The Malta Independent 29 May 2024, Wednesday
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Djokovic wins record 7th ATP Finals title by beating Sinner in straight sets

Associated Press Monday, 20 November 2023, 07:07 Last update: about 7 months ago

Novak Djokovic ended the year just as he started it — by setting records.

The top-ranked Djokovic won a record-breaking seventh ATP Finals title on Sunday with a straight-set victory over home favorite Jannik Sinner.

Djokovic took 1 hour, 43 minutes to win 6-3, 6-3 as the Serbian continues to reach new heights at the age of 36.

He started 2023 with a record-extending 10th Australian Open title and went on to claim his 23rd Grand Slam singles trophy at the French Open, breaking Rafael Nadal's mark. Djokovic, who lost the Wimbledon final to Carlos Alcaraz, also won the U.S. Open.

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“One of the best seasons I’ve had in my life, no doubt,” Djokovic said. “To crown it with a win against a hometown hero in Jannik, who has played amazing tennis this week, is phenomenal."

Djokovic entered Sunday's final tied with Roger Federer on six titles at the season-ending tournament for the year’s top eight players.

And he stretched out his arms and beamed broadly after clinching his seventh when Sinner double-faulted.

The victory had echoes of the clinical way Djokovic dispatched second-ranked Carlos Alcaraz in Saturday's semifinal encounter.

“I’m very proud of the performances these last two days against Alcaraz and Sinner, probably the best two players in the world next to me and (Daniil) Medvedev at the moment, and the way they have been playing I had to step it up," Djokovic said.

“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 tactically played different today than I have in the group stage against Jannik, and just overall it was a phenomenal week.”

It was his fourth win over Sinner, who had recorded a first-ever victory against Djokovic in the group stage in Turin and was the first Italian to reach the final.

But Djokovic was in imperious form on Sunday and won 14 straight points from the end of the first set to the third game of the second to leave him firmly in control and subdue the Turin crowd.

Djokovic had already secured the year-end No. 1 ranking for a record-extending eighth time by winning his opening match at the ATP Finals.

After this tournament, Djokovic will become the first player to hold the No. 1 ranking for 400 weeks, with Roger Federer at 310 the only other man to eclipse the 300-week mark.

It was also only the second time in the last 15 years that a player has made the finals of all four Grand Slam tournaments and the ATP Finals. The only previous occasion was when Djokovic did it in 2015.

Sinner came into the final having won all of his matches in Turin and backed by a fervent home crowd, who had dreams of him becoming the first Italian to win the tournament in its 54-year history.

But the 22-year-old Sinner could offer little in response to a master class from Djokovic, especially in a blistering first set that lasted just 38 minutes and saw the Serbian win 20 of 22 service points. Djokovic also served up 13 aces during the match.

“Congratulations to you (Novak) for this week and not only: you started the season by winning and you ended it by winning, you won three Slams and many other tournaments,” Sinner said. “What else is there to say? You’re an inspiration not only for all those watching, but especially for the players.

“I also want to thank my team … we saw also today that I can still improve a lot but we can look at the positive things from this season. When we started the year I was one player and now I’m another. Thanks to you who have helped me understand so many things.”

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