After Winning Paris Masters, Djokovic Reflects On His Latest Achievements

Novak Djokovic (photo: ATP Tour video)

PARIS/WASHINGTON, November 8, 2021 (by Michael Dickens)

After Novak Djokovic finished soaking in the plaudits from the 17,000 fans who filled Accor Arena for Sunday afternoon’s Rolex Paris Masters showdown between the World No. 1 from Serbia and World No. 2 Daniil Medvedev of Russia, he reflected at length upon his latest history-making achievements.

Over the weekend, Djokovic clinched his seventh ATP year-end No. 1 title, which broke the record of six he shared with his tennis idol Pete Sampras, with his semifinal victory over Hubert Hurkacz. Then, his title match triumph against Medvedev, which he won 4-6, 6-3, 6-3, garnered for him his sixth Rolex Paris Masters crown. It was also his 37th ATP Masters 1000 title, which broke the tie of 36 he shared with Rafael Nadal.

Indeed, it was some week for the 34-year-old Djokovic on the tennis court in Bercy, in the 12th arrondissement, where he achieved a Paris Double by winning both the French Open and the Rolex Paris Masters in the same year. Now, he’ll have a short period to rest and recover before it will be time to compete in the Nitto ATP Finals in Turin, Italy, where he will be the No. 1 seed with a chance to equal Roger Federer‘s record of six ATP Finals titles.

“I consider myself a student of the sport, and I really respect and admire all of the past champions that paved the way for me and, you know, all the generations that are playing tennis right now,” Djokovic said during his final Bercy post-match press conference. “We are enjoying the benefits of this game in every sense because of the past champions that made the tour the way it is today.

“I’m very grateful for that. Of course, when I surpass of the past champions, particularly someone that I looked up to when I was a kid like Pete Sampras, it means the world to me. It’s kind of a surreal feeling.”

Djokovic expressed difficulty in being able to properly reflect on his achievements because the tennis season is the longest in worldwide professional sports. “It just requires you to right way take the next step, turn the next page, see what’s the next challenge, what’s the next tournament, how can I recover, rejuvenate, and then prepare for what’s coming up, the next challenge,” he said.

“I can’t really fully devote myself to thinking about the historic achievements, but of course, it means the world to me to be in this position because that’s obviously one of the biggest motivations of why I still play professional tennis.”

Looking back, although Djokovic was unable to complete a calendar-year Grand Slam after he lost the US Open title in a straight-set defeat to Medvedev in September, he said he’s already closed that chapter and moved on. When they faced each other in the Rolex Paris Masters final Sunday, there was no animosity between the two. That was evident by the warm, friendly embrace they shared at the net after Djokovic secured match point with a blistering forehand winner that came at the conclusion of two-and-a-quarter hours of relentless battle.

“To be honest, I’m not regretting it, really. I’m not spending days suffering because I didn’t take the calendar slam this year,” Djokovic said.

“I’m very relieved that the Grand Slam season [is] done, because I felt tremendous pressure unlike anything I felt in my life. So, you know, it was an interesting experience, and I’m very satisfied with the way I played in Grand Slams – three wins and a final. I mean, there is much more positive things to be grateful for and to look at than negative.

“I moved on from that and focused on the Masters events, and here in Bercy, I did what I came here to do, which [was] clinch the year-end No. 1 and win the trophy. …

“I’m very proud of it. I’m very satisfied, very happy about it.”

Now, Djokovic is looking forward to what the future holds for him.

“We still have a lot of years to come, and I’ll certainly have the opportunity to win Grand Slams,” he said. “The situation is different. I’m not young anymore, as Medvedev (who is 25) and the Next Gen is. But I feel good. I’m motivated and I want to make progress again.”

While it seems that Djokovic’s box of records is bursting at the seams – although attaining a 21st Grand Slam, which would break the tie he shares at 20 with Federer and Nadal, remains unfulfilled – does he want to break every single record?

“Throughout my career, I have always been honest enough to say that the history of our sport is too big a motivation,” Djokovic admitted. “It is an objective, yes, to prove that I can break all of the records with all the results that I can obtain on the tour professionally.

“So, yes, I love breaking records. I’m very motivated to carry on. My priority is the Grand Slams and Masters 1000s, where you can gain the largest number of points. This is an added benefit of our sport.”