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ATP Finals: Novak Djokovic v Casper Ruud: Djokovic seeking record-equalling sixth crown

Novak Djokovic is favourite to win a record-equalling sixth ATP Finals title when he takes on Casper Ruud in the season-ending final in Turin on Sunday evening.

What: Novak Djokovic v Casper Ruud, Final, ATP Tour Finals

Where: Pala Alpitour, Turin, Italy

When: 13:00, Sunday 20th November, 2022

How to watch: Amazon Prime Video

Odds: Novak Djokovic 2/9, Casper Ruud 10/3

Norwegian Ruud is the remaining hurdle the Serbian former world No.1 must overcome in Italy after he beat American Taylor Fritz in a hard-fought semi on Saturday.

Huge prize up for grabs

If Djokovic, who had slipped to world No.8 before the tournament largely due to a period of inactivity, does triumph then he will match Roger Federer's six ATP Finals titles and pick up the hefty sum of $4,740,300 - the biggest individual prize in tennis history - in the process.

The 21-times major champion says he "had to fight to survive" his last-four contest at the Pala Alpitour, eventually prevailing 7-6(5) 7-6(6) against big-serving Fritz and admitted afterwards it wasn't one of his best days but he "managed to hang in there".

Djokovic, who last won the season-ending event in 2015, has not lost en route to the final this year, seeing off Stefanos Tsitsipas and Andrey Rublev in straight sets in the round-robin group, while he also overcame Daniil Medvedev in three.

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Ruud saw off Rublev

Ruud had a somewhat easier semi as he saw off an out-of-sorts Rublev 6-2 6-4 in their last-four clash and, after he triumphed with a 2-1 record in the Green Group, losing only to Rafa Nadal, he will now face the might of Djokovic.

The pair have met just three times on the ATP Tour previously and, tellingly, Djokovic has won all three matches, including in last year's ATP Finals group stage, when he came out on top 7-6 6-2. The other two meetings between them also coincidentally came in Italy when Djokovic won in straight sets in the ATP Masters 1000 Rome competition in both 2020 and earlier this year.

Ruud is one of the rising stars on the men's circuit, aged just 22 he is 13 years Djokovic's junior but he's already made a big impact in the sport, especially this year when finishing as runner-up at both the French and US Open.

It seems logical that the Norwegian star will soon break his Grand Slam duck after rising to No.4 in the world and beating Djokovic to the ATP Tour Finals title would be a superb way for him to cap off a fine year before the Australian Open gets underway early in 2023.

Final could go to three sets

Ruud is a 10/3 chance to win Sunday's final and, after a more straightforward semi and given his age in comparison to the Serbian star, his energy and motivation levels may be slightly higher, especially at the start.

Ruud to win the first set at 9/4 therefore appeals, while Djokovic to recover from a poor start and triumph overall in sets 2-1 seems a good choice at 12/5.

Despite his impressive rise this year, there are still plenty of question-marks over Ruud and, in particular, fears he cannot do it against the very best. So far in six matches against Djokovic, Nadal and Federer, he is yet to win a set.

'Tough challenge' for underdog

If he is to fulfil his undoubted potential that will have to change soon but he is well aware just how difficult a task he faces in one of the biggest finals of the year against such an experienced opponent.

He said: "I know there will be a tough challenge. Novak in a final on an indoor hard court here is some of the toughest player you can play in the history of our sport."

With both players keen to end 2022 on a high before the focus inevitably switches to preparation for Melbourne and the Australian Open, Djokovic can be backed at 6/5 to start next year with another Grand Slam title win, while Ruud is 16/1 to win his first major.

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