Thursday 19 September 2019

Imperious Djokovic signs off in scintillating style

Novak Djokovic celebrates with the trophy
Novak Djokovic celebrates with the trophy

Paul Newman

After the finest year of Novak Djokovic’s career and one of the greatest seasons in tennis history there was always an inevitability about how the ATP World Tour Finals would end at Wembley.

Roger Federer did his best to hold back the tide of Serbian brilliance, but in the end there was no stopping Djokovic, who won 6-3, 6-4 in just 80 minutes to round off an extraordinary year for the 28-year-old from Belgrade.

Since losing to Ivo Karlovic in the quarter-finals of the Qatar Open in the first week of the season, the world No 1 has reached the final of 15 tournaments in succession and won 11 of them.

With 82 wins and just six defeats, he is the first player for seven years to win 80 or more matches in a season.

His prize money for the year stands at a record $18.8m (about £12.4m), which does not take into account the extra $2.26m (£1.49m) he has earned from the year-end bonus pool.

Djokovic’s total of 16,585 ranking points is almost double that of Andy Murray, who as a result of Federer’s defeat is confirmed as the year-end world No 2.

The Scot will surely be relieved to know that he will be seeded No 2 at the Australian Open in January, which means he cannot meet Djokovic before the final.

The Serb is the first player  to win these year-end championships four years in a row and at his current rate of success he looks sure to break plenty more records in years to come.

While Federer and Rafael Nadal lead Djokovic on the all-time list of Grand Slam champions, with 17 and 14 titles respectively to his 10, the world No 1 certainly has their measure at the moment.

 By beating Nadal in Saturday’s semi-final Djokovic levelled his head-to-head record with the Spaniard at 23 wins apiece, while this victory finally brought him level with Federer at 22-22.

“Overall this season has been as close to perfection as it can get,” Djokovic said afterwards. “I just feel blessed and overwhelmed with the emotion and the thrill of achieving such a great season. It inspires me even more to keep on going and hopefully playing at this level in the future.”

Three of Djokovic’s defeats this year were at the hands of Federer, who beat him in the finals in Dubai and Cincinnati and in the round-robin stage here last week, but on this occasion the 34-year-old Swiss was ground down by the Serb’s relentless excellence.

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