Novak Djokovic has finished the season as the top-ranked men's player for a record-tying sixth time, and he was given the annual ATP World No. 1 trophy on Sunday. Upon receiving it Djokovic said he was extremely proud at having fulfilled one of his biggest career goals, but added a word of commiseration for those affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Djokovic has now tied Pete Sampras' record of ending as World No. 1 in six different years, making this his most historic No. 1 finish so far. The Serb had previously finished as the world's top-ranked player in 2011, 2012, 2014, 2015 and 2018.
But the shadow of the global crisis was very visible as Djokovic accepted the trophy just before the start of the first match of the Nitto ATP Finals, which is being held behind closed doors at London's O2 Arena.
“I’m very happy,” Djokovic told ATPTour.com. “It’s been a strange year for all of us with a six months’ gap for all of us. We restarted the season in August, and I continued where I left off before lockdown and had a terrific run. I’m very pleased with the way things went."
“Obviously I am super proud of it, but I have mixed emotions because of what is going on in the world," he added. "I can’t be ignorant to that, although I have achieved one of the biggest goals in sport. I feel for many people in the world going through hardship and my heart goes out to them.”
Huge thank you to my team for supporting me: Novak Djokovic
Novak Djokovic also gave a shout-out to his team for supporting and trusting him throughout his career. The Serb's team includes long-time coach Marian Vajda as well as former Wimbledon champion Goran Ivanisevic and physio Ulises Badio.
“I have to say a huge thank you to my team for supporting me in the hard time and trusting me. This is the crown for all achievements in the year and it’s unreal that I’ve managed to finish the year at No. 1 for a sixth time," Novak Djokovic said.
The 33-year-old Novak Djokovic will open his campaign for a sixth title at the ATP Finals when he takes on Argentina's Diego Schwartzman. Djokovic has beaten Schwartzman in all of their five previous meetings, and is a huge favorite to come away with the win on Monday.