The Serbian legend equals Federer’s record of six titles at year-end event
Novak Djokovic earned a record-equalling sixth Nitto ATP Finals title and a historic $4.7m payday when he defeated Casper Ruud 7-5, 6-3 in the Turin title match Sunday.
It was Djokovic’s high-class return game that proved the difference as he carved out all five of the break point opportunities in the match.
Djokovic’s big-match mentality prevailed as he sealed a 93-minute victory at the Pala Alpitour against Ruud.
“I missed a couple of forehands in the last game when I was serving for it,” Djokovic said after his win. “I had nerves, but I am really grateful to be able to serve the match out. I had a big ace to close out. Seven years [since winning this title] has been a long time. At the same time, the fact that I waited seven years makes this victory even sweeter and even bigger.”
Djokovic is five years older than the previous oldest Nitto ATP Finals champion, Roger Federer in 2011. The Serbian has now lifted the trophy at the season finale in three different decades, yet another achivevement to his longevity and ability to consistently compete against the best.
“I don’t know what the future holds, but I know that what I hold in my mind is a huge hunger still to win trophies,” said Djokovic in his post-match press conference. “Make history of this sport, compete on the highest level all around the world, bring good emotions to sports fans, tennis fans. That’s what drives me a lot.
“I have a lot of different motivational factors, and I don’t lack any motivation for the moment. Of course, we all have bad days or bad weeks. But generally the feel is still there.”
Djokovic was pleased with the way he had completed the victory in the final game against Ruud as he improved to 18-1 across his four final tour-level events of the 2022 season to lift his 91st tour-level trophy.
”It is finals. Usually these kind of matches are decided by very small margins,” the Serbian said after the match. “One break of serve was enough in both sets. I knew Casper was playing really well coming into this match. We both served really well and I think in some decisive moments, like the 12th game of the first set, I managed to put a few returns back in play.
”I made him run, made him play. I was really pleased with the way I played. I was looking to be very aggressive and it worked great. I am really pleased with the performance.”
“To my team, another year has passed on the ATP Tour,” he said at the trophy ceremony. “Thank you to everyone who helps me and pushes me everyday, Without you it would not be possible. It has been a year of many highs, some really big highs. Of course, some lows. I look forward to the next season already.”
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Ruud has delivered some strong performances on the big stage in 2022. As well as becoming champion in Buenos Aires, Geneva and Gstaad, the 23-year-old reached his first two Grand Slam finals at Roland Garros and the US Open and his maiden ATP Masters 1000 final in Miami. Yet he could do little to penetrate Djokovic’s rock-solid defence in Turin, where the Serbian also won 85 per cent (33/39) of points behind his first serve.