At the conclusion of day two of the ATP Finals in Turin, we take a look at some highlights and offbeat moments from an eventful Monday in northern Italy.

Djokovic gives Zlatan the perfect welcome

Footballing royalty was in the house on Monday as AC Milan and Sweden forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic stopped by the Pala Alpitour to watch some tennis and catch up with the players.
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Novak Djokovic, of course, greeted the Swede by blasting Ibrahimovic’s favourite tune from his phone, Serbian folk song ‘Jutro Je’.
The song, released by Nada Topčagić in the 1980s, has shot to popularity in Italy this year thanks to Ibrahimovic, who used a snippet from it during his appearance at Sanremo Music Festival, and he frequently features it in his social media video posts.
Topčagić even attended Ibrahimovic’s 40th birthday last month and performed the song.
Djokovic was in stitches as he posed for a photo with the Swede while singing along to ‘Jutro Je’.

Casper’s signal of intent

Casper Ruud’s first ever game of his ATP Finals debut is one his fans are likely going to replay on YouTube several times in the future, despite the fact he ended up losing the match.
The opening six points of his clash with Djokovic included a flashy tweener from the Norwegian, two missile-like forehand winners off his Yonex racquet, and a defensive lob that saw Djokovic lose his footing, fall to the ground, drop his racquet, get back on his feet, pick up his racquet, get back in the point before losing the game on a netted backhand error.
It was both an impressive and bizarre way for Ruud to earn a service break against the top seed and a start that surely left a lasting impression on the crowd in Turin.
“I don't know what happened in that break point in the first game. I took a fall, tripped on my own legs a couple of times, so it was really a terrible start, but also funny that I'm still trying to figure out what happened,” Djokovic said later.

A dream gig

If you’re wondering who might be one of the hardest workers on-site at the ATP Finals in Turin this week, Jerome Kym should definitely be on your shortlist.
The 18-year-old Swiss is one of two juniors – together with Wimbledon boys’ champion Samir Banerjee – invited to serve as sparring partners for the top players at the season-closing championships and he hasn’t wasted a minute of this dream gig since the moment he set foot in the Pala Alpitour.
Kym’s name has been all over the practice schedule these past few days, where he’s had hitting sessions with the likes of Djokovic, Matteo Berrettini, Andrey Rublev, Daniil Medvedev, as well as several doubles players.
Take Sunday’s schedule for example. Kym warmed up Medvedev at 10:15, followed by Jamie Murray and Bruno Soares at 10:45. He was with Rublev on court from 13:00 to 14:30, and with Pierre-Hugues Herbert from 15:30 to 16:30, before warming up Berrettini at 17:00.

Jerome Kym and Matteo Berrettini

Image credit: Eurosport

He can be forgiven if he’s feeling completely exhausted but Kym wouldn’t have it any other way it seems.
“No, I’m happy when I can play more than two or three hours a day, that would be a normal practice day for me. The experience is amazing, I can practice with the eight best players in the world, I don’t think there’s a better facility for that,” Kym told Eurosport in an interview at the end of a long and taxing Sunday.
I’m happy and I’m excited for one more week.
The junior world No.9 comes from a small town outside Basel and stands at a towering 198cm.
If his name sounds familiar, it’s probably because you recall a 15-year-old Kym shocked Rublev and Evgeny Donskoy in doubles, alongside his countryman Henri Laaksonen in Switzerland’s 1-3 loss to Russia in the Davis Cup qualifiers back in 2019.
Rublev has been hitting with Kym every day in Turin and the pair have shared a laugh remembering that doubles clash from two years ago.
“We were having a chat about it and he told me, ‘Just keep going, enjoy what you do and keep working hard and then the results are coming, you have to be patient’. He’s still laughing that he lost to me. It’s been great,” said Kym of the Russian world No.5.
Rublev recalls how Kym already had a massive serve when he was just 15 years old and he sees great potential in the Swiss teen.
“He didn't beat me, first of all. That was a doubles match. He beat us in doubles, just to make it clear, 7-6 in the third,” Rublev laughed in his press conference on Monday, setting the record straight. “And we still beat them 3-1, so they had no chance against us.
He's super talented. Already at his age he serves like crazy. He serves better than me and stronger than me and than many players. He's only what, 18?
“So we'll see. With this serve, he can be easily a great player. Then it's about him, if he will be smart and put the right priorities and be a humble person. Then he will arrive to the great things, I think.”
Inviting juniors to act as hitting partners at the ATP Finals is not a new initiative. Stefanos Tsitsipas was given that privilege in 2016 when he was junior No.1 and he returned and won the whole event three years later.

