The regular tennis year has come to an end and for the second year in a row the beautiful city of Torino which has as a backdrop snow covered mountains, hosted the season-ending championships the Nitto ATP Finals and Novak Djokovic has equalled Roger Federer’s record of six titles. This was Novak’s eighth final from 16 appearances at this tournament.|
The 7-5, 6-3 win over Ruud has made Djokovic, who was the second oldest finalist after Arthur Ashe in 1978, at 35, the oldest winner of this title. That shatters Federer’s reign as the previous oldest winner when he won the event for the last time eleven years ago as a 30-year-old. Djokovic will end the year at five in the rankings, with Ruud being three. Had Ruud won he would have jumped to two displacing Rafa Nadal.
This was their fourth career meeting. Djokovic is now 4-0 having never lost a set to Ruud. Interestingly all their matches have been in Italy and in two cities, Rome and Torino.
“It feels deeply satisfying and at the same time huge relief because of the circumstances that I have been through this year, situations earlier this year of course with Australia. We don't need to go back. We know what happened,” Djokovic said.
“That had an effect obviously on my start of the year. For the first several months, I was trying to find that balance game-wise but also mentally in order to be able to come back to the court and find that tennis level that I need.
“That has started to happen actually in Italy also, which is no coincidence. In Rome where I won the big tournament. I started to really feel more comfortable playing tennis, being on the court. Wimbledon title was extremely important at that point in time. After Wimbledon, I lost only Paris Bercy basically finals. All the other tournaments I won. Had an amazing finish of the season with most of the tournaments I played indoors I won. Indoors has been historically very successful for me.
“Playing in Italy, in a country where I love to play, have really special connection with people, makes this trophy and this win even more special.”
As disappointed as he was at losing the final, for Ruud it has been a remarkable year that included reaching the finals of the French and US Opens.
“In the end it's been disappointing to end up losing these big finals,” Ruud said. “Overall if you gave me an offer to end the year at No. 3, play the finals that I've played, at the 1st of January this year, I would probably sign the contract right away. No doubt about it. I'm very happy with all that I've achieved, how things turned out, played out for me this year. It's been great.
“But I still feel like there are room for improvements, so that's a good thing I believe to still be happy and know that there is still room for improvement, which is a good thing. I feel like, of course, I've been playing great tennis this year, but I still feel like I haven't maybe peaked or played hopefully my best tennis of my life so far.
“Definitely very happy with the year all in all. This result to me is maybe one of the most surprising, finishing the year here on a blistering fast indoor hard court, making the final, not something that I found very likely. Maybe neither did I in the US Open to make the final. I've overachieved compared to my own mind, so I'm very happy about that.”
Djokovic made the point that his desire is not waning, and he still has that urge to keep going. He is very happy facing the younger ones that have made their mark and he’s not ready to walk away. He was asked if he is the best player in the world.
“I'm not. I'm fifth,” he said smiling. “This week I probably am. Overall the rankings are showing who had the best year, and Alcaraz is the No. 1 in the world. Not much to say about that.
“But in my mind, I always see myself as the best player in the world, of course. 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, I mean, it's always the same. The ambitions are as high as possible.
“That kind of approach, I feel it brought me to where I am sitting here today as a 35-year-old, holding one of the biggest trophies in the sport. I don't feel like there's any stopping happening or thoughts about letting the tennis career go for some time now. I mean, I feel motivated. I feel good in my own body. I take care of myself. Of course, great team of people. As long as there's that flair happening inside of me...
“Of course, it all starts with emotions. I think how you mentally approach or what is your observation or perspective of tennis, of this sport that you do. For me, that's love and passion really. As long as that's there I'll do anything in my power to challenge the young guys for the biggest trophies.”
The doubles title has been claimed in one hour 25 minutes by Rajeev Ram and Joe Salisbury and for them it is the first time claiming this championship. The American-British combination defeated Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic 7-6 6-4.