Novak Djokovic: ‘Quite Amazing’ To Break Pete Sampras’ Year-End No. 1 Record | ATP Tour

Top seed Novak Djokovic made the perfect start to his Nitto ATP Finals campaign, after overpowering debutant Casper Ruud in straight sets. Afterward, the World No. 1 christened the 93-minute victory by lifting his first trophy of the week in Turin – his record breaking seventh year-end ATP Tour No. 1 trophy presented by FedEx.

Djokovic, who is also in the hunt for his sixth Nitto ATP Finals trophy and first in Turin, broke his tie with childhood idol Pete Sampras. Between 1993-98, Sampras ended every season as World No. 1, while Djokovic now owns seven non-consecutive year-end No. 1 finishes.

“It feels amazing. Obviously it feels even better when you win a match and then you get your hands on that trophy that I’ve been blessed to lift seven times in my career,” Djokovic told press on Monday. “One more than Pete Sampras, who was my childhood hero. He was the one that got me going with tennis. The first time that I’ve watched a tennis match was his [1993] Wimbledon final… 

“Fast forward to today, it’s quite amazing for me to be in this position. I’m pretty grateful.”

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Before getting his hands on the trophy once again, Djokovic opened his account in Turin with a confident victory over Ruud. The top seed dropped just four points behind his first serve (35/39), and came back from a break down in the tight first set to win 7-6(4), 6-2.

Djokovic attributed his slow start to a combination of facing strong play from his in-form opponent – Ruud has won five titles this year – and needing a few games to adapt to the different conditions in Turin. The ATP’s season finale is being held in the northern Italian city for the first time, after an 12-year stint in London.

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“It was a really terrible start, but also funny because I’m still trying to figure out what happened,” Djokovic said with a rueful smile. “Casper started strong. He was serving well. The altitude, fast court, fast balls – it favours big servers. I knew he had a solid serve, but maybe not as good as Medvedev or Zverev. 

“He did positively surprise me with this serve, particularly in the first set. I just managed to read it better in the second set. But it was a close one.”

The victory has sent Djokovic to the top of the Green Group, which also includes Stefanos Tsitsipas and Andrey Rublev. Djokovic owns a 6-2 ATP Head2Head record against Tsitsipas, and will be meeting Rublev for the first time.

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