Novak Djokovic moved into the final of the 2021 Paris Masters with a 3-6, 6-0, 7-6(5) win over Hubert Hurkacz on Saturday. More importantly, though, Djokovic secured the Year-End No. 1 ranking for a record-breaking seventh time in his career.
The Serb has now moved past his idol Pete Sampras, who finished No. 1 on six occasions.
Speaking to the media after beating Hurkacz, the World No. 1 said he was "proud" and "grateful" to have accomplished such a feat.
"It's a huge achievement, obviously. I'm very, very proud of it," Novak Djokovic said. "Grateful to be in this position once again to make the historic seventh time and surpass my childhood hero, Pete Sampras. It's incredible."
Djokovic went on to express his gratitude to his family and his team for their invaluable support throughout his career.
"Obviously overwhelmed with all the beautiful positive emotions," Djokovic added. "This success is obviously shared with my family, my team, all the close people in my life that have been alongside me that still are there supporting me and also enabling me to keep paving the way, you know, keep playing the sport that I love."
"Without their support it would be difficult, so even though it's an individual sport, it's a team effort in the end of the day," he added. "It's a thrilling, obviously, sensation and I'm very proud of it."
Novak Djokovic has broken records left, right and center this season. He began the year by winning the Australian Open, soon after which he broke Roger Federer's record of most weeks spent at World No. 1.
When asked which record he preferred breaking between Federer and Sampras', Djokovic asserted that he did not want to pick between his accomplishments since he valued them all "greatly".
However, the Serb went on to explain that spending most weeks at World No. 1 was the "paramount achievement" in tennis.
"I don't want to pick any," Novak Djokovic said. "You know, I think every record stands for itself. You know, I value all the records and achievements greatly. You know, being historically No. 1 ranked player in the world is probably the paramount achievement of our sport."
Djokovic then went on to point out how the Year-End No. 1 position shows that a player has been exceptionally consistent throughout the year in big events.
"Also, you know, finishing the season as year-end No. 1 requires full commitment throughout the entire year and consistency and playing the best tennis in the biggest events, which accumulate the most points that enable you to be highly ranked," Djokovic added. "So that's what I have done this year. You know, I played my best at Grand Slams and I got most of my points there."
Novak Djokovic played the fewest tournaments amongst the top-ranked players on tour this year. The Paris Masters was Djokovic's 10th event on tour in 2021 (including the ATP Cup).
The 20-time Major champion highlighted that fact and also revealed that he intends to have a light schedule in future seasons as well.
"Where I didn't actually play too many tournaments, if you compare with other guys, you know, I played much less tournaments and just kind of focused on the most important ones," Novak Djokovic explained. "That's going to be the case also in the future. You know, the biggest events are my priority. And, you know, every achievement is special."
Djokovic spent close to two months away from the action after his US Open campaign. The Serb said he wasn't "bored without tennis" but stressed that he had the Paris Masters in mind in order to secure the Year-End top spot.
"I wasn't bored without tennis, so to say, but, you know, I like competing so I was looking forward to come to Paris and the biggest reason coming here was to clinch the year-end No. 1. Now that I managed to do it, it's a huge relief, as well," Djokovic said.
The World No. 1 also pointed out that he still has to focus on securing the title in Paris.
"But, you know, job is not done," Djokovic added. "Obviously reaching the finals of one of the biggest tournaments that we have in our sport on our tour is something that, you know, stands out regardless of the year-end achievement that is completed. So hopefully going to have another great match tomorrow, and then take it from there."
"Hopefully I'll be able to turn the tables around this time"- Novak Djokovic on Paris Masters final against Daniil Medvedev
Novak Djokovic will lock horns with Daniil Medvedev in the final of the Paris Masters on Sunday. This will be their third meeting in 2021. While Djokovic handed Medvedev a beatdown in the Australian Open final, the Russian exacted revenge in emphatic fashion at the US Open.
During his post-match press conference, Novak Djokovic said he hopes to "turn the tables" on the World No. 2 and come out on top in Paris.
"Yeah, I mean, last time we played, he overplayed me," Novak Djokovic said. "You know, I overplayed him in the finals of the Australian Open. It was quite straightforward matches, both of them. Hopefully I'll be able to turn the tables around this time, you know, learning from that experience in New York."
Medvedev blew Alexander Zverev away in his semifinal match on Saturday, thrashing the German 6-2, 6-2 in 80 minutes. Djokovic revealed that he watched parts of the match and remarked that the Russian is back to his best form.
"I saw him play a little bit today against Zverev," Djokovic said. "He's been playing fantastic tennis. He's back at his best, you know, in the most important match, again, against Zverev in semis. He's not missing much and serving big. It seems like he's finding the groove."