Exclusive: Novak Djokovic says ATP Finals win is ‘even bigger’ given how ‘badly’ year began

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In an exclusive interview with Eurosport, Novak Djokovic has admitted that clinching the Nitto ATP Tour Finals trophy felt “even bigger” after what has been a tumultuous year for the 21-time major champion.

Djokovic was at his brilliant best to see off Casper Ruud in straight sets, capturing the title for the sixth time to equal Roger Federer’s record, and it was the perfect way to sign off from a disruptive 12 months.

The Serbian was deported from Australia just before the first Grand Slam of the year started after his visa was cancelled. He also missed the US Open.

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However, he won Wimbledon for a seventh time a month after losing in the quarter-finals of the French Open to Rafael Nadal.

“Of course, very satisfying and pleasing considering the journey this year that started really badly in Australia with all the things happening,” Djokovic told Eurosport.

“So this victory is even bigger as I said, considering the circumstances that my team, my family and I have been through, but I felt I was not alone. I felt big support from my people, from Serbia, from the region.

“It was just a matter of time before I would find that balance and optimal strength in my game in order to really peak and start playing the best tennis I possibly can.

“Midway through the season that started to happen and I won Wimbledon and after Wimbledon I think I lost one match only.”

“It’s been an amazing finish, I couldn’t ask for a better scenario,” he continued.

“I’m still greatly motivated and inspired to play tennis at this level and I’m so happy I’ll be able to go back to Australia and play at my most successful Grand Slam. We’ll take it from there.”

Meanwhile, speaking following the trophy presentation on court, Djokovic told the audience in Turin that ending the year with silverware was “huge”. It was the first time he has won the season-ending event since 2015.

“I’ve probably talked about this season and how unusual it is 1,000 times prior to this interview,” Djokovic said.

“I’m not going to repeat what most people who follow tennis know. Yeah, just big relief and satisfaction. I look forward to having a couple weeks off. I’m really glad that I managed to end it in a positive way.”

Turning to his family present, he said: “I would like to thank my family and my team for being here with me, not just today but throughout the entire journey of my career. I want to thank all of you guys for going through some tough times, particularly this year with me, believing in me, staying patient.

“Giving me the necessary strength and support, a shoulder to lean on, a shoulder to cry on. It’s been a rollercoaster year, something I’ve never experienced before in my life. And only we know what we’ve been through.

“I want you to know that I really appreciate you. This trophy is equally yours as it’s mine.”

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