Djokovic collects unprecedented season crown

The 36-year-old hoisted up the year-end No.1 trophy for the eighth time in Turin.

Novak Djokovic number one©Corinne Dubreuil / FFT
 - Alex Sharp

Hunched over, hands tapping the ground and then pressed onto the court for a good ten seconds, Novak Djokovic was soaking in his latest mind-boggling accomplishment. 

On Sunday, the all-conquering Serbian began his ATP Finals title defence with a brutal 7-6(4), 6-7(1), 6-3 victory over Holger Rune in Turin, Italy.

The three hour and four minutes sizzler typified why Djokovic continues to redefine greatness in tennis and sport.

In doing so, the victory guaranteed his record-extending eighth year-end No.1 trophy, joining his 2011-12, 2014-15, 2018 and 2020-21 campaigns. His childhood idol Pete Sampras is next in line having chalked up six. Djokovic is simply built different.  

The 24-time Grand Slam champion (another men's record) also served up another landmark for Djokovic, pushing him into a historic 400th week overall as world No.1 on November 20th following the ATP Finals.  

“It means a lot," said the Serbian, having fended off world No.2 Carlos Alcaraz in the rankings.

"You could see there were a lot of emotions on the court. I could feel it. I was very eager to win tonight’s match, get that monkey off my back.  

"I won Paris, which put me in a much better position rankings-wise, and I knew coming into Turin I only needed to win one match. A big goal is achieved, everything else now is a bonus.”

Djokovic (2008, 2012-15, 2022) and Federer are locked level on six ATP Finals triumphs, meaning the top seed could pull clear of his 'Big Three' rival in another tally this week inside the Pala Alpitour.

On Monday, Djokovic was presented with his year-end No.1 silverware during a ceremony in Turin. The big screens beaming out his miraculous accomplishments from another stellar season.

Taking to the microphone to address the Italian crowd and his legion of fans watching worldwide, the 36-year-old reflected further on the era-defining accomplishment.

“Obviously it’s the crown of the season, finishing the year as No.1 in the world,” said Djokovic.

“I think it’s a dream of every tennis player. It’s one of the most difficult things to do in our sport. Obviously winning Grand Slams and being No.1 in the world are probably the pinnacles of the sport.

“It’s been a very long year for all the players and to be able to stand here is a blessing and I want to thank my team, everyone who has been on this road with me. This is a tremendous success and achievement and I’m very proud of it.” 

Novak Djokovic team 2023©Corinne Dubreuil / FFT

Take a dive into any of the numbers and it's clear to see why Djokovic has ruled the roost once again. 

Most significantly, the 36-year-old surged further ahead of Rafael Nadal (22) and Federer (20) with three Grand Slams moving him onto a men's history-leading total of 24 majors.

Capturing three Grand Slams in a campaign for the fourth time (also in 2011, 2015 and 2021) has the tennis world discussing Djokovic's finest seasons.

"One of the best years. I wouldn't say the best, but one of the best," suggested the top seed in Turin, who is currently on a 52-5 match record in 2023 and hasn't lost since Wimbledon.

"The fact that I've won three out of four slams and played a final the fourth and it's still not the best year of my life, it's quite nice to have that kind of situation.

"2011, 2015, in those years, I won more matches, I played more tournaments. I was feeling very dominant on the tour.

"It's quite different circumstances this year comparing to all the other years because I played, what 11 tournaments (so far) this year. I played very well - least of anybody. I just managed to peak at the right tournaments, at the right time. That's what matters to me really."

The Turin crowd will be treated to an absolute blockbuster on Tuesday with Djokovic pitched against home hero Jannik Sinner in the evening session.