One of the ATP Tour’s all-time greats, Novak Djokovic has made a habit of bringing his best to the Nitto ATP Finals.
The Serbian is a five-time champion at the season finale, racking up a 41-17 tournament record across 14 appearances at the prestigious event. He has advanced out of the round-robin stage 10 times, including in eight of his past nine appearances, and arrives at Turin’s Pala Alpitour chasing his fifth tour-level title of the 2022 season.
Before he attempts to equal Roger Federer’s record of six Nitto ATP Finals titles, Djokovic spoke to ATPTour.com about his past successes at the season finale and his path to qualification this year.
Success at season finale began with unexpected maiden crown in China
Djokovic’s 2008 season started in memorable fashion. The Serbian lifted his maiden Grand Slam title at the Australian Open before clinching ATP Masters 1000 crowns at Indian Wells and in Rome.
Yet despite staying consistent enough to secure his spot at the 2008 year-end finals (then known as the Tennis Masters Cup) in Shanghai for the second time, the 21-year-old came into the event having not won a trophy since May. Djokovic rediscovered his title-winning form in style in China, however, winning four of his five matches to claim his first title at the event.
“Back in 2008, I was still a youngster, and [only] qualified for the second time for the world Tour finals,” the Serbian told ATPTour.com. “I remember I was on a run [in Shanghai]. I remember my performances very well and played a really fantastic five matches.”
Group stage wins against Juan Martin del Potro and Nikolay Davydenko and a three-set semi-final triumph against Gilles Simon earned Djokovic a berth in the final, where he was to face World No. 5 Davydenko once again.
“The one in the final against [Nikolay] Davydenko was kind of the peak of the tournament for me,” said Djokovic, who prevailed 6-1, 7-5 to claim the title. “Playing against a guy who was in form on one of the most beautiful tennis stadiums that we have on the Tour.
“I remember it very well, and it is the best way to finish the season for a professional Tour player, with a title at the world Tour finals, and go to the holidays with some good feelings and good sensations coming into a new season.”
Serbian won four consecutive titles from 2012 to 2015
From 2012 to 2015, Djokovic was almost untouchable in London. The Serbian won 19 of 20 matches at the O2 Arena en route to a record four consecutive Nitto ATP Finals titles. Even in a career as storied as his, that period still stands out.
“That was the best run I ever had, no doubt,” said Djokovic of his streak, although those titles came as part of a wider period of extended success for the Serbian. He won 31 tour-level crowns from 2012 to 2015 and reached 17 finals in a row from January 2015 to January 2016.
Djokovic went unbeaten at the Nitto ATP Finals in London across 2012, 2013 and 2014 before his 16-match winning streak at the event was ended by Roger Federer in the 2015 group stage. He responded to that defeat in stunning fashion, however, reeling off wins against Tomas Berdych and Rafael Nadal before taking his revenge on Federer in the championship match to seal his fourth consecutive title.
“One of the greatest challenges I think that a tennis professional has on the men’s Tour is consistency,” said the seven-time year-end No. 1. “That always has been my goal, to try to be continuously solid, week in, week, out, particularly at the big events, Grand Slams and Masters 1000s. To be able to qualify for the last eight but also to be able to build ranking points and stay at the top of the men’s game as much as possible.
“I was able to do that incredibly well in that period, so I would say that is the best run I had.”