Novak Djokovic has made a flying start to his bid for a record fourth successive ATP Tour Finals title as the defending champion routed Japan’s Kei Nishikori 6-1 6-1.
Djokovic arrived at London’s O2 Arena hoping to win the prestigious season-ending event 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 his 79th victory in 84 matches this year.
With two more group ties remaining against six-time champion Roger Federer and Tomas Berdych, who meet later on Sunday, Djokovic’s stroll by the banks of the River Thames was a significant statement of intent to his rivals for the title.
“No question I played some of the best tennis I’ve played this year,” Djokovic said.
“Undoubtedly it was an incredible performance that I was hoping I could have coming into this tournament, where I’ve had a great record in the last couple of years.
“I was feeling very comfortable on the court. Kei didn’t perform at his best because I didn’t allow him to dictate the play.”
Nishikori added: “I think my serve was the key. Both sets I lost my first service game. That put me under a little pressure.
“I mean, he also played unbelievable tennis. I’m very ashamed with this score, but I still have two more matches.”
Djokovic has dominated to such an extent over the last 11 months that the sport’s big four, previously comprised of the Serb, Federer, Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray, has been reduced to a one-man show.
Even by Djokovic’s sky-high standards, 2015 has been a golden period for the 10-time grand slam winner, who has cemented his position as the sport’s pre-eminent force with one of the best single seasons in the Open era.
The 28-year-old has amassed 10 titles, including the Australian and US Opens, Wimbledon and a record six Masters tournaments.
Since losing to Roger 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.