Jerome Kym and Andrey Rublev

Image credit: Eurosport

Kym’s compatriot Dominic Stricker was invited to the event last year and said the opportunity gave him a huge confidence boost for this season.
Both Kym and Stricker are no strangers to rubbing shoulders with the sport’s elite having spent a one-week training block with Roger Federer in Dubai a couple of years ago.
Kym is on a mission to soak up the experience in Turin as best he can and is keen to learn from the top stars as much as possible.
“The most important things of these two weeks is the intensity of the players, how they practice, how they’re moving on court, how they kill the balls; just the intensity and that they love what they do,” he added.

A serving masterclass

Rublev does not remember a match where he performed as consistently on his first serve as he did during his 6-4 6-4 win over Tsitsipas in their Green Group clash on Monday.
In the opening set, Rublev landed 92 per cent of his first serves in (23/25), won 87 percent of his first-serve points (20/23), and his average first-serve speed was 203km/hr.
He finished the match with a 90 percent success rate behind his first serve and faced zero break points throughout. Those are just staggering numbers from the 24-year-old Russian.
“I think it's the first time ever,” Rublev said of his serving performance.
I'm happy with everything I did today on court, from serve, from return, from rallies from the baseline, to my mental part, how I controlled my emotions today. So we'll see if I can keep going this way.
Tsitsipas, who is now tied 4-4 in his head-to-head with Rublev, echoed his opponent’s sentiments regarding the serve.
“He was serving at his best that I have ever seen him serve. I think in the first set he had, I don't know, something like 22 consecutive first serves. Maybe the stats are different, but that's the feeling I have,” said Tsitsipas.

(Déjà vu) Argument of the day

British-American duo Joe Salisbury and Rajeev Ram overcame Murray and Soares 6-1 7-6(5) in their Turin opener but not before they reminded us of just how big of a headache the hindrance rule can be.
During the match, Murray yelled ‘come on’ after hitting a forehand he thought was a winner right at the same time a reaching Salisbury made contact with the ball, albeit with the frame of his racquet.
Salisbury and Ram argued that Murray should have been given a hindrance penalty but chair umpire Aurelie Tourte believed the Scot’s celebration did not impact Salisbury’s ability to hit the ball.
“This is where I have to make a judgment,” explained Tourte, which is correct. The hindrance rule almost always ends up being a judgment call and it’s hard to get everyone to agree on the umpire’s decision.
Those paying attention will recall an argument that took place between Tourte and Daniil Medvedev in the Toronto Masters three months ago, when the umpire called hindrance against the Russian for saying “sorry” to his opponent Alexander Bublik mid-rally (go watch it for a good laugh).
You can’t really fault Tourte in either incident. Blame the hindrance rule; it’s a tricky one!

Stats of the day

Following his loss to Djokovic on Monday, Ruud remains winless against top-10 players on hard courts; his record now stands at 0-7 in that category.
Djokovic, who is making his 14th ATP Finals appearance, is now 13-1 in opening round-robin matches, with his only loss coming to David Ferrer on his tournament debut in 2007.
The Serb recorded his 39th ATP Finals victory, which moves him into joint second place, alongside Ivan Lendl on the all-time match-wins leaderboard for the tournament.
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