Novak Djokovic won a record-breaking seventh ATP Finals title yesterday after beating local hero Jannik Sinner 6-3, 6-3 in Turin. World number one Djokovic moves clear of retired great Roger Federer in victories at the season-ending tournament after denying Italian Sinner a triumph on home soil.
Djokovic came into the Finals at the end of a year which has brought three Grand Slams, taking his total to an all-time best of 24, and a 40th Masters 1000 title. And he has crowned an incredible season – in which he also reached the Wimbledon final – with yet another record, comfortably seeing off two of the game’s best young players in the process.
Sinner was bidding to become the first ever Italian to claim a Finals crown and looked like the right man to do it after his impressive group stage win over Djokovic. But the 22-year-old, like Carlos Alcaraz in Saturday’s semi-final, simply could not handle Djokovic, a man on a mission who hit his best form at exactly the right time in the tournament.
It is a testament however to how far Sinner has come in the past year that he had Djokovic’s tournament fate in his hands at the end of the group stage, when defeat by Holger Rune would have sent the Serb home early. Sinner saved Djokovic’s skin and in the end paid for it in the final, but the quality of his performances at the Pala Alpitour has been a cause for much optimism in Italy and suggests that he should be a Grand Slam contender next season.
Djokovic took control early in the match, breaking Sinner at the first opportunity in game four and then comfortably serving out the opening set. Such was his dominance that Djokovic silenced a partisan crowd which has been rambunctious for all of Sinner’s matches, and he immediately broke serve again at the start of the second set.
He reeled off 14 straight points from the start of the final game of the first set into the third game of the second, which was eventually won by Sinner to just hold his serve. Sinner looked like he was going to be walked over but he showed huge heart and brought the crowd to its feet when he held his serve in game seven, a 15-minute mini-epic in which Djokovic had two break points, to stay at 4-3. However in the end he couldn’t stay with Djokovic and in the end surrendered the match in disappointing fashion with a double fault.
Earlier, Rajeev Ram and Joe Salisbury retained their ATP Finals doubles title on Sunday as they cruised to a 6-3, 6-4 victory over Marcel Granollers and Horacio Zeballos. The US Open champions kept hold of their crown with a near-perfect campaign in Turin, going unbeaten in their five matches.
American Ram and Briton Salisbury took their winning streak at the season-ending tournament to 10 matches after also sweeping to last year’s title undefeated. Granollers and Zeballos missed out on the year-end top spot in the world rankings following the straight-sets defeat, with their eliminated Green Group opponents Ivan Dodig and Austin Krajicek remaining in first.
Serbia’s Novak Djokovic celebrates with the trophy after winning ATP Finals in Turin. (Reuters)