Novak Djokovic laid down the challenge to his rivals after completing another year as world No 1 with a somewhat hollow victory at the World Tour Finals in London.
“Right now, I’m at the pinnacle in my career,” the 27-year-old Serb declared after claiming a third consecutive ATP Finals title by default when Roger Federer withdrew before their showpiece final with a back injury.
“I physically feel very fit. I’m very motivated to keep on playing on a very high level. I’m going to try to use these years in front of me to fight for the number one of the world and fight for the biggest titles.”
Djokovic ends the season the top ranked player for the third time in four years having won a seventh grand slam title at Wimbledon and Masters 1000 titles in Miami, Indian Wells, Rome, Paris and this week’s year-ender in London.
His arch-rival Rafa Nadal is still recovering from a wrist injury and appendicitis, Andy Murray is struggling to return to his best form after back surgery a year ago and 33-year-old Federer cannot hold back time.
In contrast new dad Djokovic appears to be reaching his prime.
In London, he dropped only nine games in his three group matches before seeing off Japan’s Kei Nishikori in the semis and he will start 2015 having clearly set the benchmark for men’s tennis.
Djokovic said he was disappointed his year ended with a walkover victory — even if it meant he was the first to win the year-ender three times in succession since Ivan Lendl.
“This is probably the first time in history that this happens,” said Djokovic, who found out shortly before the final that Federer was withdrawing. “It’s a very awkward situation to talk about it, to be honest. You never like to win, especially these big matches against big rivals, with a retirement.”