Novak Djokovic rallied from a set down – and a shock final-set fadeout – to defeat Hubert Hurkacz Saturday to power into his seventh Rolex Paris Masters final, clinching the year-end No. 1 FedEx ATP Ranking for a record seventh time in the process.
The 3-6, 6-0, 7-6(5) win guarantees that the Serb will finish the year No. 1, breaking a tie of six year-end No. 1 finishes he has shared with Pete Sampras (1993-1998).
“Just proud and extremely happy,” Djokovic said of clinching No. 1. “Obviously that was one of the biggest goals and it’s always one of the biggest goals, to try to be No. 1 and end the season as No. 1,” Djokovic said. “To do it for the record seventh time and surpass my childhood idol and role model, Pete, is incredible. Very grateful, very blessed to be in this position.”
Djokovic on Sunday will play for his sixth Paris title as he looks to break another significant record he shares: He is tied with Rafael Nadal for most ATP Masters 1000 titles won (36).
History Made As Djokovic Secures Record-Breaking Seventh Year-End No. 1
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Djokovic responded from dropping the first set to bagel Hurkacz in the second set and continued on to win 10 of 11 games to break open the match with a 4-1 lead in the third set. The Pole struggled to hit winners against the elastic Serb, who was always expected to be steadiest from the baseline, seemingly leaving Hurkacz without a clear path to victory.
But in a dramatic plot twist, the Pole rediscovered his first serve and penetrating groundstrokes to pressure Djokovic, who had seized momentum ostensibly by making fewer errors. Suddenly, “steady as she goes” no longer was good enough to get the job done given Hurkacz’s renewed confidence and “go big or go home” mindset.
Hurkacz broke back for 3-4 and then levelled at 4-all and saved a match point on his own serve at 4-5. Little separated the pair in the dramatic third-set tie-break, but Djokovic emerged victorious when Hurkacz narrowly pushed wide a backhand volley.
Despite a standout season that saw him come within one match of completing the Grand Slam at Flushing Meadows, the Belgrade native is looking for his first Masters 1000 title of the year. As he continues to round into form in his first tournament since the US Open, Djokovic successfully rallied from losing the first set for the 13th time this year.
“I was not concerned much,” Djokovic said of the lack of match practice coming into the tournament. “To be honest, I enjoyed my time off and spent plenty of time with my family and spent time at my tennis center in Serbia where I have a lot of work to do and some other things that occupy my time.
“I wasn’t bored without tennis, but I like competing so I was looking forward to coming to Paris and the biggest reason coming here was to clinch the year-end No. 1. Now that I managed to do it, it’s a huge relief, as well.”
In Sunday’s final he will play defending champion Daniil Medvedev, who will be looking to level his ATP Head2Head series against the Serb to 5-5. So while he is delighted to have clinched year-end No. 1, Djokovic is not resting.
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”The job is not done,” he said. “Obviously reaching the finals of one of the biggest tournaments that we have in our sport on our tour is something that stands out regardless of the year-end achievement that is completed.
”So hopefully going to have another great match tomorrow, and then take it from there.”
Miami champion Hurkacz will now turn his focus to his debut at the Nitto ATP Finals, where he may get the opportunity to improve his 0-3 ATP Head2Head record against Djokovic.