Novak Djokovic will almost certainly finish the year at the top of the ATP world rankings for a joint-record sixth time after he claimed a hard-fought win over Borna Coric at the Vienna Open. 

Djokovic needed to win just two matches in Austria to guarantee he will end the year as world number one, unless Rafael Nadal takes up an unlikely wildcard for the Sofia Open. 

After defeating Filip Krajinovic in the first round, Djokovic took a vital step towards cementing his name in the record books with a 7-6 (13-11) 6-3 victory over Coric on Wednesday. 

Pete Sampras is the only previous player to have claimed the year-end number one spot on six occasions, doing so between 1993 and 1998. 

Djokovic is tied with fellow modern greats Rodger Federer and Nadal, who the Serbian lost to in the French Open earlier in October, and Jimmy Connors, but is now set to nose ahead of his rivals, having previously secured top spot in 2011, 2012, 2014, 2015 and 2018. 

His latest win did not come easy, though, with the 33-year-old made to work by world number 24 Coric. 

The pair traded blows in an epic opening set which lasted just under two hours – Djokovic eventually coming out on top in a thrilling tie-break after Coric dropped serve for a third time. 

A first break in set two handed Djokovic the advantage and he then held his nerve to take the eighth game with some wonderful shots in an exhilarating rally, making it 5-3. 

Djokovic's sublime volley close to the net set the tone in the next game and while Coric saved two match points, it was only a case of delaying the inevitable.

Earlier, Stefanos Tsitsipas opted to switch his shoe in the third set of his match with Jan-Lennard Struff, though the third seed ultimately came through the contest to tee up a tie with Grigor Dimitrov. 

With the third set tied at 1-1, Nitto ATP Finals champion Tsitsipas changed his footwear and subsequently broke serve, going on to record a 6-7 (7-3) 6-3 6-4 triumph. 

Daniil Medvedev, meanwhile, is enjoying the hospitality in Austria as he eased past Jason Jung 6-3 6-1 in his first-round match. 

"It's great. The hotel is good, the food is amazing, maybe the best of the year," said the world number six. 

"These small things make tennis players happy all the time. The most important is to play good on the tennis court, so the organisation is very good."

Novak Djokovic battled to a straight-sets win over compatriot Filip Krajinovic in the opening round of the Vienna Open. 

The world number one, competing in the Austrian event for the first time since winning it in 2007, saved a set point in a tie-break during the opener on his way to a 7-6 (8-6) 6-3 triumph. 

He had to work hard as Krajinovic, who lost to Djokovic in last month's Italian Open at the last-16 stage, twice broke serve in a tight opener, helping establish a 5-3 lead at one point. 

Djokovic hit back in the 10th game to break his opponent for a second time as the opener went to a tie-break, which he edged 8-6 after Krajinovic failed to convert an opportunity when 6-5 up. 

The second set was far more straightforward for the 33-year-old, however, as he held serve throughout and broke Krajinovic once to progress through.

"We practiced a few times [together] before coming to Vienna," Djokovic revealed in his on-court interview. 

"The draw was tough for us to face each other, but there is always extra pressure and importance to a match when you play someone that you know very well."

Borna Coric is up next for Djokovic after the world number 26 beat Taylor Fritz on the opening day of action. 

Elsewhere on Tuesday, Grigor Dimitrov held off fellow top-20 player Karen Khachanov 7-6 (8-6) 6-3 in a competitive match, while Hubert Hurkacz beat Attila Balazs in straight sets. 

Dan Evans also advanced to the last 16, where Jurij Rodionov awaits, after Aljaz Bedene withdrew with a thigh complaint when a set down.

Andrey Rublev's quest for a third title since the US Open began in solid fashion as he comfortably saw off Norbert Gombos in straight sets on day one of the star-studded Vienna Open.

Fifth-seed Rublev, victorious in Hamburg and St Petersburg in recent weeks, was the highest-ranked player in action on Monday and never looked in any danger of being on the wrong end of an upset, coming through 6-3 6-2.

He broke Gombos in the second game of the match and did not have to save any break points in return across the entire contest.

Gombos dropped his serve again early in the second and that effectively doomed him, as Rublev – who is closing in one of the last two spots at the ATP Finals – cruised to victory. Casper Ruud or Jannik Sinner await in the last 16.

