BARCLAYS ATP WORLD TOUR FINALS 2012
Djokovic: "This Was My Time, My Moment"
by Matt Fitzgerald|
In sport, athletes reach the top of the world on their respective field of play every year. They soak up the glory of being the best while they can, knowing their competition, the media and fans are already looking ahead to what the next season will bring. Athletes are often not defined by how they become No. 1, but rather how they handle the pressure of wearing the tag. Will they be able to match or raise the bar they set, or will they be victimised by a sophomore slump?
Novak Djokovic proved in 2012 that he was more than up for the challenge. Playing in one of the most competitive eras in tennis, and needing to defend a memorable season that saw him lift three Grand Slam trophies and five ATP World Tour Masters 1000 crowns, the Serbian delivered consistent rock-solid performances to once again finish as the year-end No. 1 in the South African Airways ATP Rankings. In a year that started with a bang in Melbourne, it culminated in London with a statement asserting he is here to stay.
“It's been a very long year, a very long two years, but a very successful two years,” says Djokovic. “I didn't really know how I will follow up after incredible 2011, but I believed that I have to use the time where I'm playing the best tennis of my life and I'm winning Grand Slams and finally realise what I need to do to win the major tournaments.”
Djokovic edged Roger Federer 7-6(6), 7-5 in Monday’s Barclays ATP World Tour Finals title match to finish the tournament with a perfect 5-0 record, defeating rivals Federer, Andy Murray, Tomas Berdych, Juan Martin del Potro and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. The victory over Federer enabled Djokovic to become the ATP World Tour’s match win leader for the year with 75 victories, breaking a tie with David Ferrer.
“This was my time, my moment, and I needed to step in and really believe in my ability. So throughout the whole season I've had lots of success and had some disappointing losses at big events, in a couple major finals,” reflects Djokovic.
“All in all, it was a fantastic year, where I've had to face a lot of difficulties off the court as well. Especially coming into this tournament, having my father fighting his own fight for health gave me extra strength that I wanted to play for him in a way. That's one of the reasons I really gave it all every match, especially tonight. This was a title for him.”
While he didn’t match his 2011 trophy haul this season, Djokovic was incredibly steady. Out of the 17 tournaments he contested, he triumphed six times, finished runner-up on five occasions and was a semi-finalist four times. Among his highlights included a fifth Grand Slam title at the Australian Open, three ATP World Tour Masters 1000 titles, a first appearance in the Roland Garros final, carrying the flag for Serbia at the London 2012 Olympics, regaining World No. 1 after being overtaken by Federer in July, and the perfect finish to the season at The O2.
“Before this tournament started, we got the trophy for year‑end No. 1. Then we confirmed it with this World Tour Finals title,” Djokovic says.
“It means a lot for my team and me that we've been working very hard and we knew how much commitment and dedication is required in order to achieve such great success. We have always great hopes and great goals for the upcoming seasons, and this is definitely going to be a strong wind in my back. This season it's going to help me to get better on the court to try to win as many big tournaments as possible.”
Before preparing for his 2013 campaign, Djokovic plans to dedicate a period of time to unwind. The 25 year old, who was accompanied in London by girlfriend Jelena Ristic and their dog Pierre, is looking forward to a getaway in paradise.
“[Pierre] is going to get an extra bone tonight, for sure. He got a lot of presents actually that we've been enjoying these last couple of days,” says Djokovic. “But he needs time off, as well, so we're going back home. We're looking forward to that. He's been warming me up before every match, so it was really funny.
“But considering my holidays, I have a busy week now. The next six or seven days, I have a couple exhibition events [and] then two and a half weeks completely off in a very tropical, very beautiful place with no racquet, no tennis. [I’ll] just try to recharge my batteries.”