The event began with a minute’s silence for the victims of Paris attacks before play got underway between Djokovic and Nishikori. More than 129 people are dead and hundreds wounded due to Friday’s terrorist attacks in Paris. Security measures have been heightened in the O2 Arena.
In the Stan Smith group, three-time defending champion Djokovic extended his winning streak at the year-ending event to 15 with his easy 6-1, 6-1 win over Kei Nishikori. It’s the world No. 1’s 23rd straight match victory overall.
The Serb lost a mere nine points on his own serve, hit 17 winners with only 14 unforced errors and never faced a break point in the 65-minute win.
“Obviously I didn’t make any first serve today,” Nishikori said. “So that cause lot of pressure that he always have a good return. I thought didn’t play bad. I had great points with groundstrokes. I think my serve was the key. Both sets I lost my first service game.”
“I was feeling very comfortable on the court, feeling like I could get most of the balls back,” Djokovic said. “I served efficiently. I mixed up the second serves as well. Didn’t give him really the same look twice. I always tried to change. The tactics worked very well.”
Djokovic, having a career year, winning three out of the four majors and six Masters Series titles, is seeking to become the first to win four consecutive year-end tournaments.
Djokovic was awarded his ATP No. 1 trophy for 2015 after the match.
In the night match, third seed and six-time ATP World Finals champion Roger Federer rebounded from a slow start to defeat sixth seed Tomas Berdych 6-4, 6-2. Berdych opened the match leading 2-0, but the Swiss regrouped to take control.
Federer, competing in his 14th straight year-end competition, hit 20 aces past the Czech in the 69-minute match.
“I think what I underestimated a little bit in some ways was that it was a first round. I think I was playing very well in practice,” said the Swiss. “I had a very good idea with Severin and Stefan how I should play the match. When I came in, I kind of forgot it was a first round. I do have to be a little bit careful as well at times. I was a bit sluggish coming in. I don’t want to say too overconfident, but I thought it was going to be easier than that. It was a good lesson for me to learn. But now I’m in the second round, so that’s a good thing.”
The 17-time major champion received the ATP Stefan Edberg Sportsmanship award and the ATPWorldTour.com Fans’ Favourite trophy after the win.
In the doubles competition, top seed Bob and Mike Bryan lost in their first round robin match in the Arthur Ashe/Stan Smith group to eighth seed Rohan Bopanna and Florin Mergea 6-4, 6-3. The Bopanna/Mergea team broke the Bryans’ usually reliable serves five times during the match.
The victory, which gives them a 1-0 record in group play, places them in a tie with Jamie Murray and John Peers at the top of the Group. Fourth seeds Murray and Peers defeated fifth seeds Simone Bolelli and Fabio Fognini 7-6(5), 3-6, 11-9 in one hour and 42 minutes, in a match held before the Djokovic – Nishikori contest.