TURIN, Italy — Novak Djokovic claimed a record-equalling sixth ATP Finals title by beating third seed Casper Ruud on Sunday to cap a fantastic season finale for the Serb.
Djokovic won 7-5, 6-3 to secure his first title at the event since 2015 and equal Roger Federer’s record.
The 35-year-old Djokovic, who had lost his previous two finals at the event, raised his arms and smiled broadly after sealing the match with an ace.
“Seven years has been a long time,” Djokovic said. “At the same time, the fact that I waited seven years makes this victory even sweeter and even bigger.
“Very nervous… I missed a couple of forehands in the last game when I was serving. I was nervous, but I’m very grateful to be able to get the match out. I had a great ace to close out.”
Djokovic became the oldest champion at the prestigious year-end tournament and also earned the biggest payday in tennis history when he walked away with $4.7 million for claiming the undefeated ATP Finals trophy.
“I made him run, I made him play,” Djokovic said. “I was looking to be very aggressive and it worked very well. I am very pleased with the performance.”
It was Ruud’s fourth loss in a major championship match this year after also losing finals at Miami, Roland Garros and the US Open. Ruud has never won a set against Djokovic in four meetings.
“It’s been a year of many ups and downs, some really big. Of course, some downs,” Ruud said. “I’m already looking forward to next season.”
Djokovic started strongly in Turin and had two break points on Ruud’s first serve. The Norwegian managed to rally, though he too was forced to save another break point in the eighth game.
Djokovic finally broke Ruud’s serve on the fourth question. And it was at a crucial moment, on set point, and the Serb raised his fist in ecstasy after Ruud hit a long backhand.
The seventh seed Djokovic broke again in the fourth game of the second set and there was no going back for Ruud.
Djokovic finished the year with an 18-1 record after winning trophies in Tel Aviv and Astana before reaching the final of the Paris Masters. His five titles this season also include wins at Wimbledon and Rome.