Djokovic fires “huge” statement with sixth ATP Finals crown

The 21-time Grand Slam champion lifted the season-ending silverware for the first time since 2015.

Novak Djokovic / Victoire ATP Finals 2022©Corinne Dubreuil / FFT
 - Alex Sharp

Teenage sensation Carlos Alcaraz broke clear at the summit to finish as the year-end No.1, Rafael Nadal broke clear with his 22nd Grand Slam title to lead the men’s all-time leader board.

Well, Novak Djokovic remains ensconced in the conversation for history-defining moments, proving in Italy last week he is still a force to be reckoned with.

A rollercoaster year

The Serbian has spoken at length regarding his challenging 2022 on and off the court. “It’s been a rollercoaster year, something I’ve never experienced before in my life,” stated the 35-year-old.

Within all the drama and controversy, Djokovic has emerged with a 21st major at Wimbledon and finished his season with ATP Finals glory in Turin.

It’s not just that Djokovic, becoming the oldest champion in the season finale’s history, lifted another significant piece of silverware. It’s the tone he set, finishing on a winning note provides the perfect platform to dominate in 2023.

“Huge,” was Djokovic’s succinct assessment during his on-court interview. “I look forward to having a couple of weeks off because I was really kind of on the needles in the entire year, whether it was for tournaments or waiting for permissions to go somewhere. So, I'm really glad that I managed to ended in a positive way.”

The new world No.5 last lifted the ATP Finals silverware in 2015 and this Turin title tilt equalled Roger Federer’s six season-ending triumphs.

Since his maiden ATP Finals glory in Shanghai in 2008, Djokovic has gone onto collect four more in London and now Turin. The longevity spans over three decades, he’s seeing a plethora of youngsters pitch up, but the desire to re-write history continues to blaze.

“I don't know what the future holds, but I know that what I hold in my mind is a huge hunger still to win trophies,” declared Djokovic.

“To make history in this sport, compete on the highest level all around the world, bring good emotions to sports fans, tennis fans. That's what drives me a lot.

“I have a lot of different motivational factors, and I don't lack any motivation for the moment. Of course, we all have bad days or bad weeks. But generally the feeling is still there.”

Novak Djokovic / Finale ATP Finals 2022©Corinne Dubreuil / FFT

Family affair

One of those motivational factors is family.

During the round robin win over Andrey Rublev, the 35-year-old revealed it was the first time his wife, son and daughter had all been together to watch an entire match from the first to last ball.

Novak wants to put on a show for his nearest and dearest.

There’s the obvious joy of seeing both his children jumping up and down in-between points, hugs and kisses after victories. It’s also enabled Djokovic to switch off away from the competitive arena.

“I'm very grateful to my wife and my children for coming. I don't get to have these moments on the Tour with them so much, so I of course try to enjoy it as much as I possibly can,” continued Djokovic.

“I took both of my children, particularly my son, to a lot of the tennis training sessions, warmups and matches. He was very loud (during the final). I was very surprised. I could hear his voice the entire time. He was very much into it.

“They make my life on Tour easier. The pressures, the expectations, the tensions that you normally go through in a big tournament like this, when they're around, it lowers a bit so I can have that time off, quality time with my family. That really soothes me and gives me serenity in order to recalibrate and play my best tennis the next day. I cherish these moments a lot. Hopefully, as they grow older, they'll realise even more what special moments we're living together.”

In terms of tennis, Djokovic really boosted arguments that he’s nearly back to the peak of his powers.

An amazing campaign

His second half season dominance has gone pretty under the radar.

Since being crowned Wimbledon champion for a seventh time in July, the Serbian has compiled a 19-2 match record.

His undefeated ATP Finals week compromised of two halves. Two polished performances to see off Stefanos Tsitsipas and Rublev in straight sets.

Then Djokovic had to rely upon his extensive experience to prevail in exhausting, brutal tussles with Daniil Medvedev and Taylor Fritz. In the tense, pivotal moments, the former world No.1 had the answers. 

This was very much the case in the final facing Casper Ruud. Djokovic was 6-5 up on the Roland-Garros finalist and skipped into the tramlines to scorch a inside-in forehand down the line. Ruud simply applauded and moments later relinquished serve and the set.

Djokovic is renowned for pouncing in these crucial moments and has rediscovered his lethal instincts.

The footage of the 35-year-old shaking at changeovers versus Medvedev evoked how much Djokovic still puts into these battles. On Sunday night, serving for the title at 5-3, a 36-shot rally teed up the win. The 21-time Grand Slam champion bringing out a trademark roar, demanding an immediate increase in volume from the crowd.

Casper Ruud & Novak Djokovic / Finale ATP Finals 2022
©Corinne Dubreuil / FFT

"The ambitions are as high as possible"

The shot-making, the sheer resistance, the pure theatre are all ingredients which have richly returned to Djokovic duels.

This all combines to indicate this unrelenting champion is going to have a major say in the 2023 tennis landscape.

“I always see myself as the best player in the world," declared Djokovic, having collected his fifth title of the year.

"I have that kind of mentality and that kind of approach. Regardless of who is across the net, regardless of what the surface is, regardless of what season it is, what number of the professional season in my career we're facing. It's always the same. The ambitions are as high as possible. I had an amazing finish to the season.”

Novak Djokovic / Victoire trophée ATP Finals 2022©Corinne Dubreuil / FFT