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Novak Djokovic defeated Casper Ruud (7/5 6/3) in the final of the ATP Finals in Turin, on the 20th of November.  

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This new title allows the Serb to equal the record of Masters titles held by Roger Federer. Winning the last tournament of the year also enables Novak Djokovic to end the season in the top five for the fifteenth time.

This last win concludes a very particular 2022 season for Novak Djokovic. Affected by the Australian controversy, the former world number one had a rough time starting the season. He had a string of disappointing results in Dubai, Monte-Carlo, and Belgrade; before reaching back his level during the master in Madrid. Since his defeat at the French Open against Rafael Nadal (2/6 6/4 2/6 6/7), Novak Djokovic has made an almost flawless journey. He played four tournaments and won three of them. Having participated in only thirteen competitions, he managed to finish fifth in the world.

The first set of the encounter started with an endless rally from the back of the court won by Novak Djokovic. After an astonishing backhand down the line, he took the lead: 1/0. Despite two early break points on Casper Ruud’s serve, the Serb didn’t convert his opportunities: 1/1. Servers prevailed; love games followed each other. Novak Djokovic showed a constructed-forward tennis while Casper Ruud stood far behind his baseline: 5/5. The former world number one increased his intensity of play.  He multiplied deep balls and forehand accelerations. Casper Ruud couldn’t fight back: 7/5. Novak Djokovic took the lead of the final.

The Serb began the second set with confidence: 1/0. Casper Ruud relied on excellent first serves while Novak Djokovic remained flawless during his games of serve: 2/1, serve of the Norwegian to follow. The Wimbledon winner produced an aggressive tennis. The latter took every chance that he got to attack his opponent, while Casper Ruud showed his defensive abilities. The fourth player of the world ended up giving in. Novak Djokovic clinched a break: 3/1. The Serb dominated his service games, without giving his rival the slightest opportunity. Casper Ruud didn’t give up: 5/3. The five-time champion only had to serve for the championship. The tension was tangible. After a brilliant point, ‘The Djoker’ got his first match point. He sealed the final with an ace: 6/3.

Novak Djokovic looked physically weak at the beginning of the match. Nevertheless, he once again found the resources to win. The Serb played a flawless tennis: very few unforced errors, balls taken early, a forward-constructed game and brilliant accelerated forehands. As for Casper Ruud, he showed the extent of the progress he made in 2022. His serves were much more impactful. His backhand, which has been his weakness for a long time, was his greatest asset today – especially his defensive slice. The Norwegian still didn’t have the weapons to challenge Novak Djokovic in this match.

Next season promises to be exciting. The Australian Open has confirmed the participation of the Serb to the 2023 edition. The latter, in search of new records, already seems to be the favorite for the first Grand Slam of the year. Will Carlos Alcaraz be able to defend the number one spot in the rankings? Answer on the 16th of January.

Marnie Abbou

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