Novak Djokovic competed for seven years to win a sixth Masters title like Federer. Aged 35, making him the oldest in the Masters, he won this challenge after a clear week where he successively beat Tsitsipas, Rublev, Medvedev, Fritz and Ruud. After some small approximations during a hanging first set (and also a game with three failed replies, a rarity for him), the Serbian got his hands on the final 1:34 against a Norwegian who still hasn’t managed to beat him, and also to take a set in four ties (7-5, 6-3).
Exceptional in service
Novak Djokovic showed some signs of physical discomfort, especially at the start of the game by touching his sinuses or resting his head on his chair. But he was a kind of little passing agony quickly forgotten by his faculties to draw on his resources. And that didn’t stop him from serving brilliantly (9 aces, 0 break points to defend, 85% of points won on the first ball), one of the keys to a very successful game. In a first set marked by the preponderance of servers (19 points won out of 22 on Ruud’s first ball, five points dropped on his effort by Djokovic), it was the Serbian who had the most chances up his sleeve. Going to block the opponent on the backhand side or opening some corners, it was he who got the break points: two on 1-0 (no return, uncrossed forehand by Ruud), one on 4-3 (winning serve kicked by Ruud), and one at 6-5 which became a set point. Djokovic then martyred the Norwegian’s backhand to complete the lap.
He finished the year 5th all around the world
Even if he had gradually become bolder, even if he had won the only big rally with 25 shots, Ruud paid dearly for his poor management of second balls (38% of points won). Made even more confident by winning the first set, Novak Djokovic became unplayable proving to be imperial in the exchange, dictating the game with ferocity, strong both in the forehand and in the backhand, which he sometimes deposited along the line like poison. While Ruud, who was showing signs of helplessness, failed to turn the game upside down and made some big mistakes. Serving for the match at 5-3, the Serbian committed two fouls on easy forehand attacks. But he won the rally of the match (36 shots) to get a match point, finished … with an ace.
Novak Djokovic, who closes the season by winning eighteen of his last nineteen matches, will finish 5th in the world, 2,000 points behind Carlos Alcaraz, at the end of a year in 2022 where he will have played only eleven tournaments (of which five won) with a Wimbledon in zero point. Quite compact.