Novak Djokovic received some boos and whistles when he engaged with the wild crowd at the ATP Finals. The world No 1 was facing home favourite Jannik Sinner and the fans had been chanting the Italian’s name from the moment the pair stepped onto court. But Djokovic wasn’t happy when they cheered one of his double faults, sarcastically clapping the spectators before they jeered back at him.
The Pala Alpitour was alive on Tuesday night as Sinner came out to face six-time champion Djokovic, who hadn’t lost an ATP Finals match since 2021. The Italian had a 0-3 record against the world No 1 but the home crowd was
It was a high-quality first set from both with the fans getting involved at every opportunity, chanting Sinner’s name during the warm-up and again when he saved a break point to hold for 3-3. But their antics didn’t go down well with Djokovic after he was cheered for making a costly mistake that gave the world No 4 a chance to break.
The 24-time Major champion was 40-0 up while serving at 5-5 but Sinner dragged him to deuce. A double fault from Djokovic’s racket handed his opponent a break point as the fans cheered his error, with the 36-year-old sarcastically clapping them in response. But his move backfired with the spectators jeering and whistling at him instead.
Sinner went on to break, having failed to convert another opportunity in the seventh game of the match. And it proved crucial as he served out the first set 7-5 with the clock just shy of one hour. The arena erupted once again as the 22-year-old put himself within one set of his first victory over Djokovic.
It wasn’t the first time the ATP Finals crowd had booed a player on Tuesday, as Stefanos Tsitsipas was jeered when he retired from the afternoon singles match just 17 minutes in. The world No 6 took on Holger Rune after they both lost their opening round-robin matches but he had to stop while trailing 1-2 with the fans making it clear that they weren’t happy to see the afternoon session cut short.
As part of the tournament’s rules, the two alternates came out for an exhibition set because there had been less than 50 minutes of play. But it very quickly became apparent that second alternate Taylor Fritz hadn’t recovered from the abdominal strain that forced him to pull out of the recent Paris Masters.
The world No 10 couldn’t serve or move like his usual self and the spectators took note of his struggles, whistling and booing when he quickly went 0-40 down to Hubert Hurkacz in his opening service game. The Pole eventually won it 6-3 and Hurkacz will now step in to take Tsitsipas’ place in what would have been his final round-robin match against Djokovic on Thursday.