Novak Djokovic has his sights set on one major goal at the Nitto ATP Finals: finishing as ATP Year-End No. 1 presented by Pepperstone for the record-extending eighth time.
“For me, the biggest goal right now is to end the season as the No. 1 player in the world, so hopefully I can clinch it. I need one win, so hopefully that happens,” Djokovic told ATP Media on Friday in Turin. “And then of course, I would love to win the tournament as well. But that’s the goal and then let’s see what happens afterwards.”
Should Djokovic win one match or Carlos Alcaraz lose one match at the season finale, the Serbian will earn the supreme honour in the sport. He last finished year-end No. 1 in 2021.
Djokovic will have an opportunity to control his own fate on Sunday evening when he begins his tournament against Holger Rune. The pair played just one week ago in the Rolex Paris Masters, where Djokovic won the quarter-final in nearly three hours of scintillating tennis.
“Holger has his debut in the [Nitto ATP] Finals. Obviously, along with [Carlos] Alcaraz, they are the same generation, one of the leaders of the Next Gen and probably one of the players that will carry the tennis in the decade to come,” Djokovic said. “We’re going to see a lot of him I’m sure in the future. He’s got Boris Becker, the legend of the game in his corner now and he’s been improving himself as well. Every time we face each other, it’s a close match, so I’ll probably have to expect that one again.”
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The 36-year-old will take confidence knowing he played well at the Pala Alpitour one year ago, when he lifted the Nitto ATP Finals trophy at the venue for the first time.
“I had the perfect score. Most of my matches, four of five I won straight sets. This is the third time we are here in Torino, there are I think a couple hundred metres, almost 300 metres [of] altitude, and maybe the fans cannot feel it, but we can feel it on the court,” Djokovic said. “The ball flies through the air, the conditions are played different. So it takes some days to really adjust. But it’s lovely. Lovely arena, great to be part of this event again and it’s a great attendance.
“People are really passionate about tennis and sport in general in Italy, with the Roma Internazionali tournament and here in Torino now having a tradition of Nitto [ATP] Finals played here in the city. It’s great. I’m really looking forward and I’m excited to perform.”
Djokovic is driven by more than just tangible accomplishments, he explained.
“I also love competing, I love the sport. That’s my greatest motivation really, because I’ve made a lot of records, I’ve broken a lot of records and it’s great,” Djokovic said. “But even if I leave professional tennis now and reflect on everything I’ve done, I can be extremely, extremely satisfied. So I don’t have a pressure to keep on competing, but I still have desire and still have the level.
“I’m playing at a very high level, so records are there obviously as a huge inspiration as well, no doubt, and history of the sport. I still want to create my own history and history of tennis and see how far I can go.”
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That pursuit will begin this week in Turin, where the 36-year-old leads Green Group alongside Jannik Sinner, Stefanos Tsitsipas and Rune. He cherishes the opportunity to compete against the best players in the world.
“It’s great. I’m again, honoured to be part of this event. It’s the pinnacle of ATP Tour. Other than Slams, this is the biggest tournament we have in the sport. And the best eight players in the world worked very hard the entire year. All the players who qualify for this event, it’s a great privilege,” Djokovic said. “It’s the only tournament that really has the group format. So even if you lose a match or two, you can still qualify for the semis. So I think that removes a little bit of pressure of losing a match.
“But still, you need to be at your best every single match because every single match is played at the quality of probably finals of the Masters 1000 events.”