Gael Monfils' hopes of reaching the season-ending tournament took a hit, however, as injury forced him to bow out while 6-1 2-0 down to Pablo Carreno-Busta, who is also in with an outside chance of qualifying.

Eighth-seed Denis Shapovalov crashed out 6-4 7-5 to wildcard Jurij Rodionov, while Borna Coric beat Taylor Fritz 6-4 6-4. He will face either world number one Novak Djokovic or Filip Krajinovic.

Among the other big names competing in Austria are Stefanos Tsitsipas, Daniil Medvedev and Dominic Thiem.

Rafael Nadal is unsure whether he will play again this year as he basks in the "beautiful" feeling of sharing the record for men's grand slam singles titles with Roger Federer.

Nadal produced another masterclass at Roland Garros on Sunday, beating old foe Novak Djokovic 6-0 6-2 7-5 to win his favourite tournament for an astonishing 13th time.

The Spanish great also moved level with Federer's tally of 20 major triumphs, outclassing world number one Djokovic in Paris.

Nadal skipped the US Open, as he was not comfortable travelling to New York amid the coronavirus pandemic, before making his return to the ATP Tour in Rome in September following an absence of seven months.

The 34-year-old will soon turn his attention to deciding when he will next be in action, following another sublime performance on Court Philippe-Chatrier.

Novak Djokovic insists he had no fitness complaints during the French Open final and simply lost to a "perfect" performance from Rafael Nadal.

World number one Djokovic lost a completed match for the first time this year as he remarkably went down 6-0 6-2 7-5.

Nadal dominated Sunday's match to claim his 13th Roland Garros title and 20th grand slam championship in total, equalling Roger Federer's record.

Djokovic had been battling neck and shoulder issues in the quarter-finals earlier in the week, wearing tape, repeatedly stretching out his left arm and also receiving treatment as he beat Pablo Carreno Busta.

The Serbian had no desire to look for excuses against Nadal, though, and instead paid tribute to his opponent.

"No, no, I was fine. Everything was okay," Djokovic told a news conference. "I was ready for this match.

"It's just that I was outplayed. I was beaten by a guy who was just perfect today - especially the first two sets. That's all there is to it.

"I will absolutely not find any other justification for this loss. He was just better.

"Straight-sets victory, yeah. It's a grand slam final, but playing Rafa on clay, you play Rafa, who is playing the way he's playing, it's tough to get a set off him.

"I thought third set was a chance, but I just didn't use it."

Despite Nadal's incredible record at the French Open, where he has not lost in more than five years, Djokovic admits he was surprised by his standard.

"I felt well throughout the entire tournament. I thought I was in a great form," he said. "Certainly I could have played better, especially in the first two sets.

"But he did surprise me with the way he was playing, the quality of tennis he was producing, the level. He's phenomenal."

Roger Federer hopes both he and Rafael Nadal can kick on from 20 grand slam titles after the Spaniard joined his rival on the landmark number.

Federer has long led the way for men's singles championships, yet a two-year drought allowed Nadal to close the gap.

The world number two then won the French Open final on Sunday against Novak Djokovic - a dominant 6-0 6-2 7-5 success - to match Federer's record tally.

It was a 13th triumph at Roland Garros, too, and Federer said he was only too happy to welcome Nadal to the top of the standings.

"I have always had the utmost respect for my friend Rafa as a person and as a champion," Federer wrote in a message posted to his Twitter page.

"As my greatest rival over many years, I believe we have pushed each other to become better players. Therefore, it is a true honour for me to congratulate him on his 20th grand slam victory.

"It is especially amazing that he has now won Roland Garros an incredible 13 times, which is one of the greatest achievements in sport.

"I also congratulate his team, because nobody can do this alone.

"I hope 20 is just another step on the continuing journey for both of us. Well done, Rafa. You deserve it."

Federer will end 2020 without winning an ATP Tour event as he recovers from arthroscopic knee surgery.

Rafael Nadal brushed away talk of his record-equalling haul of grand slam triumphs as he focused on his Roland Garros "love story" after another French Open win.

