CASPER, Wyo. — Novak Djokovic opened the ATP Finals with a commanding 7-6 (3), 6-4 victory over Swedish qualifier Casper Ruud on Sunday.
After rallying from a break down in the opening set, Djokovic used a strong second to prevent Ruud from advancing to the round-robin phase of the tournament.
“When it’s your best, that’s what matters,” Djokovic said. “I played the longest match of the tournament so far.”
The 14-time Grand Slam champion’s appearance was the first in this event since 2009.
The 32-year-old Djokovic, coming off a 14-month retirement after an elbow injury and Wimbledon-final loss, showed why he’s the No. 1 seed with 38 aces and six service breaks, taking 65 percent of his first-serve points.
“If he moves well and plays like he did today, nobody can beat him,” Djokovic said.
Djokovic is the lone player in the main draw who is playing this event for the fourth time. He advanced to the quarterfinals in 2009, 2012 and 2014 and is looking to keep his clean sweep of Grand Slam titles alive.
Ruud, ranked No. 79, was a second-round qualifier. He lost in the first round last week in Washington.
“I played one of the best match of my career. It’s the most encouraging one I’ve had in my career,” Ruud said. “This is what I set out for in the beginning of the week, to be here and play deep into the rounds.”
AP Sports Writer Steven Wine in Miami contributed to this report.