Novak Djokovic has once again added to his ever-growing list of historic accomplishments on the ATP Tour. This past week in Turin at the Nitto ATP Finals, he captured his record seventh title, surpassing Roger Federer in the process.
It wasn’t all smooth sailing for Djokovic, however, as the World No. 1 got off to a somewhat rocky start with a tight three-set victory over the suddenly clicking Holger Rune followed by a three-set loss to Jannik Sinner, much to the delight of the Italian crowd, in round robin play.
A win from Sinner in his final match of the round robin assured that Djokovic would advance and stay alive in the competition, although this would come back to haunt Sinner in their rematch in the finals where the Serb prevailed 6-3, 6-3.
“It’s one of the best seasons I’ve had in my life, no doubt," Djokovic said to summarize his amazing year on tour. "To crown it with a win against a hometown hero in Jannik, who has played amazing tennis this week, is phenomenal. I’m very proud of the performances these past two days against Alcaraz and Sinner, probably the best two players in the world next to me and Medvedev at the moment — and the way they have been playing, I had to step it up.”
In the final match against Sinner, Djokovic was relentless on his serve, in particular in the opening set where he won 20 of 22 points while serving. Sinner tried his best to keep things alive in the second set and came close to breaking on more than once occasion.
The Italian fought hard in a 16-minute game in the final set that saw eight deuces and in which he somehow managed to hold his serve. In the next game, he had a look at 0-30 on Djokovic’s serve, but as we’ve seen so many times before, the Serbian went into lock-down mode and made sure he closed it out in straight sets.
Djokovic now becomes be the first man to finish as ATP No. 1 on eight separate occasions and also achieves an incredible 400 weeks as the best male player in the world.
"It's a pretty good achievement, 400 weeks at No. 1,” said Djokovic. “It's never been done in history. Someone will eventually break it, but hopefully it stays there for a long time."
In terms of future records to break for Djokovic, the quest for the most-ever singles titles on the ATP is still one to aim for. With 98 career singles titles he is quietly approaching the all-time record of 109 set by Jimmy Connors which he will have a realistic shot of attaining within the next couple of years should he remain healthy.
Read also: Djokovic Delivers in Paris
As for Sinner, the 22-year-old Italian gave the home crowd plenty to cheer about as he continues to build on his enormous potential and talent. Fans in Canada got to see the full effect of Sinner at his best back in August at the National Bank Open where he won the biggest title to-date of his young ATP career against Alex De Minaur. He beat Djokovic for the first time in his career in the round robin and seems poised to contend moving forward at the biggest tournaments in the sport.
Rest of the Field
It was a first appearance for Carlos Alcaraz at the year-end championships. Though he qualified a year ago, injuries kept his debut at the event stalled until the 2023 edition.
The 20-year-old Spaniard hasn’t been quite as sharp since winning his maiden Wimbledon title in July and although he advanced in Turin to the semifinals, he was no match for Djokovic who took him out 6-3, 6-2 to advance to the finals.
Despite a bit of a slower finish to the season, Alcaraz still took important steps forward this past year in his development, winning Wimbledon and his back-and-forth battle for the No.1 ranking with Djokovic was definitely one of the highlights of the year as the two traded the top spot multiple times.
Disappointment was bound to happen for some players in the Top Eight field and in particular for Stefanos Tsitsipas who lost his opening match to Sinner and then had to withdraw while trailing 1-2 in the opening set of his next match against Holger Rune.
It was also a tough week for Andrey Rublev who, despite playing quite well this Fall, finished 0-3 in his round-robin play.
The top eight men’s doubles tandems were also in competition in Turin and the team that stood above the rest was Rajeev Ram and Joe Salisbury. The British duo defeated Marcel Granollers and Horacio Zeballos by a score of 6-3, 6-4 to repeat as year-end ATP Finals Champions.
After the win, Ram had the following to say about their success in at the event, “We love this place. This is the biggest tournament we play on the ATP calendar all year and to win it twice in a row is something I never would have thought of and I’m so proud of.”
Highlights for 2023 from the established tandem in the 22 events they played together included titles in Lyon, New York at the US Open, Vienna and now of course Turin. They also fared well in Canada, making it to the finals at the NBO in Toronto in August.
The ATP's best return to Montreal next summer for the National Bank Open August 3 to 12, 2024 at IGA Stadium. 2024 Tickets are on sale. Get your tickets today!
The WTA's best return to Toronto next summer for the National Bank Open August 4 to 12, 2024 at Sobeys Stadium. 2024 Tickets are on sale. Get your tickets today!