Novak Djokovic made a brutal start to his bid for a record fourth successive ATP Tour Finals title with a 6-1, 6-1 rout of Japan’s Kei Nishikori, while Roger Federer cruised to a 6-4, 6-2 win against Tomas Berdych on Sunday.
Defending champion Djokovic and six-time winner Federer have dominated the prestigious season-ending event for the last decade, lifting the trophy eight times between them in the last nine years.
Djokovic arrived at London’s O2 Arena hoping to win the title for a fifth time and in the process become the first player to lift the trophy four years in a row.
The world No 1 showed why he is the firm favourite to do just that, demolishing Nishikori in 65 minutes in the tournament’s opening match to record his 23rd successive win and take his tally got the year to an astonishing 79-5.
“No question I played some of the best tennis I’ve played this year,” Djokovic said.
Nishikori added: “He played unbelievable tennis. I’m very ashamed with this score, but I still have two more matches.”
Since losing to Federer in the Cincinnati final in August, Djokovic has been unbeatable and Nishikori never came close to inflicting his first Tour Finals defeat in 15 matches as the Serb secured a 38th consecutive indoor match victory.
Meanwhile Federer, the oldest Tour Finals qualifier since Andre Agassi in 2005, is undeniably in the twilight of his career, yet the 34-year-old is still good enough to compete for the sport’s top prizes and is in the hunt for a semifinal berth once again after easing past Berdych in 69 minutes.
Only Djokovic has won more Tour-level titles than Federer’s six this year and it was the brilliant Serb who denied the world No 3 when they met in the Wimbledon and US Open finals.