As Novak Djokovic marked his 40th Masters 1000 title in Paris over the weekend, Grigor Dimitrov was seen on the indoor courts of Bercy Arena, burying his face in a towel and struggling to keep from crying.
Dimitrov’s feelings were reasonable. He had been performing exceptionally well in his tennis matches, defeating Daniil Medvedev and Stefanos Tsitsipas to make it to his second Masters 1000 final. Despite giving his all, he experienced the same outcome he has faced numerous times: a disheartening loss to Djokovic.
In the past, it was believed that players like Dimitrov, who were unable to defeat the prominent trio, could simply wait for their retirement and then achieve success. However, this has not been the case. It is remarkable how Djokovic continues to fend off younger opponents.
As the ATP Finals in Turin mark the end of yet another season, the main question remains: Will anyone be able to prevent 36-year-old Djokovic from claiming his seventh title? Earlier this year, the answer seemed clear. The impressive win by 20-year-old Spanish player Carlos Alcaraz in the Wimbledon final could have signaled a change in the game as he took over the lead for his own era of dominance.
Djokovic continues to demonstrate his resilience by bouncing back stronger from setbacks. He has achieved a series of impressive victories, including winning the Cincinnati title, his 24th grand slam at the US Open, and another in Paris. With a current 18-match winning streak and an outstanding record of 51-5 (91%) this season, he has secured six titles and is one win away from securing the year-end No 1 ranking.
Since entering the ATP Tour, Djokovic has been tasked with catching up to Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. However, now that he has surpassed them in statistics and achievements, he is able to play with less pressure and explore his own capabilities. He stated, “I am pursuing all opportunities available to me.”
Once Alcaraz has advanced to the last stages and competed against Djokovic, he has proven to be a formidable opponent and the two have already delivered several memorable matches. However, while Djokovic is a seasoned veteran who knows how to sustain his performance, Alcaraz has faced challenges with maintaining a consistent and durable level of play due to his young age and long season.
However, this is a highly competitive group, all striving for a major victory. Jannik Sinner, the fourth-ranked player, has reached his prime in the latter half of the season, claiming his first Masters 1000 title and three other championships, living up to the high expectations that have surrounded him for quite some time.
Holger Rune, the eighth seed, has shown that he relishes the challenge of facing Djokovic even though he has struggled since Wimbledon. Tsitsipas, the 2019 ATP Finals champion, has beaten Djokovic more times (three) than his other two rivals in the group combined, but his progress also stagnated in the second half of the season.
In the second group, Alcaraz will aim to regain his momentum as he makes his ATP Finals debut. He will face a formidable challenge in Medvedev, the third seed and the player who defeated him at Wimbledon this year. Andrey Rublev will strive to end his season on a high note after winning his first Masters 1000 title in Monte Carlo. Meanwhile, Alexander Zverev’s previous success at this event cannot be overlooked. The group’s top performer will likely face Djokovic in the next round.