Novak Djokovic had been racing for seven years to do as well as Federer in winning a sixth Masters title. At 35, which makes him the oldest of the Masters, he won this challenge after a clear week where he successively beat Tsitsipas, Rublev, Medvedev, Fritz and Ruud. After a few small approximations during a hung first set (and even a game with three failed returns, a rarity for him), the Serb got his hands on the 1:34 final against a Norwegian who still hasn’t arrived to beat him, and even to take a set in four confrontations (7-5, 6-3).
Outstanding in service
Novak Djokovic gave some signs of physical discomfort, especially at the start of the match by touching his sinuses or taking his head on his chair. But it was a kind of small passing agony quickly forgotten by his faculties to draw on his resources. And that did not prevent him from serving remarkably (9 aces, 0 break point to defend, 85% of points won on his first ball), one of the keys to a very successful match. In a first set marked by the preponderance of the servers (19 points won out of 22 on the first ball by Ruud, five points lost on his commitment by Djokovic), it was the Serb who got the most chances throughout of the sleeve. By going to block his opponent on the backhand side or by opening up a few angles, it was he who managed to get the break points: two at 1-0 (missed return, uncrossed forehand from Ruud), one at 4-3 ( winning service kicked from Ruud), and one at 6-5 which became a set point. Djokovic then martyred the backhand of the Norwegian to complete the round.
He finished the year 5th worldwide
Even if he had gradually grown bolder, even if it was he who had won the only big rally with 25 shots, Ruud paid a high price for his mismanagement on his second balls (38% of points won). Made even more confident by winning the first set, Novak Djokovic became unplayable by showing himself to be imperial in the exchange, to dictate the game with ferocity, as strong in the forehand as in the backhand, which he sometimes deposited along the line like a poison. While Ruud, who was showing signs of helplessness, was unable to toughen up the game and made a few big mistakes. By serving for the match at 5-3, the Serb committed two faults on easy forehand attacks. But he won THE rally of the match (36 shots) to get a match point, concluded … with an ace.
Novak Djokovic, who ends the season by winning eighteen of his last nineteen matches, will finish 5th in the world, 2,000 points behind Carlos Alcaraz, at the end of a year 2022 where he will have played only eleven tournaments (including five won) with a zero-point Wimbledon. Rather compact.