Novak Djokovic claimed yet another record on Sunday with his seventh ATP Finals title, defeating local hero Jannik Sinner 6-3 6-3 in Turin and leaving tennis fans wondering when he will abandon his tennis dominance.
Djokovic reached the finals at the end of a challenging year that brought three Grand Slams, taking his total to an all-time best of 24 and a 40th Masters 1000 title.
He will complete 400 weeks at world number one after capping an incredible season – in which he also reached the Wimbledon final – by edging out retired great Roger Federer in victories at the season-ending tournament.
The 36-year-old won the record title by defeating the two best young players in the game, Sinner, in straight sets and defeating semi-finalist Carlos Alcaraz, showing he still has a lot to give with the Paris Olympics approaching and a gold medal , the only major title missing from his list of honors.
“Very special, one of the best seasons I’ve had in my life, without a doubt. To top it off with a victory against hometown hero Jannik, who has played incredible tennis all week, is phenomenal,” said Djokovic.
“I’m very proud of the performances of the last two days against Alcaraz and Sinner, who are probably the two best players in the world, after me and Medvedev at the moment. The way they’ve been playing, I had to step up.”
Sinner was trying to become the first Italian to win the finals and looked like the right man to do it after his impressive group stage victory over Djokovic.
But the 22-year-old, like Alcaraz in Saturday’s semi-final, simply couldn’t cope with Djokovic, a man on a mission who hit his best form at exactly the right time in the tournament.
However, it is a testament to how far Sinner, a four-time winner this year, came last year, that he held Djokovic’s tournament fate in his hands at the end of the group stage, when defeat to Holger Rune would have sent the Serbian returned home early.
Record holder Djokovic
Sinner saved Djokovic’s skin and ended up paying for it in the final, but the quality of his performances at the Pala Alpitour have been a cause for much optimism in Italy and suggest he should be a Grand Slam contender next season.
“We saw today that there is still a lot to work on… but we can see the positives from this season,” Sinner said.
“When I started this season I was one type of player, now I am another. Let’s see how we go next season.”
Djokovic took control early in the match, breaking Sinner at the first opportunity in game four and then comfortably serving out the opening set.
Such was his dominance that Djokovic silenced a partisan crowd that has been unruly throughout Sinner’s matches, and he immediately broke serve again at the start of the second set.
He scored 14 consecutive points from the start of the last game of the first set until the third game of the second, which was eventually won by Sinner just to keep his serve.
Sinner looked like he was going to get run over, but he showed big heart and brought the crowd to its feet by holding serve in game seven, a 15-minute mini-epic in which Djokovic had two break points, to remain at 4-3.
However, in the end, he was unable to stay with Djokovic and retired from the match in disappointing fashion with a double fault.
Earlier, Rajeev Ram and Joe Salisbury retained their doubles title with a 6-3, 6-4 win over Marcel Granollers and Horacio Zeballos.
The US Open champions retained their title with a near-perfect run in Turin, remaining unbeaten in five matches.
American Ram and British Salisbury extended their winning streak in the season-ending tournament to 10 matches after also winning last year’s title undefeated.