in confidence and a relief as well because we both knew it would be a tight match.”

Tsitsipas managed the only break point of the second set, in the fourth game, after two Djokovic double faults, but the Serbian steadied and held serve.

In the tie break, the Serbian raced to a 5-1 lead. Tsitsipas delayed the inevitable by taking three points before Djokovic took his first match point.

“I held my serve really well throughout the match,” Djokovic said.

“I played a great tie-break, very solid all the way through.”

The Tsitsipas loss means the injured Carlos Alcaraz will end 2022 at the top of the rankings unless Rafael Nadal, who lost his opening match on Sunday, can win the tournament.

Tsitsipas, who is 24, cannot collect enough points to reach number one even if he rebounds to win the tournament.

“I deeply believe that I can reach that spot one day,” he said.

“I’m not really that much in a rush, to be honest. Of course, it would have been better if it happened this week.”

Djokovic is tied with five titles in the event with Pete Sampras and Ivan Lendl. Only Roger Federer, out of six, has won more.

“All the players said it. Every match is finals here, there’s no clear favorites to be honest,” Djokovic said.

“You have to be really sharp from the start.”

The two-set victory put Djokovic atop the Red Group ahead of the day’s other winner, No. 7 Andrey Rublev of Russia, who beat his compatriot Daniil Medvedev 6-7 (7/9), 6-3, 7-6 (9/7).

Rublev appeared on course to take the first set as he opened up a 4-1 lead.

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