ATP FINALS – Novak Djokovic began Sunday the best way against Matteo Berrettini (6-2, 6-1) his quest for a sixth title at the Masters. For the 11th consecutive time in 12 participations, the Serb won his first group match, and stressed the importance of this experience to tackle the competition.
" In 2007, I lost all my matches"
Five times titled in the event and four times consecutively in London between 2012 and 2015, the "Djoker" is no longer a beginner for a long time. But to be there too, he knows what his opponent felt, novice in the exercise, when he came on the court. "I remember that it was in 2007 that I played the Masters for the first time in Shanghai, and it seems to me that I had lost all my group matches. I was with Rafael Nadal and David Ferrer … But I was tense. I was very proud to be part of this elite of eight players, but the environment was new to me. (…) It's a lot of mental pressure to know that you have to play your best tennis, whereas we, who have been at this level for many years, have the experience. "
Still sounded on his side, Berrettini preferred to dwell on the performance of his opponent rather than talk about his personal case. After meeting Roger Federer at Wimbledon and Rafael Nadal at the US Open, he discovered the third monster on the circuit. "I think he was returning incredibly well, that was what impressed me the most. I learned a lot from Roger and Rafa. And I will learn a lot from him. We played flat, fast and he moved better than me. It was hard to win the points. But I think I played a good game, I feel pretty confident", he said, to give the change for the rest of the week.
After this inaugural slap, we will watch carefully the reaction of the Italian in his next two matches. Already corrected in London by Federer (but on turf), he had passed a course in the next Grand Slam, reaching the final square at Flushing Meadows. Berrettini is learning fast, but will 48h be enough to put him back on his feet? If he did, the feat would not be slim, especially after the grueling sprint he had to deliver to get the right to participate in the party.