Djokovic Caps Phenomenal Turin Week, Wins Record-Breaking 7th ATP Finals Title

Novak Djokovic (photo: Giampiero Sposito/FITP)

TURIN/WASHINGTON, November 19, 2023 (by Michael Dickens)

For the second time in less than a week, Italian favorite Jannik Sinner took on World No. 1 and six-time Nitto ATP Finals champion Novak Djokovic in Sunday’s title match at the Pala Alpitour in Turin.

Last Tuesday, the World No. 4 Sinner prevailed over Djokovic, 7-5, 6-7 (5), 7-6 (2) in a thrilling three-hour, nine-minute match that brought down the arena. Sinner showed impressive skills all week in winning four consecutive matches. Could he do it, again, and beat Djokovic for a second time in the same tournament?

“It doesn’t really matter the matches before, how they have been. Especially with this format, you can win against one, but after you can lose. It’s different,” Sinner said before facing Djokovic. “But still happy that I can go one more time on the court here in Turin. Good atmosphere. Hopefully I can show some good tennis.”

Meanwhile, this was the fourth time Djokovic had played the same opponent twice in the Nitto ATP Finals and Sinner was attempting to become the first player to post two wins over the Serbian legend.

“He’s been playing fantastic tennis, arguably his best tennis of his life on this stage against Top 10 players,” Djokovic said after defeating Carlos Alcaraz in the semifinals. “We played 7-6 in the third, very close match the other night. Atmosphere was unbelievable, I mean electric, obviously. I don’t expect anything less than that, probably even louder than what we had in the group stage matchup.

“So it’s finals. I’ve been in this situation before many times. I’m really happy with the way I’m feeling, the way I’m playing, so hopefully I can deliver my A game [Sunday].”

Djokovic, 36, delivered a phenomenal performance against Sinner and beat the 22-year-old South Tyrolean, 6-3, 6-3, in one hour and 43 minutes, to win a record seventh Nitto ATP Finals crown, breaking the tie he shared with Swiss great Roger Federer. With it the legend grows for Djokovic.

Djokovic has now won seven of the nine Nitto ATP Finals title-round matches he has played. His trophies have come in 2008, 2010-11, 2014-15, 2022 and now 2023.

“It’s one of the best seasons I’ve had in my life, no doubt,” Djokovic said during a court side interview after achieving his 55th victory of the season against just six defeats. “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.

“I had to win the matches and not wait for them to hand me the victory and that’s what I’ve done. I think I played different tactically than I did in the group stage against Jannik, and just overall it was a phenomenal week.”

As it happened, Djokovic won the 38-minute opening set, 6-3, after breaking Sinner in the fourth game to go ahead 3-1. He played a near-perfect set after hitting seven aces, winning 88 percent of his first-serve points and causing Sinner to commit 13 unforced errors. Djokovic kept the points short and controlled many if not most of the rallies, too.

Next, Djokovic wasted no time in breaking Sinner at love to begin the second set after the young Italian tried to hit a slice backhand on the sixth shot of the rally but to no avail. He hit his eighth and ninth aces to surge ahead 2-0. However, Sinner recovered nicely and held after saving  three break points to prevent going down by a double break. Then, with Djokovic ahead 3-2, Sinner gained break points at 15-40, but was stymied after Djokovic won four straight points to hold for 4-2.

Then, the two competitors locked in on an epic and dramatic 16-minute, 22-point game, which included eight deuces, in which Sinner saved a couple of break points by centimeters. At last, he held his serve to remain within a game after striking his seventh ace.

Soon, Djokovic held steady for 5-3 after striking his 13th ace up the middle. It was a moment of truth for Sinner. As the crowd continued to cheer for him, yelling “Jannik, Jannik,” Djokovic remained focused and quickly gained a match point after Sinner netted a forehand return. Finally, Djokovic won on his first championship point when Sinner committed his first double fault of the match.

Game, set, match, championship, Djokovic. The seven-time Nitto ATP Finals champion and eight-time Year-End No. 1 raised his arms in victory and the celebration was on with his team, his family – including his two children, Stefan and Tara – and his fans.

By the end, Djokovic had struck 13 aces to zero double faults, hit 17 winners to 10 unforced errors, won 91 percent (29 of 32) of his first-serve points, saved both break points he faced and outpointed Sinner 72-48. On the other side of the net, Sinner finished with eight aces and one double fault, won only 57 percent (28 of 49) of his first-serve points, hit 18 winners and committed 30 unforced errors. His season record fell to 61-15.

In his post-match press conference, Sinner praised Djokovic’s performance and said he would learn from his own experience.

“For one and a half sets, he served really, really good. It was tough to play,” Sinner admitted. “But in the other way, I was enjoying out there, no? It was obviously final. It is something different.

“He deserved to win today, no? He played better in the important moments.”

Among the latest accolades for Djokovic:

• He passed Federer for most all-time Nitto ATP Finals titles with seven.

• It was his 50th career ATP Finals match win, second all-time.

• Djokovic remains the top-ranked player on the ATP Tour for a record 400th week.

By the numbers

Novak Djokovic is the first player since 2015 (when he accomplished the feat) to reach the final of all four Grand Slams and the Nitto ATP Finals. Only two men have made all five finals in the same year: Djokovic in 2015 and 2023, and Roger Federer in 2006 and 2007.

“Quotable …”

“They’ve been so good the past couple of days, watching tennis. It’s a thrill. I always wanted to perform in front of them once they reached the age when they are aware of what’s going on. I think this is the age right now. They are both conscious of what is happening and I’m so grateful to be a father of these two wonderful angels. They blessed me with so much happiness and joy in my life. They give me strength.”

Novak Djokovic, during his post-match on-court interview, describing the thrill of winning his record seventh Nitto ATP Finals title in front of his children.