TURIN, Italy—Novak Djokovic said there is no “end zone” for his career after becoming the oldest ATP Finals champion on Sunday, matching Roger Federer’s record six wins at the season-ending tournament.
Experience triumphed over youth as the 35-year-old easily dispatched 23-year-old Norwegian Casper Ruud 7-5 6-3 in Turin.
“There is no end zone, as they call it in American football. I don’t feel I have thoughts or ideas about how I want to end my career,” the 21-times major winner told reporters.
“I don’t know what the future holds, but I know that what I hold in my mind is a huge hunger still to win trophies, make history of this sport, compete on the highest level all around the world, bring good emotions to sports fans, tennis fans. That’s what drives me a lot.”
Djokovic is one major win behind Spain’s Rafa Nadal, who holds the outright record with 22 Grand Slam titles.
“I have a lot of different motivational factors,” he said. “And I don’t lack any motivation for the moment.”
Let’s hear it, champ
— ATP Tour (@atptour) November 20, 2022
The 35-year-old Djokovic is the oldest player to win the title and said the tournament did not leave him unscathed after a grueling three-set thriller against Russian Daniil Medvedev en route to the semi-finals.
“It was not easy to recover and to really be able to play well in the semis in less than 24 hours after that match,” he told reporters.
“It’s an internal battle with myself because there’s one voice that is always telling you you can’t do it, you’re too tired, this and that, right? The bad guy and the good guy. You try to feed the good guy.”
Djokovic ends the season on a high note after a year of ups and downs.
To my wife & children, family, team, sponsors, fans, everyone who stuck with me this year .. the journey has been challenging & we’ve endured a great deal together. I’m humbled by your support & grateful that it got us to this moment. Thank you from the bottom of my heart 🙏🏼❤️🏆 pic.twitter.com/P9zQhl7O3b
— Novak Djokovic (@DjokerNole) November 20, 2022
He was unable to defend his title at the Australian Open in January as he was deported from the country due to his refusal to get vaccinated against COVID-19.
His stance also meant he was barred from competing in the United States this year, including at the season’s final major — the U.S. Open.
“I look forward to having a couple of weeks off because I was really kind of on the needles an entire year whether it was for tournaments or waiting for permissions to go somewhere, so I’m really glad that I managed to end it in a positive way,” said Djokovic, who collected a seventh Wimbledon title in July.
The defeat capped a disappointing end to Ruud’s breakout year. The Norwegian had also reached the finals at Roland Garros and Flushing Meadows but came off second best.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.