The greater the stakes, the greater the performance from Novak Djokovic. One of the main reasons for Djokovic’s success has always been this, as evidenced by the numerous times he has won important titles. This week in Turin has also been a perfect example of it.
Five days after Djokovic and Jannik Sinner battled through three long hours of play in a round-robin match, with Sinner winning the match 6-3, 6-3, Djokovic simply raised his game to a level that Sinner could not match and won the ATP Finals title.
Nearly every victory in Djokovic’s career thus far has been accompanied by a new record. Now that he has broken his tie with Roger Federer, the Serb has won seven ATP Finals titles. With 98 titles, he is closing in on his own century, a feat only Jimmy Connors (109) and Roger Federer (103) in the men’s game have accomplished. Djokovic will celebrate an incredible 400th week as the world’s top seed on Monday, surpassing Federer by 90 weeks.
Throughout this year, Djokovic has consistently stated that the major tournaments are his top priorities. He has dutifully followed through on this promise, winning four of the five major titles this year (the Australian Open, French Open, US Open, and ATP Finals), with Carlos Alcaraz’s incredible Wimbledon performance the only thing that has prevented him from winning them all. With seven titles and an impressive win-loss record of 55–6, he concludes the ATP season victorious.
After putting on a standout performance in the semi-final against a youthful opponent named Alcaraz, Djokovic advanced to the final, dropping just five games to his nearest rival. In less than twenty-four hours, Djokovic just continued where he left off.
Sinner’s serve has improved over the last few months and especially this week, which is understandable, but Djokovic’s serve dominated the entire match, demonstrating once more how the shot has changed in recent years. He was unspotted on the court, winning seven aces in the first set and giving up just two points against one of the top returners before taking a 6-3, 3-2 lead.
Similarly, Sinner is regarded as one of the biggest and cleanest hitters in the world, and Djokovic, who is still occasionally categorized as a player who plays defense, the current champion began the match by destroying forehands, which is another important change he has made in his later career. After four sets, with the all-important break won, Djokovic’s average forehand speed was recorded at 86 mph, while Sinner’s was recorded at 74 mph. Djokovic’s depth, deft direction changes, and consistent, accurate ball-striking suffocated his opponent.
When the greatest defender and returner of all time is also outhitting and outserving you, what in the world can you do? Djokovic won 14 straight points as his play picked up steam toward the end of the opening set, giving him a lead in both the set and the break while he pursued a second break.
Sinner persisted in her fight. Sinner had to fight through another break point in a long deuce game after trailing 0–2 and 0–30 on his serve, but he did an amazing job of staying in the match. Djokovic answered shortly after, smashing three aces, an unreturnable serve, and holding to love in under a minute.
His failure to take his chances on Sinner’s service games led to nervous final few games, Djokovic trailed 15-40 and 0-30 in back-to-back games due to his inability to take chances in Sinner’s service games. Though there were several opportunities for the match to get more complicated, Djokovic steadily recovered, held serve, and advanced toward yet another important championship.
Sinner has had an amazing week and has become even more respected by his peers. He has demonstrated that he is still developing into a more well-rounded player, that he has toughened up mentally, and that he is now a strong candidate to compete in the year’s major tournaments.
The issue facing the best young players is that, at thirty-six, Djokovic continues to make significant progress at the same rate as them. Even with everything he has accomplished, Djokovic is unwaveringly dedicated to honing his craft and developing as a player, and the results speak for themselves: as he continues to win major championships, very few players have demonstrated that they can stop him.
Meanwhile, at the ATP Finals, American Rajeev Ram and British Joe Salisbury defeated Horacio Zeballos and Marcel Granollers to retain their doubles championship.