The win was the Serb’s fifth over Tsonga this season and took him to the top of Group A with each player having played a game, but he had to overcome a difficult first set before a more convincing second in securing the 7-6 (7-4), 6-3 outcome.
“It means a lot, especially here when you’re taking part in an event with the best eight players in the world,” said Djokovic, who hopes to end the year in the same successful fashion that it began when he won the Australian Open but will remain the world’s No1 for the second season in succession regardless of this tournament’s outcome. “There are no easy matches and no favourites really.”
That the Serb saved three break points in the opening set was crucial in winning it, and had an obvious eventual impact on Tsonga – who before then had tested his opponent and played the sort of game that required Djokovic to repeatedly cover much of the court – who appeared very deflated in the second.
Only 20 minutes in to the second, however, Djokovic had secured a match point, and when Tsonga responded by slicing a backhand volley into the tramlines it was over. He tomorrow faces Andy Murray.