At the close of yet another historic season, Novak Djokovic enters the Nitto ATP Finals with an eye on breaking another record.
The Serbian won three Grand Slams this season, equalling Rafael Nadal’s all-time best 22 men’s major singles titles at the Australian Open and then storming past that mark with further triumphs at Roland Garros and the US Open. He also extended his own ATP Masters 1000 record by winning his 39th and 40th titles at that level in Cincinnati and Paris.
He will add to two more precious records — finishing as year-end No. 1 for an eighth time and passing 400 weeks at No. 1 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings — if he can hold onto the top spot in Turin.
But that’s not all that’s on the line for the Serbian at the season finale. If he can repeat as champion, Djokovic will win his seventh Nitto ATP Finals crown and break a tie with Roger Federer for most at the prestigious year-end event.
Djokovic is well aware of the records he continues to chase and break. But while acknowledging the history, he remains grounded in the present.
“I try to be a good student of the game and keep track with the numbers, but at the same time, I also want to be able to just direct my attention to the next challenge,” he said after beating Grigor Dimitrov to win the Rolex Paris Masters. “As long as I’m an active player, I guess that’s going to be the mentality I will nurture.”
The next challenge will require every bit of the Serbian’s attention as he competes alongside the greatest champions of the 2023 ATP Tour season. After battling through a stomach virus during his Paris title run, Djokovic said he was feeling better after the final and was eager to turn the page to Turin.
“Every match is going to be like finals of a big tournament, because you play a top-eight player,” he said of the Nitto ATP Finals. “Every match carries a lot of [Pepperstone ATP Rankings] points, carries a lot of importance.
“It’s a group-stage format, which we don’t get to experience in any other tournament, so even if you lose a match or even two, in a round-robin system you can still go through semis. I had the perfect score in Torino last year, five [wins] out of five matches. I like playing there. I think I connect well with the Italian crowd. I’m going there with good feelings, with a lot of confidence. I haven’t lost a match since the Wimbledon final, so I’m really excited to hopefully finish off the season on a high.”
Following a narrow five-set defeat to Carlos Alcaraz at Wimbledon — a result that ultimately saw him fall one win short of a calendar-year Grand Slam — Djokovic has won 18 straight matches and three titles (Cincinnati, US Open, Paris). All of those matches came on hard courts, as did his title runs to start the season in Adelaide and at the Australian Open.
He will enter Turin with a hard-court record of 33-1 on the season, his lone defeat coming to Daniil Medvedev in the Dubai semis. At 51-5 on the year, Djokovic leads the ATP Tour with a 91% win rate. At the close of a brilliant season, he now turns his attention to picking up five more victories in Turin.
“My goal is to end up the season on the high note,” he said in an ominous warning to his fellow competitors. “On the highest note possible.”