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Novak Djokovic aiming for ATP Finals, will play Tel Aviv next week despite wrist concern

The former world No 1 needs to stay in the top 20 in the Race – as a Grand Slam winner this year – to qualify for Turin

Novak Djokovic Laver Cup speech Antoine Couvercelle / Panoramic

Novak Djokovic says securing his place in the season-ending ATP Finals in Turin is one of his main goals for the rest of the year.

The Serb is guaranteed a spot in the eight-man event as a Grand Slam champion – he won Wimbledon in July – but only as long as he remains in the world’s top 20.

Djokovic will fly to Israel to play in the Tel Aviv event this week and says the ATP Finals are his main goal for the rest of the year.

“Well, the goal is to try to make Turin,” he said at the Laver Cup on Sunday, where he lost his second singles match to Felix Auger-Aliassime, an important result as Team World won the event for the first time in five tries.

“I’m in a good position, still, I think 15 or 16 on the (ATP) Race (he is currently 15th). “You’ve got to be top 20 as a Grand Slam winner. That’s the rule in order to make cut and qualify for Turin.

“I will play Tel Aviv next week and play an (ATP) 500 in Kazakhstan, and then the schedule was to play Bercy and Turin. So let’s see if it stays this way or something changes. But my thoughts are obviously the next few weeks and then I will take it from there.”

Djokovic monitoring wrist issue

Djokovic admitted he was bothered by a right wrist issue throughout the Laver Cup. He played brilliantly in winning singles and doubles on Saturday, but struggled against Auger-Aliassime on Sunday.

“I have been struggling with my right wrist for the last four, five days, to be honest. I have been keeping it under control,” he said.

“The two matches yesterday probably had an effect. Today was not easy. I couldn’t serve as fast or as accurately as I would like to. That has affected the whole game. He was serving extremely well.

“Of course I’m not taking anything away from his performance. It was outstanding, big serving, and very solid from back of the court. You know, he deserved to win, no doubt.

The Serb said he feels like the wrist issue is down to playing two matches on Saturday, having not played for two months since winning Wimbledon, due to his ban from entering the United States because of his refusal to have the Covid-19 vaccine.

“I think it’s a combination of the two,” he said. “Could be not playing almost three months matches, and then conditions here are such that the balls are really big and slow.

“When you use them quite a bit, you know, they kind of sit on the court. So you always have to generate a lot of wrist action and speed, which, you know, could be the case why I have been feeling soreness of my right wrist in the last four days that I have been training and playing here.

“But I think it’s also the two matches that I played last night that I was excited and I played great, looked very sharp, felt great on the court, but then maybe lack of matches also is something that I felt today.”

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