Novak Djokovic has warned the rest of the field at the upcoming ATP Finals that he is playing “very, very good tennis” ahead of the final tournament of the season. The world No 8 narrowly missed out on lifting the Paris Masters title as he was defeated by Holger Rune but he is ready to bounce back in Turin where he could face rival Rafael Nadal for the first time in more than five months.
Djokovic was stunned by 19-year-old Rune in the Paris-Bercy final on Sunday as the teenager came from a set down and a break down in the final set to defeat the six-time Paris Masters champion and win the biggest title of his career with a 3-6 6-3 7-5 win. It was his first match loss since the Laver Cup in September, and first at an official traditional knockout tournament since the French Open more than five months ago.
But the world No 8 has not been left dejected by the defeat despite starting the second set with triple break point and taking an early break-lead in the decider, and instead could become even more dangerous at the upcoming ATP Finals as he bids to end the season on a high with another title. “Every tournament is important at this stage of my career. Anywhere I play, I try to win. That’s not a secret,” the Serb stated after his defeat.
And the ATP Finals will be no different, as Djokovic warned the rest of the field that he was feeling fresh and playing great tennis going into the last event of the season, with the likes of Nadal and Daniil Medvedev also qualifying for the year-end tournament. He continued: “That’s kind of my mentality and approach coming into Torino. I feel very good on the court. You know, I think I’m playing very, very good tennis.”
The 90-time title winner was able to drag out the last game of the Paris Masters final for 17 minutes, holding six break points before Rune managed to serve out the biggest victory of his career. And it left Djokovic feeling confident about his chances in Turin after managing to keep his defeat a closely-fought contest.
“Of course I’m disappointed with the loss today, but I was very close. It was just very few points that decided a winner,” he added. “But the level of tennis that I’m playing is high, and I like my chances. You know, of course every match is like finals there. You know, there is no easy matches.
“You’ve got to be fit, fresh. Good thing is that you have a day between every match in the group stage, so you have time to recover between each match, which is good.” This year will mark the second edition of the ATP Finals being staged in Turin after moving away from London’s O2 Arena.
Djokovic has not won the season-ending championships since 2015 but was ready to fight for his sixth title at the ATP Finals after reaching the semi-finals last year, where he lost to Alexander Zverev. He continued: “Let’s see. You know, I played there last year. Played really good tennis. Played semis, tight match against Zverev, who was eventual champion.
“So I know that the conditions are different. The ball is flying more because it’s altitude. It’s quite fast. You’ve got to serve well. I’ll be there some days before to train, and hopefully be at my best.”