After achieving the year-end No. 1 position for a record-extending seventh time, it was undoubtedly a moment to treasure for the 24-time Grand Slam champion.
Novak Djokovic stroked his chest, knelt, laid his right hand on the court, and gazed inward.
Djokovic needed just one match win at the ATP Finals to ensure his place at the top, and he got it in his first, defeating Holger Rune 7-6 (4), 6-7 (1), 6-3 over more than three hours on Sunday and into Monday early.
“It was a very emotional and tough win because of the significance of tonight’s match,” Djokovic said in a statement. “That was added pressure, and attention.”
“It means a lot,” Djokovic remarked. “You could see a lot of emotions on the court.” I could feel it. I was desperate to win tonight’s match and get the monkey off my back.”Djokovic, 36, surpassed former record holder Pete Sampras (six years at No. 1) two years ago.
Last year, Carlos Alcaraz won the award.
Djokovic will become the first player to hold No. 1 for 400 weeks after this tournament, with Roger Federer the only other man to surpass the 300-week milestone at 310.
If Djokovic lifts the trophy next weekend, he will break a tie with Federer and win his seventh finals championship.
“A big goal has been achieved; everything else is now a bonus,” Djokovic added.
Djokovic has won 19 consecutive matches since his five-set loss to Alcaraz in the Wimbledon final in July.
Earlier in the day, Jannik Sinner defeated Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-4, 6-4 in the same group.
Djokovic closed up a tight first set with a scorching forehand return winner, then flexed his right biceps and held the posture for a few moments before delivering an impressive fist pump.
The 20-year-old Rune was making his season-ending debut at the tournament for the year’s top eight players and forced Djokovic to a deciding set for the fourth time in five career encounters.
Djokovic also defeated Rune in three sets at the Paris Masters earlier this month.After giving up an early break in the third, Djokovic shattered two rackets with his foot before sitting down for the changeover. But he swiftly regained his calm — and the advantage — before clinching the match shortly after midnight.