Nadal thrashed world number one Novak Djokovic 6-0 6-2 7-5 to match Roger Federer's total of 20 men's singles titles at the tennis majors.

It was the Spaniard's 13th success on the red clay of Paris, raising his own benchmark further, and his long relationship with the crowd in France was at the forefront of the champion's mind.

"To win here means everything to me," Nadal said. "It's not the moment - honestly not for me - to think about the 20th, equalling Roger or this great number.

"For me, today is just a Roland Garros victory. Roland Garros means everything to me.

"I spent the most important moments of my tennis career here. I just want to say thank you very, very much to everybody here.

"For me, just to play here is a true inspiration. The love story I have with this city and this court is unforgettable."

So dominant was Nadal's latest win on Court Philippe-Chatrier that he apologised to rival Djokovic, who had not lost a completed match up to this point in 2020.

"Congrats to Novak for another great tournament," Nadal said. "Sorry for today. In Australia, he killed me a couple of times ago. Today was for me.

"That's part of the game. We've played plenty of times together - one day one wins, another day the other. So all the best for the future, Novak."

Djokovic acknowledged he had been completely outclassed.

"I want to say a huge congratulations to Rafa and your team and your family, of course," the top seed said in his post-final speech.

"What you are doing on this court is unbelievable - but not just this court. Throughout your entire career, you've been a great champion.

"Today you showed why you're king of the clay. I experienced it with my own skin.

"It was a very tough match for me today - obviously I am not so pleased with the way I played - but I was definitely outplayed by a better player today on the court."

Rafael Nadal matched Roger Federer's record of 20 grand slam singles titles and secured a 100th match victory at the French Open as he thrashed Novak Djokovic in the Roland Garros final.

A 6-0 6-2 7-5 defeat of the world number one gave Nadal a 13th major on the Paris clay, extending his own record for the most titles won by a player at a single grand slam.

It also meant that for the fourth time he went through the entire draw without dropping a set.

The career of the great Spaniard invites close examination to fully appreciate the prowess that has seen him run up such astonishing numbers.

Here is how he has staked a strong claim to be regarded among the greatest tennis players of all time - and unquestionably the king of clay.

DREAM DEBUT TO SERIAL THRILLER

Nadal turned 19 two days before winning his first French Open title, which came in 2005, on his debut appearance in the tournament.

His record on the Roland Garros clay shows Nadal has now won an astonishing 100 matches and lost only twice, with Robin Soderling and Djokovic the only men to defeat him. Djokovic sits second on the list in Paris, with 74 wins.

Of those 100 wins for Nadal, an incredible 81 have come without him dropping a set, 17 have come in four sets, and on two occasions he has won in five.

He has had 27 victories against players ranked inside the top 10 during his century of French successes and has never lost when he has reached the semi-final stage.

Sunday's win was a seventh for Nadal in eight Roland Garros clashes with Djokovic, and a third success in a French Open final against the Serbian after their 2012 and 2014 title matches.

In the men's game, Federer had been the only man to rack up 100 or more match wins in a single grand slam prior to Nadal joining him.

The Swiss veteran has won 102 matches at the Australian Open and 101 at Wimbledon.

ANOTHER LANDMARK LOOMING

Nadal has now moved to 999 career wins across all tournaments, with 201 defeats, and has captured 86 titles.

In the titles reckoning he sits fourth in the Open Era (behind Jimmy Connors' 109, Federer's 103 and Ivan Lendl's 94). A startling 60 of those titles from Nadal have come on clay.

Mallorca's favourite son has been a fixture in the top 10 on the ATP Tour since first breaking through to that level in April 2005 and has spent 209 weeks at world number one, a position he last occupied before last year's Australian Open.

He has won one Australian Open title, 13 now in Paris, two at Wimbledon and four at the US Open.

NADAL THE G.O.A.T.?

It still feels too early to make a call on which of the Big Three will be remembered as the greatest of all time, or more specifically of their era.

They each own a host of astounding records, but if all three were to finish their careers with 20 grand slams, which is not beyond the realms of possibility, then one tie-breaker might be their head-to-heads in the grand slams.

Nadal can point to a 10-4 winning record against Federer in the four majors, and now a 10-6 lead over Djokovic.

