Novak Djokovic mercilessly disposed of Matteo Berrettini on Sunday in the ATP Finals tennis tournament, as he began his quest to regain first place by winning his first match of the competition 6-2, 6-1.
Berrettini became the first Italian to play in the end-of-season tournament since 1978 but received a harsh lesson from the 16-time Grand Slam champion at the O2 Arena.
Djokovic, 32 and in the race to finish the year at the top of the standings, began the match at 640 points Rafael Nadal, but the victory reduced that advantage to 440 points.
The Serb must win at least two games of the group stage and reach the final to have any chance of matching the record of Pete Sampras, finishing six years as world number one.
The Spanish Nadal, worried about an abdominal injury suffered in the Masters of Paris, plays his first group match on Monday against the defending champion, Alexander Zverev.
Four times title winner Djokovic never played against Berrettini before, but quickly had to face the aggressive style of the 23-year-old Italian.
“It feels good to be back in London,” said Djokovic on the track, who won Wimbledon this year by defeating Roger Federer in an epic final.
“Fortunately, I got the break and then I began to read better his serve and played solid throughout the game,” he said after the encounter with Berrettini.