“He’s the most effective participant on the earth, little doubt,” Novak Djokovic mirrored after his defeat to Carlos Alcaraz within the Wimbledon closing 4 months in the past. If the 36-year-old was setting himself a problem, the previous 4 months have proven how Djokovic responded: confronted with a brand new rival at this stage of his profession, Djokovic has risen once more. He finishes the 12 months because the undisputed world No 1, the most effective participant on the earth, and nonetheless the one to beat forward of 2024.
On Sunday in Turin, Djokovic capped one other dominant season by writing one other document into the historical past books. His straight-sets victory over Jannik Sinner secured a seventh ATP Finals crown and added to victories at three of the 4 grand slams this 12 months. It was solely that five-set defeat to Alcaraz within the Wimbledon closing, the one which bought away, that denied him a grand slam.
The ATP Finals ensured he completed with a flourish, and a symbolic one at that. After securing the year-end No 1 rating at first of the week, Djokovic admitted that he allowed his stage to dip and the Serbian was left requiring some luck to even progress from the round-robin stage.
However the semi-finals and closing introduced Djokovic with a possibility to ship an emphatic message. He first crushed Alcaraz in two chic units, producing probably the most one-sided scoreline but in what was the fifth match of their rivalry. Then confronted with Sinner, the house favorite in Turin who defeated Djokovic within the group phases, the 36-year-old raised his stage once more. Watching on for Amazon Video, Tim Henman mentioned Djokovic performed “a few of the greatest tennis I’ve ever seen” within the 6-3 6-3 win.
It isn’t a coincidence that Djokovic saved his peak for the 20-year-old Alcaraz, a participant Djokovic has praised as probably the most full opponent he has confronted, and the 22-year-old Sinner, who the Serbian sees as a future No 1. Sinner underlined his standing because the 12 months’s most improved participant together with his first-ever victory over the 24-time grand slam champion earlier within the week, roared on by his house followers in northern Italy, however was tamed by Djokovic’s ruthlessness and unerring accuracy in Sunday’s closing.
“I’ve been very happy with the previous two performances, in opposition to Alcaraz and Sinner, the most effective two gamers on the earth – subsequent to me and [Daniil] Medvedev in the meanwhile,” Djokovic mentioned after his record-breaking ATP Finals victory. It’s clear forward of 2024 that Djokovic expects to face not solely Alcaraz, however Sinner as nicely in grand slam finals subsequent season – and his efficiency in Turin confirmed simply how motivated Djokovic stays to proceed to disclaim the hopes and desires of the youthful era whereas he nonetheless can.
And in 2024, Djokovic will probably be pushed by the last word objective and the possibility to assert a document that solely comes round each 4 years – given he will probably be 41 in 2028, maybe this would be the final time as nicely.
However the Paris Olympics looms on the finish of July. The Olympic gold medal is the one main title Djokovic has not received in his profession and it could type the cornerstone of his ‘golden slam’ try of profitable all 4 grand slams and the Olympics in a single 12 months – a feat achieved solely by Steffi Graff in 1988, by no means earlier than by a male participant.
Djokovic was matter of truth. In 2021, he arrived in Tokyo having received the Australian Open, the French Open and Wimbledon, just for his dream to crumble within the semi-finals after a defeat to Alexander Zverev. By the US Open, Djokovic was exhausted and the grand slam evaporated too, with defeat to Medvedev in New York.
However Djokovic manages his schedule otherwise now. His plan for 2024 will focus solely on the 5 gems within the golden slam crown.
“Effectively, you possibly can win 4 slams and an Olympic gold,” he mentioned. “I’ve at all times the very best ambitions and targets. That’s not going to be totally different for the following 12 months. The drive that I’ve continues to be there. My physique has been serving me nicely, listening to me nicely. I’ve a terrific group of individuals round me. Motivation, particularly for the largest tournaments in sport, continues to be current. It nonetheless conjures up me to maintain going.”
The competitors is inspiring, too. However, as Alcaraz achieved the inconceivable at Wimbledon, after which as Sinner threatened to do the identical in Turin, Djokovic raised the usual once more. Little question, he’s the most effective participant on the earth.