Before Sunday, he had lost his last three grand slam clashes with the man from Belgrade, but Nadal will now take some reining in.

Rafael Nadal equalled Roger Federer's record of 20 grand slam men's singles titles with his latest stunning French Open victory over Novak Djokovic on Sunday.

Nadal's remarkable record of Roland Garros success continued courtesy of an astonishing 6-0 6-2 7-5 win against the world number one on Philippe Chatrier.

Thirteen of the Spaniard's major triumphs have come on the red clay in Paris, where he has lost only twice - never in a final and not at all since the last eight in 2015 against Djokovic.

A 999th top-level victory and 100th at this event never looked to be in doubt as Nadal seized control from the outset to win the French Open without dropping a set across the tournament for the fourth time.

This was just Djokovic's second defeat of the season but came in a far more clinical manner than the first, when he was defaulted from the US Open for striking a line judge with the ball.

Djokovic - a 17-time grand slam champion - had swiftly sought to put Nadal to work with a series of drop shots, but the defending champion responded in typically masterful fashion and raced into a two-break lead in the opener.

Although the sort of brave defence so often associated with Djokovic was again on display, prompting some staggering rallies, he could not make significant progress against the Nadal serve and subsequently collapsed from 40-0 up on his own.

The Serbian deserved better than a first-set bagel - the first in a men's major final since 2006 - yet soon trailed again in the second, sending a tired forehand into the net at the end of another draining game.

Djokovic puffed out his cheeks as Nadal refused to relent, breaking once more and coasting through the remainder of another straightforward set to bring the Musketeers' Cup firmly into view.

The top seed dug in at the start of the third and even quickly recovered to level the set after a meek break to love granted Nadal complete command.

Djokovic's renewed resilience briefly kept his opponent at bay, but a contentious double-fault proved the decisive blow and Nadal served out the championship to love with an ace to match Federer, a man five years his senior who has not won an ATP Tour event in 2020 and continues to recover from arthroscopic knee surgery.

Margaret Court's overall record of 24 singles major championships is surely now in the king of clay's sights.


Data Slam: Stunning start sets the tone

For much of the 48-minute opening set, Djokovic gave as good as he got. But Nadal dominated in key areas - Djokovic's first serve was at 42 per cent, while he won just three of 18 short rallies - to result in a one-sided scoreline. Only twice has this rivalry produced a 6-0 set, the other coming as Nadal also raced into a lead in last year's Internazionali d'Italia final.

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS
Nadal – 31/14
Djokovic – 38/52

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS
Nadal – 4/1
Djokovic – 1/4

BREAK POINTS WON
Nadal – 7/18
Djokovic – 1/5

Rafael Nadal dominated Novak Djokovic 6-0 6-2 7-5 in the French Open final on Sunday to tie Roger Federer's record of 20 grand slam titles.

Novak Djokovic is relishing what he believes could be the biggest challenge in sport of facing his "greatest rival" Rafael Nadal in the French Open final on Sunday.

Top seed Djokovic overcame a Stefanos Tsitsipas fightback to win the second semi-final 6-3 6-2 5-7 4-6 6-1 at Roland Garros on Friday after Nadal beat Diego Schwartzman in straight sets.

The world number one will do battle with 12-time French Open champion Nadal in a mouth-watering clash of the titans on Court Philippe-Chatrier this weekend.

Djokovic has won 29 of the 55 meetings between two of the all-time greats, while the Serb and Robin Soderling are the only players to have beaten the Spaniard in the Paris grand slam.

Nadal has never lost a final at a major he has dominated, and Djokovic is well aware of the size of the challenge he will face when he attempts to deny the 'King of Clay' a record-equalling 20th grand slam triumph.

Djokovic, a winner of 17 majors but only one at Roland Garros in 2016, said in his on-court interview: "It's his [Nadal's] home. And with all the titles he's won. But I remember I beat him in the quarter-finals in 2015.

"I hope to recover. It's the biggest challenge, perhaps in sport, to play Nadal here at Roland Garros but I am motivated to win."

Asked to elaborate on those comments in his news conference, Djokovic replied: "Well, isn't it obvious? He won this tournament so many times that I don't think any player has won that many times any tournament.

