Novak Djokovic and his record-breaking streak continued on Saturday, as the Serbian reached another astonishing feat on the back of his incredible come-from-behind victory over Hubert Hurkacz. Djokovic rallied from a set down to overcome Hurkacz to reach his seventh Rolex Paris Masters final. As a result, the 34-year-old clinched the year-end No. 1 FedEx ATP Ranking for a record seventh time. The 3-6, 6-0, 7-6 victory on Saturday ensured that the Serbian will finish the year No.1. Thereby, he will break the tie of six year-end No.1 finishes he has shared with American legend Pete Sampras (1993-1998).
“Just proud and extremely happy,” Djokovic said of clinching No.1. “Obviously that was one of the biggest goals and it’s always one of the biggest goals, to try to be No. 1 and end the season as No. 1. To do it for the record seventh time and surpass my childhood idol and role model, Pete, is incredible. Very grateful, very blessed to be in this position.”
— ATP Tour (@atptour) November 6, 2021
The 34-year-old, who extends his record as the oldest man to finish year-end No.1, had come within one victory of completing the Grand Slam in 2021. He went 27-1 at the four major championships, winning the trophies at the Australian Open, Roland Garros and Wimbledon. His bid to win all four Grand Slams in the same year ended in the US Open final loss to Daniil Medvedev.
It is also interesting to note that this marks the 17th time in the past 18 seasons (barring Andy Murray in 2016) that the year-end No. 1 has been held by one of Djokovic, Rafael Nadal (five times – 2008, ’10, ’13, ’17, ’19) or Roger Federer (also five times – 2004-07, ’09).
On Sunday, Djokovic will play for his sixth Paris title. He will be looking to break another significant record, as he is tied with Rafael Nadal for most ATP Masters 1000 titles won (36).
Meanwhile, Andrea Gaudenzi, ATP Chairman, said, “Finishing the season as No. 1 is a monumental achievement. To do it seven times, in this incredible era of men’s professional tennis, is hard to describe. Novak deserves huge credit and recognition for continuing to redefine excellence in our sport, year after year. Congratulations to him and his team on this outstanding new milestone.”
Earlier on Saturday, Djokovic started the match slowly, as Hurkacz won the opening set. The Serbian, however, bounced back in style, winning the second set without losing a single game. The 34-year-old maintained his momentum to take a 4-1 lead in the third set. But in a dramatic twist, the Pole rediscovered his first serve and penetrating groundstrokes to put pressure on Djokovic.
In an incredible turn of events, Hurkacz broke back for 3-4 and then levelled at 4-all. He then saved a match point on his own serve at 4-5. There was little to separate them in a closely-fought third-set tie-break. However, Djokovic emerged victorious when Hurkacz narrowly pushed wide a backhand volley. In Sunday’s final, Djokovic will either play defending champion Daniil Medvedev or Olympic gold medallist Alexander Zverev.