Record-breaker Djokovic claims seventh ATP Finals crown
November 20, 2023 10:47 AM
Novak Djokovic claimed yet another record on Sunday with his seventh ATP Finals title, sweeping aside local hero Jannik Sinner 6-3, 6-3 in Turin and leaving tennis fans wondering when he will relinquish his tennis dominance.
Djokovic came into the Finals at the end of an age-defying year which has brought three Grand Slams, taking his total to an all-time best of 24, and a 40th Masters 1000 title.
He will clock a 400th week at world number one after crowning an incredible season -- in which he also reached the Wimbledon final -- by moving clear of retired great Roger Federer in victories at the season-ending tournament.
The 36-year-old took his record-breaking crown by beating in straights sets the game's best two young players in Sinner and vanquished semi-finalist Carlos Alcaraz, showing that he still has plenty to give with the Paris Olympics around the corner and a gold medal the only major title missing from his list of honours.
"Very special, one of the best seasons I've had in my life, no doubt. To crown it with a win against a home town hero in Jannik, who has played amazing tennis all week, is phenomenal," said Djokovic.
"I'm very proud of the performances of the last two days against Alcaraz and Sinner, who are probably the two best players in the world, next to me and Medvedev at the moment. The way they have been playing I had to step it up."
Sinner was bidding to become the first ever Italian to win the Finals and looked like the right man to do it after his impressive group stage win over Djokovic.
But the 22-year-old, like Alcaraz in Saturday's semi, simply could not handle Djokovic, a man on a mission who hit his best form at exactly the right time in the tournament.
It is a testament however to how far Sinner, a four-time winner this year, has come in the past year that he had Djokovic's tournament fate in his hands at the end of the group stage, when defeat by Holger Rune would have sent the Serb home early.
- Record-breaker Djokovic -
Sinner saved Djokovic's skin and in the end paid for it in the final, but the quality of his performances at the Pala Alpitour has been a cause for much optimism in Italy and suggests that he should be a Grand Slam contender next season.
"We've seen today that there's still plenty to work on... but we can look at the positives from this season," said Sinner.
"When I started this season I was one type of player, now I'm another. Let's see how we go next season."
Djokovic took control early in the match, breaking Sinner at the first opportunity in game four and then comfortably serving out the opening set.
Such was his dominance that Djokovic silenced a partisan crowd which has been rambunctious for all of Sinner's matches, and he immediately broke serve again at the start of the second set.
He reeled off 14 straight points from the start of the final game of the first set into the third game of the second, which was eventually won by Sinner to just hold his serve.
Sinner looked like he was going to be walked over but he showed huge heart and brought the crowd to its feet when he held his serve in game seven, a 15-minute mini-epic in which Djokovic had two break points, to stay at 4-3.
However in the end he couldn't stay with Djokovic and surrendered the match in disappointing fashion with a double fault.
Earlier, Rajeev Ram and Joe Salisbury retained their doubles title as they cruised to a 6-3, 6-4 victory over Marcel Granollers and Horacio Zeballos.
The US Open champions kept hold of their crown with a near-perfect campaign in Turin, going unbeaten in their five matches.
American Ram and Briton Salisbury took their winning streak at the season-ending tournament to 10 matches after also sweeping to last year's title undefeated.