Novak Djokovic speaks following his US Open defeat against Daniil Medvedev.
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Novak Djokovic has been warned that he must beat Daniil Medvedev and win this week’s ATP Finals in order to be the dominant force during the upcoming 2022 season. The world No 1 was defeated by the Russian in a one-sided US Open final, but got revenge at the recent Paris Masters 1000. The pair have already won their respective groups at the year-end championships and made it to the semi-finals, so could only meet in Sunday’s final.
Djokovic has cemented himself as the best player of 2021, winning three of the four Majors and making the final of the US Open – coming within one match of a record 21st Grand Slam title and the Calendar Slam.
He also secured the year-end No 1 ranking for a record seventh time, and won the most Masters 1000 titles in history (37) at the recent Paris Masters, surpassing the previous record of 36 he shared with Rafael Nadal.
However, he has now been warned that his dominance for 2022 could be under threat if he is unable to win the Nitto ATP Finals on Sunday, especially if he loses to Medvedev in the final.
As world No 1 and 2, Djokovic and Medvedev headed up the two groups at the ATP Finals and were unable to meet in the round-robin stage.
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They have both already booked their places in Saturday’s semi-finals and won their respective groups, so will not be able to face off in the semis – meaning a final showdown is potentially on the cards.
Former world No 4 Greg Rusedski has now stressed the importance of this week for Djokovic ahead of his 2022 season, saying he believes the Serb will have extra motivation to win a sixth ATP Finals title, which would also see him tie Roger Federer’s record, as he won’t want Medvedev taking his throne as the best player on tour.
“I think he wants to win this at least another two times so that he has the record for the most ATP Finals so I think he is highly motivated,” the former British No 1 said, speaking exclusively to Express Sport.
“And also stamp his authority for 2022 because if Daniil wins in their last two matches at the biggest titles – because the US Open was the biggest title before the ATP Finals – so if he wins the US Open Medvedev, and then wins the ATP Finals, we’re talking about a serious threat to Djokovic’s supremacy in 2022.”
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While the 48-year-old believes Djokovic will be feeling the pressure to defeat his Russian rival in a big hard-court final, he has backed the world No 1 to deliver.
He added: “Djokovic says ‘no no no, this isn’t going to happen, I’m going to win back-to-back in Paris and in the ATP Finals’ so a lot to play for there.”
Although the 34-year-old is a five-time champion at the season-ending event, he hasn’t won since 2015, though Rusedski thinks Djokovic’s reduced schedule will help him finally win a sixth title.
“Well I think it’s a combination of your season and what you’re pushing for. For Novak, the best thing is he hasn’t played much tennis this year,” the 1997 US Open finalist explained.
“So he’s really focused on the Majors. He had two months off and then won in Paris.
“And this is something that Federer has, he has six titles here, Novak has five.
“Novak desperately wants six so this is the motivation to finish the season by winning the last two events on the ATP Tour, solidifying the No 1 which he did last week for a seventh end-of-season No 1 which is incredible.”
The ATP Finals can be watched exclusively on Amazon Prime Video in the UK at no extra cost to Prime members from 14 Nov to 21 Nov.
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