"He's lost twice in his entire career on this court. Obviously the conditions are different than the ones that we are used to playing in May and June. I think that could be a better chance for me, obviously the ball not bouncing as high over the shoulder as he likes it usually.

"Regardless of the conditions, he's still there, he's Rafa, he's in the final and we're playing on clay. Best-of-five playing him in the finals at Roland Garros, I know that feeling. I did lose to him on this court most of the matches that we played, but I also won one match in 2015 in straight sets in quarters.

"That's the match that I'll look back at and obviously try to take some positives out of it and use it tactically against him. I'm not feeling exhausted physically so much after tonight's match, obviously almost four hours. It was a great battle.

"But I feel fine. I think a day and a half will be plenty of time for me to recover. I'm really looking forward to a great battle with Rafa."

Djokovic added: "I've played him more than I played any other player in my professional career. I think our head-to-head is the biggest head-to-head ever in the history of the sport.

"He's definitely my greatest rival. Playing him in so many great matches, of course the past will have some effect in terms of respect towards each other, I guess motivation to get out on the court and play your best, knowing that we both have to be at our best in order to win against each other.

"So I think that's where the past will play its offensive line. Not more than that, to be honest, because I think we are both experienced enough to really approach matches like this focusing only what is ahead of us."

Rafael Nadal's history with Novak Djokovic makes Sunday's French Open final between the pair a mouth-watering prospect, but the Spaniard insists his focus will be on bringing his 'A' game.

Djokovic is one of only two players to defeat Nadal at Roland Garros and he awaits in a dream Paris showdown after the pair came through their semi-finals - the latter after a five-set slog with Stefanos Tsitsipas.

Nadal, who was up first and beat Diego Schwartzman to advance to his 13th French Open final, spoke ahead of Djokovic's win.

Asked if his previous run-ins with the Serbian would play a part in this weekend's tussle, Nadal said: "I don't think so. Different circumstances, different kind of tournament and different situation. I don't know. 

"I will let you know on Sunday. I can't predict the future. The only thing I know is to play against Novak, I need to play my best. 

"Without playing my best tennis, the situation is very difficult. I know that is a court that I have been playing well for such a long time, so that helps. 

"But at the same time, he has an amazing record here, too, being in the final rounds almost every single time. He is one of the toughest opponents possible. 

"I am here to keep trying my best. I like to play in this scenario. I know I have to make a step forward. I think I did one today. 

"But for Sunday it is not enough. I need to make another one. That's what I'm looking for. I'm going to work hard to try to make that happen."

Novak Djokovic will face Rafael Nadal in Sunday's French Open final after battling past Stefanos Tsitsipas in five sets.

With the upper-body issues that hampered his quarter-final win over Pablo Carreno Busta apparently behind him, the world number one still had to dig deep in Friday's semi-final to see off Tsitsipas, who had won 27 matches this year and had looked imperious against Andrey Rublev in the previous round.

Tsitsipas rallied from match point down in the third set to force Djokovic to go the distance in his quest to reach a first grand slam final, but the 17-time major winner wrestled momentum back to claim a 6-3 6-2 5-7 4-6 6-1 victory.

The 33-year-old, who is 216-1 in grand slam matches after winning the first two sets, eventually completed the job after three hours and 54 minutes as he set up a meeting with old foe Nadal in what will be his 27th major final.

Djokovic saved four break points in the opening game before moving 4-1 ahead and again held off a stern challenge on serve to make it 5-2 on Court Philippe-Chatrier.

The 2016 champion's drop shot appeared on point, with two more in game nine helping him close out the opening set despite one or two loose groundstrokes.

Tsitsipas was arguably playing the better tennis by the early stages of the second set, but it was Djokovic who was producing the goods at the key points. Some remarkable defensive work and a brilliant cross-court backhand winner saw him set up just his second break point after trailing 0-40, and he took it when Tsitsipas skied a forehand after a net cord.

He consolidated to move 4-2 ahead and got the double break when Tsitsipas swung a forehand into the tramlines, serving out the set with back-to-back aces to assume control of the match.

Djokovic had match point on serve at 5-4 in the third but Tsitsipas suddenly struck back, at last getting a break of his own and then snatching the set with a ferocious forehand that clipped the baseline.

