The greater the stakes, the greater the performance from Novak Djokovic. This has always been one of the key pillars of Djokovic’s success as he has swept up all significant titles in sight so many times over, and it has also been perfectly demonstrated throughout another triumphant week in Turin. Tumaini Caralyol, —The Guardian, 19 November 2023
By Roger Childs
The final is the match that counts
In the ATP Finals in Turin, Djokovic beat local hopeful Jannik Sinner 6-3. 6-3. In the round-robin section of the tournament The Italian had beaten the Serbian superstar 6-4, 6-4, but Djokovic still qualified for the semi-finals. Just as in the Rugby World Cup when France beat the All Blacks and Ireland beat the Springboks in the round-robin section, it was the latter in each case, who went through to contest the final.
The Nitto ATP finals which pits the eight best men players against each other, is the toughest tournament of the year as there are no easy first and second round games.
Just too good
Djokovic is often a slow starter, but not this time. His focus and determination to win were there from the start. He broke Sinner’s serve early in the first set and breezed through to win 6-4. The Serb’s success was based around –
- his powerful and consistent serving with about 80% first serves going in
- superb forehand returns which were often too fast for Sinner – over 150kph
- fewer unforced errors
- speedy movement round the court with ground stroke placements which kept the Italian moving from side to side.
An exciting second set
Djokovic carried his superb form into the second set and it was the third game before the Italian picked up his first point! Breaking Sinner’s first serve, set him on the road to an easy win. After a number of earlier love service games, Djokovic was vulnerable later in the set, but Sinner couldn’t convert the few break points he got.
In the seventh game, with Djokovic leading 4-2, Sinner nearly lost his serve again but just survived in a game that lasted over 15 minutes.
The Italian was always under pressure and :-
- made three times as many unforced errors as his opponent
- on one occasion came to the net on a return which was too short and was easily beaten by a well-placed lob
- failed to challenge on one of his deep returns which was wrongly called out
- just couldn’t hammer in enough first serves
- hit a couple of easy volleys out of play.
Easily breaking Sinner’s serve again in the ninth game, gave the world number one a comprehensive victory.
Stamping his authority
This was the seventh victory for Novak Djokovic in the prestigious tournament which is a record. Once again he finishes top of the men’s rankings at the end of the year and, despite being 36, shows no sign of slowing down.
He is already the record holder for wins in
- grand slams – 24
- Nitto ATP Finals – 7
- Masters 1000 tournaments – 40.
The Serb also easily holds the record for number of weeks as world number one – 400. His next target is ATP titles won. He sits on 98 and will now seek the top spot ahead of Jimmy Connors 109, and Roger Federer 103.
Djokovic commented after his finals win over Jannik Sinner: “One of the best seasons I’ve had in my life, no doubt. To crown it with a win against a hometown hero in Jannik, who has played amazing tennis this week, is phenomenal.