World No.1 Novak Djokovic toyed withbig-serving John Isner to beat him in straight sets at the ATP World Finals
London: Novak Djokovic sent out a warning to his rivals at the ATP Finals on Monday, brushing aside big-serving John Isner 6-4, 6-3 to launch his bid for a record-equalling sixth ATP Finals title in style.
Earlier, in the same Guga Kuerten group, Alexander Zverev made it six consecutive wins against Marin Cilic in a contest at London’s O2 Arena featuring scores of unforced errors.
World number one Djokovic, though, was playing a different game, appearing little troubled by the howitzers coming off the giant Isner’s racquet, breaking his opponent three times and not conceding a single break point on his own serve.
In stark contrast to second seed Roger Federer, who produced an error-strewn performance in defeat to Kei Nishikori on Sunday, Djokovic hit just six unforced errors and won 86 percent of points on his serve, making a mockery of the apparent challenging nature of the playing surface.
With Cristiano Ronaldo watching on, the top seed broke Isner in the fifth game of the first set to establish a stranglehold and never looked like allowing the American eighth seed back into the contest, breaking twice more in the second set to win in 73 minutes.
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 match.
Earlier, Zverev kept his nerve at the key moments to beat Marin Cilic 7-6 (7/5), 7-6 (7/1), recovering from a break down in each set.
The 30-year-old Cilic, who has a reputation for faltering under intense pressure, broke first but the German hit back, going on to edge the tie-break.
In the second set, the Croatian again drew first blood but third-seed Zverev, 21, responded immediately and dominated the tie-break to seal the match.
There were a total of 78 unforced errors in the contest — Australian Open finalist Cilic hitting 46 of those — as both players struggled to adapt to the court conditions.
Anderson on fire
In another match, Kevin Anderson handed Japan’s Kei Nishikori a humiliating 6-0, 6-1 thrashing as the South African moved to the brink of a semi-final berth on Tuesday.
Anderson won the first 11 games and needed only 64 minutes to demolish the woeful Nishikori in a remarkably one-sided group stage clash.
Having also won his opening match against Dominic Thiem in his debut at the prestigious season-ending event, Anderson is close to becoming the first African to qualify for the last four at the ATP Finals. His place will be secure if Thiem beats Roger Federer, or if Federer defeats Thiem in three sets later.