By now, it was Tsitsipas who was under siege on serve and Djokovic who could not make the breakthrough. He saw 10 break points come and go before sending a drop shot into the net at set point down as the contest entered an unlikely decider.

Djokovic at last broke the resistance early in the fifth, a dead-eyed drop shot and then a strangely errant service game from Tsitsipas giving the Serbian a double break. A third match point proved enough for the number one seed, a downcast Tsitsipas watching a second serve slapped beyond his reach.

Novak Djokovic was wary of revealing the full extent of his neck and shoulder injuries ahead of a French Open semi-final against Stefanos Tsitsipas.

World number one Djokovic reached the last four at Roland Garros on Wednesday after recovering from a set down to beat Pablo Carreno-Busta 4-6 6-2 6-3 6-4.

Djokovic was clearly hampered by fitness concerns, however, wearing tape on his neck, repeatedly stretching out his left arm and then receiving treatment in Paris midweek.

"I definitely didn't feel great coming into the court today. A few things happened in the warm-up," Djokovic explained afterwards.

"I had to deal with those physical issues coming onto the court. As the match went on, I felt better and didn't feel as much pain."

The Australian Open champion was pressed for further detail but, with his title tilt continuing, additional information remained scarce.

"I had some neck issues and some shoulder issues. I'll just say that," he said. "I don't want to get really too much into it.

"Obviously I'm still in the tournament, so I don't want to reveal too much.

"I'm feeling okay. I think as the match progressed, I warmed up by body and the pain kind of faded away. It allowed me to play better and better and feel better."

Victory was particularly sweet as it came against Carreno-Busta, Djokovic's opponent when he was defaulted from the US Open last month for striking a line judge with the ball.

It was put to the 33-year-old Serbian that match – his only defeat in 2020 – might have contributed to the slow start against Carreno-Busta, but he insisted the injuries were the sole cause.

"No, no, it wasn't that at all. It was something else," Djokovic said. "I actually just mentioned what was the issue. I had to deal with that.

"I told you guys many times I'm over it. I'm not thinking about it at all. I mean, zero per cent."

Novak Djokovic exorcised some of his Flushing Meadows demons by coming from a set down to beat Pablo Carreno-Busta in four sets in the French Open quarter-finals.

Carreno-Busta was Djokovic's fourth-round opponent at the US Open last month when the world number one was defaulted for striking a ball that inadvertently hit a line judge.

It looked like the Spaniard might find a way past the Serbian again at Roland Garros as he took the first set, with Djokovic clearly troubled by an apparent injury to his neck and upper left arm.

However, he fought through that and triumphed 4-6 6-2 6-3 6-4 in three hours and 10 minutes to set up a last-four showdown with Stefanos Tsitsipas, which will be Djokovic's 38th grand slam semi-final.

It was clear something was not right with Djokovic early on given that, as well as wearing tape on his neck, he continued to stretch and hit his left arm while struggling to make first serves.

Carreno-Busta forged ahead for the first time when Djokovic netted a forehand on serve and, though the Serbian would hit back to make it 4-4, the Spaniard claimed a second break before serving out the opener.

Djokovic received treatment on his left triceps between sets and that seemed to have the desired effect as he levelled up the match with an authoritative forehand that saw him break to love.

The previously subdued world number one had rediscovered his mojo and reeled off three straight games to seize the initiative in the third set, only for Carreno-Busta to fight back and then miss a forehand winner that would have put him a break up.

It was Djokovic who stepped up when it mattered, too, an ace dispatched down the middle putting him one set from victory.

A tireless Carreno-Busta then miscued at the net on serve to give a 4-3 advantage to Djokovic, who staved off three break points before converting his first match point.

 

Data slam: Djokovic overcomes injury issues

Whatever was bothering Djokovic was clearly evident in the opener when he managed to make just 40 per cent of his 30 serves, compared to Carreno-Busta's 65 per cent. However, Djokovic soon found his groove - as epitomised by his first-serve percentage of 70 per cent in the next set. 

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS

Djokovic: 53/41
Carreno-Busta: 42/29

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS

Djokovic: 2/5
Carreno-Busta: 3/3

BREAK POINTS WON

Djokovic: 6/13
Carreno-Busta: 3/13  

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