Novak Djokovic hailed his 2023 season as “one of the best” of his career after clinching a record-extending eighth year-end No. 1 finish.
He has only played 12 tournaments this year, including the ATP Finals, but has won six of them, including three Grand Slams.
He is also currently on a 19-match winning run that stretches back to the Wimbledon final, where he lost to Carlos Alcaraz.
Asked how this stacks up against some of his greatest seasons, Djokovic said: “One of the best years. I wouldn’t say the best, but one of the best.
“I mean, the fact that I’ve won three out of four Slams and played a final in the fourth and it’s still not the best year of my life, it’s quite nice to have that kind of situation.
“It’s definitely one of the best seasons. I had a couple of years, I think three times, that I won three out of four Slams in a season…in those years, I won more matches. I mean, I played more tournaments. I was really feeling very dominant on the tour.
“It’s quite different circumstances this year comparing to all the other years because I played, what, 10, 11 tournaments this year.
“I just managed to peak at the right tournaments, at the right time. That’s what matters to me really. I mean, Grand Slam season, one of the best for sure.
“Overall, especially in the last couple months, I haven’t lost a match since Wimbledon, so…I’ve been feeling great on the court and playing really well. But it’s hard to compare.”
This is the fourth season that Djokovic has won three of the four Slams.
Among his other standout seasons are 2011, where he went 70-6 with 10 titles – including three Slams – and 2015, where he finished 82-6 and won 11 titles, again including three Slams.
He went into this year’s ATP Finals knowing he needed just one win to ensure he will finish the season atop the rankings.
“I was very eager to win tonight’s match and get that monkey off my back,” he said on court after beating Rune.
“It means a lot obviously. I knew coming into the tournament here I needed only one win to clinch the year-end No. 1. I really wanted that to happen already tonight.
“I didn’t want to prolong the situation and complicate this particular goal. I’m really glad that I managed to do that tonight.
“It always has been a huge objective and huge goal of mine to be No. 1 in the world. Other than Grand Slams, that’s what counts the most. To finish off the year as No. 1 in the world at this stage of my life and career is something really amazing.
“At the beginning of the year, I really wasn’t prioritising that, I must say. I was prioritising more Grand Slams. Because of the great results, particularly in Grand Slams, accumulated points, I think I put myself in a very good position to fight for year-end No. 1.
“Winning Paris put me in a great position. So I really went for it. Anything that happens from this moment onwards I guess in this tournament is a bonus for me.”
Djokovic will next face home favourite Jannik Sinner.
“He’s been playing maybe [the] tennis of his life this year, best season of his career,” said Djokovic about Sinner.
“Obviously playing at home with the Italian crowd helps a lot, boosts his confidence, gives him in a way wings to play his best tennis, which he did today [against Tsitsipas].
“I know his game very well. I never lost to him, but we had some really close matches. Last time we played in semis of Wimbledon [when Djokovic won in straight sets].
“I’m going to obviously prepare myself well for the match. I know what to expect. I can expect the highest of him with, of course, the support of the crowd.
“It’s going to be nice I think for the tournament, us facing each other. I think we both in great form. Let’s see what happens.”
World No. 2 Alcaraz plays his first group match on Monday against Alexander Zverev.
In the other Red Group match, Daniil Medvedev takes on fellow Russian Andrey Rublev.
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