Three Days in Turin. Title of a thriller? Travelogue? Romance? No on all counts. In this case, it describes the final stages of Novak Djokovic’s complicated yet productive 2022, a rollercoaster-like year capped off Sunday evening with a 93-minute, 7-5, 6-3 victory over Casper Ruud in the finals of the Nitto ATP Finals. The win netted Djokovic $4,740,300 in prize money, the most ever awarded a champion at a single event.

“I made him run, made him play,” said Djokovic on the ATP website. “I was really pleased with the way I played. I was looking to be very aggressive and it worked great. I am really pleased with the performance.”

Looking back on a year that began with Djokovic unable to play in Australia and continued with absences from a pair of North American swings, Djokovic’s coach, Goran Ivanisevic said, “I think somebody from upstairs look at all this year and say, 'Okay, you going to win the year like this.' He deserve it. Nobody knows how was it to be him, to be the part of the team, was not easy year. But paid off.”

This evening’s ending versus Ruud was relatively simple compared to what had happened over the prior two afternoons. In a Friday round-robin match, Djokovic took three hours and 11 minutes to get past Daniil Medvedev in a third-set tiebreaker. Then came yesterday’s semi, Djokovic grinding through nearly two tension-filled hours to squeak by Taylor Fritz, 7-6 (5), 7-6 (6).

Though on several occasions over this 72-hour period, Djokovic appeared dizzy and physically wavering, again and again he played superbly when it mattered most. Djokovic’s accuracy and efficiency in the finals was exemplary. In the first set, with Ruud serving at 5-6, 30-15, a tiebreaker appeared likely. Then came a Djokovic inside-in forehand winner, followed at 30-all by a deep crosscourt backhand that along its path ticked the tape, an awkward skip that triggered a netted Ruud backhand. Holding his first set point, Djokovic peppered the Ruud backhand with a barrage of inside-out forehands. Unable to keep up, Ruud at last drove one long.

“He plays more flat than myself,” said Ruud. “I think that can be a challenge sometimes. I felt it today. I was not really able to play the shots that I wanted to or—what should I say—take control of the game because he keeps playing with good depth, flat shots that kind of skid off the court, which are tough to attack. I hope that I can learn how to play this way indoor.”

By lifting his sixth ATP Finals trophy, Djokovic has now tied Federer for the all-time record for most ATP Finals titles.

By lifting his sixth ATP Finals trophy, Djokovic has now tied Federer for the all-time record for most ATP Finals titles.


As the second set got underway, Djokovic remained rock-solid. He broke Ruud at 1-2 and continued to be in control of one rally after another. Serving for the title at 5-3, 30-30, Djokovic reached match point with a nimble dash to a Ruud drop shot, followed by a piercing crosscourt backhand. On his first championship point, Djokovic struck an ace down the T.

Said Ivanisevic, “But his serve is one of the best shots which people, they don't talk, because they have so many other things, they forget to talk about his serve. He has one of the best serves. Especially when it's tight, it's tough, especially this week he was hitting unbelievable serve under pressure.” In today’s match, Djokovic hit nine aces, no double-faults and won a whopping 69 percent of his second serve points.

“I missed a couple of forehands in the last game when I was serving for it,” Djokovic said on the ATP website. “I had nerves, but I am really grateful to be able to serve the match out. I had a big ace to close out. Seven years [since winning this title] has been a long time. At the same time, the fact that I waited seven years makes this victory even sweeter and even bigger.”

Djokovic was particularly happy to be joined for this title run by his entire family, including his children, five-year-old daughter, Tara, and eight-year-old son, Stefan. “I took both of my children, particularly my son, a lot to the tennis training sessions, warmups, matches,” he said. “He was very loud, I must say. I was very surprised. I could hear his voice the entire time. He was very much into it. They both are now aware of what's going on, what the father is doing.”

For Ruud, now ranked third, it’s been a glorious year. But perhaps it’s also one he’d prefer not to repeat. In addition to winning singles titles at three ATP 250 clay court events, the powerful Norwegian reached four high-stakes finals: Miami, Roland Garros, the US Open and the ATP Finals. Those results constitute great building blocks. But no player wants to win titles only at 250 events on one surface or own yet another quartet of runner-up trophies.

“I mean, in the end it's been disappointing to end up losing these big finals,” said Ruud. “Overall if you gave me an offer to end the year at No. 3, play the finals that I've played, at the 1st of January this year, I would probably sign the contract right away... But I still feel like there are room for improvements, so that's a good thing, I believe to still be happy and know that there is still room for improvement, which is a good thing.”

Djokovic is the only player ever to win the ATP Finals in three different decades.

Djokovic is the only player ever to win the ATP Finals in three different decades.


When it comes to the cornerstones of contemporary pro tennis, Ruud is well-equipped, the owner of a first-rate forehand, an improved backhand, a terrific serve and a tranquil manner in competition. How well Ruud adds to that arsenal will greatly shape his story in the coming years.

The elimination of ranking points at Wimbledon and the COVID vaccine-related restrictions that kept Djokovic out of Australia and North America in 2022 leave him ranked fifth in the world. That was but one of a few rare scenarios that have hit the tennis world this year. Though Rafael Nadal won two major titles, he has finished ranked second, while Carlos Alcaraz, winner of one major, sits atop the rankings.

“But in my mind I always see myself as the best player in the world, of course,” said Djokovic. “I have that kind of mentality and that kind of approach. Regardless of who is across the net, regardless of what the surface is, regardless of what season it is, what number of the professional season in my career we're facing, I mean, it's always the same. The ambitions are as high as possible.”

The title run in Turin adds yet another chapter to Djokovic’s epic tale. This is the sixth time Djokovic has won the ATP Finals, tying Roger Federer for the most all-time. Djokovic is now also the only man to win this tournament in three different decades, a demonstration of sustained excellence associated with such masters of longevity as Ken Rosewall and Jimmy Connors.

While contenders like Ruud are at the phase of their careers when they measure themselves in the moment, for a player of Djokovic’s stature, the race to excel also takes place on the highest possible plains. As Djokovic said in Turin as a Sunday evening of work turned into a Monday morning of reflection, “Why not try it? Why not dream about it? I have no problem to verbalize that I have biggest goals, that I want to be the best, that I want to win every tournament.” When Djokovic kicks his 2023 effort into high gear, he might well look back at this 72-hour period in Turin as the beginning, a late-year reassertion of excellence that has served as an exclamation point and potential catalyst.