Novak Djokovic will be eager to end the historic 2021 season on a positive note. The Serbian will start his campaign for a sixth Nitto ATP Finals title against Casper Ruud on Monday. This year saw him clinch year-end No.1 in the FedEx ATP Rankings for a record-breaking seventh time. The 34-year-old 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.
Going into the Nitto ATP Finals on the back of the 86th tour-level title of his career, the Serbian star feels fresher than in previous years. Nonetheless, a tough test awaits him at the Pala Alpitour, with the best in the business competing for the coveted title. “I do feel fresher, because I haven’t played as much as in previous years, in terms of tournaments,” said Djokovic on Friday, ahead of the tournament’s start on 14th November. “I did have a lot of exhausting events, particularly in the Grand Slams, not just physically, but also mentally and emotionally.
He added: “[This year has been] unlike any other than I have had so far, because of the pressure of the achievement and the historical achievement. It did take a lot out of me. I felt like I needed a break in order to rejuvenate and get ready for the end of the season.
“I started well with the Paris win and I hope to do well in Turin… You have to play at a high intensity and play at your best. Sometimes you don’t have a lot of fuel in the tank, but you have to play five top matches to win this title [and] it requires a lot of energy.”
A day after clinching a seventh year-end No.1 finish in the FedEx ATP Rankings, the Serbian also secured a record-breaking 37th ATP Masters 1000 crown. He reached the milestone, by avenging his US Open final loss to Daniil Medvedev in the title clash of the Rolex Paris Masters.
The World No.1 features in the Green Group alongside Stefanos Tsitsipas, Andrey Rublev and Casper Ruud at the Nitto ATP Finals. Following 11 memorable years at The O2 in London, Djokovic has opened up about his preparations for the prestigious event in Turin.
“London was very successful for the Nitto ATP Finals,” said Djokovic. “It is one of the most spectacular arenas in the world [and] it couldn’t be a better setting really in front of a packed house each afternoon or evening. It was fitting for the most important event that the ATP owns. But I have always been a proponent of moving this tournament regularly, maybe every three or four years.
“Tennis has been booming on the men’s side in Italy, with Matteo, [Fabio] Fognini and [Jannik] Sinner in the past couple of years. There is a good vibe in the city and everyone looks forward to supporting the tournament, and Matteo in particular. Everyone here wants to finish off the year in the best possible way.”