The 35-year-old from Serbia: “A pleasure to be back in Italy, I feel at home here”
“I’m coming to Turin for the trophy”. He says it Novak Djokovic speaking in Italian in the interview with SuperTennis on the sidelines of the media day of the Turin ATP Finals. “It is a pleasure to be back in Italy, I feel at home here,” added the 35-year-old Serbian, who was defeated in the semifinals by future winner Alexander Zverev in the first Italian edition of the tournament last year. “The ambitions are always the highest, I have played well in recent months, I hope and believe I can go far.”
Djokovic, qualified for the fifteenth time, is aiming for a sixth success at the ATP Finals. A milestone that would make him the most successful with Roger Federer in the history of the tournament. A goal that became more and more concrete in the second part of a season that the 21-time Grand Slam champion described as “strange and different from the others”. The champion with the most weeks under his belt as number 1 in the world, in fact, was expelled from Australia, he had to miss two Grand Slams and four Masters 1000, all because of his decision not to get vaccinated against Covid-19.
Earlier in the year, he said, “it was difficult to stay calm on the pitch. It was a challenge with what was going on off the pitch.” At the Internazionali in Rome, where he reached the thousand games won in his career and the 38 trophies in the Masters 1000, something began to change. The real turning point came with the triumph at Wimbledon, the fourth in the last four editions of the Championships. “He made me feel more free and in the last few tournaments I played very well. But the past is over, I hope to find my best tennis again this week.”
The success at Wimbledon did not give him Atp points, not awarded due to the exclusion of the Russians and Belarusians, but allowed him to be at the ATP Finals under the clause that reserves a place for a player who has won a Grand Slam in season and finished between ninth and twentieth position in the Race.
Djokovic arrives in the wake of the titles in Tel Aviv and Astana (89th and 90th in career) and the final in Paris-Bercy lost to the Danish enfant terrible Holger Rune, first reserve in Turin. The 21 Slam winner will make his debut on Monday evening at Pala Alpitour in the last singles of the first round of matches against Stefanos Tsitsipas. “I have beaten him in the last two tournaments I have played, in the final in Astana and in the semifinals in Paris. They have been two very tight matches, especially in Paris. I certainly expect it will be a tough match.”
In the meantime, you can enjoy the welcome of the Turin fans who crowded the sunny Piazza San Carlo to snatch an autograph or a photo from the champions who paraded towards the Gallerie d’Italia, the Intesa Sanpaolo museum, which hosted the media day and made the backdrop to the official photo of the ATP Finals 2022. “We will play here for a total of five years, and I think it’s perfect, the arena is wonderful,” said Djokovic. “We were really well received, they treat us in a special way here. It’s great for us, but also for this event, for tennis, a popular sport in Italy and in this city for several years. There is great anticipation for this. event. We know that we have to put in maximum intensity from the beginning. So we all try to be ready as best we can and at the same time enjoy these days before the tournament starts. “