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Djokovic wins ATP Finals: “I’m very hungry to prove I’m still one of the best players in the world”

  • Matt Trollope

Novak Djokovic has put his rivals on notice with a statement triumph at the ATP Finals in Turin.

The Serbian claimed a record-equalling sixth title – yet his first since 2015 – at the season-ending championship with a 7-5 6-3 win over ever-improving Norwegian Casper Ruud.

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Djokovic, 35, first won the ATP Finals in 2008. With his 2022 victory he becomes, by far, the tournament’s oldest-ever champion.

Undefeated in five matches in Turin, he earned US $4.74 million for his victory – the biggest prize money cheque in tennis history.

“It’s a golden opportunity for me to compete at this highest level against the best players in the world at this stage of my life, at this age,” Djokovic told Tennis Channel in a courtside interview.

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“After seven years, to win one of the biggest trophies in sport, it’s really a big relief, but also fully satisfying. Full of joy, obviously. And particularly after everything that has happened and I’ve been through this year, first six months especially.

“I’m just very thrilled, and grateful.”

Djokovic was restricted to just 12 events in 2022 but became increasingly dominant as the year unfolded.

Beginning with his first title of the season at the Rome Masters in Miami, the Serb won 35 of his last 38 matches, losing only to Rafael Nadal at Roland Garros, Felix Auger-Aliassime at the Laver Cup and Holger Rune in the Paris Masters final.

HOLGER RUNE: "I got more belief that night"

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He collected five titles – Rome, Wimbledon, Tel Aviv, Astana and the ATP Finals – from seven finals and this week will return to the world’s top five.

Djokovic built an impressive 11-3 record against top-10 opponents this year – the most victories against top-10 players on tour – including his last eight in a row.

Five of those top-10 wins came in Turin, all against opponents aged 26 and under.

Djokovic turned pro almost 20 years ago. However, he indicated his motivation remains high as he continues to target milestones in the sport. 

Two within reach are the world No.1 ranking – which he has already held for a record 373 weeks – and a record-equalling 22nd Grand Slam singles title.

Reigning US Open champion Carlos Alcaraz is currently ranked No.1 while Nadal holds the men’s Grand Slam record with 22 majors, two of which came in 2022.

RELATED: Nadal ends season with a win, and an eye on 2023

Djokovic could reel both Spaniards in as early as Australian Open 2023, where he will be playing for an incredible 10th title at Melbourne Park.

“In my mind I always see myself as the best player in the world, of course,” Djokovic revealed.

“I have that kind of mentality and approach regardless of who is across the net, what the surface is, what season it is.

“It’s always the same. The ambitions are the highest possible. And that kind of approach I feel brought me to where I am, sitting here today (at the ATP Finals) as a 35-year-old and holding one of the biggest trophies in the sport. 

Novak Djokovic wins ATP Finals
Novak Djokovic hoists the ATP Finals trophy after going undefeated in five matches in Turin; he beat Stefanos Tsitsipas, Andrey Rublev, Daniil Medvedev, Taylor Fritz and Casper Ruud en route to the title. (Getty Images)

“I don’t feel like there’s any stopping happening, or thoughts about letting the tennis career go, for some time now. I feel motivated, and I feel good in my own body.

“As long as that (love and passion) is there, I’ll do anything in my power to challenge the young guys for the biggest trophies.

“I’m very hungry to prove I’m still one of the best players in the world, that I can win big trophies. 

“So, see you in Australia (smiling).”