Novak Djokovic says he always sees himself as being the best tennis player in the world after responding to the furore around his season-ending ranking for 2022.
Djokovic finished the year ranked No.5 in the world behind Spanish teen sensation and World No.1 Carlos Alcaraz, despite the Serb clinching a record-equalling sixth ATP Finals title in Turin.
'WHAT A MOMENT': Novak Djokovic act sends tennis fans into frenzy
The Serb defeated Casper Ruud in straight sets to claim his sixth season-ending title with a 7-5 6-3 triumph over 93 minutes in Italy.
Victory in Turin was Djokovic's first in the ATP Finals since 2015, which saw the Serb equal the great Roger Federer's record of six titles.
Djokovic's five wins en route to the title in Turin meant he picked up 1500 points to finish the season ranked World No.5, despite many experts agreeing that he's the best player on the planet.
Alcaraz last week became the youngest player in men's tennis history to end the season ranked No.1, beating the previous record held by Aussie great, Lleyton Hewitt.
Spain's 19-year-old phenomenom started the year at 32 in the world and made the biggest rise to finish top in 50 years of the rankings. He was unable to play in Turin due to an abdominal injury.
Nevertheless, he became the first player outside of the Big Four of Djokovic, Federer, Andy Murray and Rafael Nadal to top the final rankings since Andy Roddick in 2003.
However, many argue that Djokovic is the true No.1 in men's tennis, owing to the fact he was barred from playing two grand slams (Australian Open and US Open) because of his unvaccinated status, and also denied rankings points from his Wimbledon triumph.
Djokovic was permitted to play at Wimbledon where he won a 21st career grand slam title, however, the All England Club stripped the tournament of rankings points in response to the ban on Russian and Belarusian players due to the war in Ukraine.
It meant Djokovic was denied the 2,000 rankings points he would have collected for winning Wimbledon in July, which ultimately dented his chances of ending the season as the men's No.1-ranked player.
So Djokovic will end the year only 2,000 points behind #1 Alcaraz. He didn’t need the two slams or four masters he missed due to garbage governments.
He just needed to be given points for his victory at Wimbledon to end the year as #1. Sporting robbery of the year.
— Yousef (@ymanna3) November 20, 2022
Novak Djokovic wins record-tying sixth ATP Finals title: defeating Casper Ruud 7-5 6-3
Tied with Federer for the all-time lead and will finish his strangest season at No. 5 in the rankings: 2000 points behind No. 1 Alcaraz
Missed two majors & got no points for winning Wimbledon pic.twitter.com/1Sz2N5afdx
— Christopher Clarey 🇺🇸 🇫🇷 🇪🇸 (@christophclarey) November 20, 2022
If Djokovic had the Wimbledon points and played one more tournament of the above he would easily be the year-end No.1
Biggest threat for Alcaraz No.1 spot at the begging of the year- let’s see
— GJerry_Official (@Gerry77678504) November 20, 2022
Alcaraz is very undeserved No 1. He would never ever be in the spot if the establishment had not banned the best player alive and undisputed Tennis No 1 @DjokerNole from min 8.000 pts worth tournaments and even gifted him 0 points for two consecutive Wimby titles. https://t.co/DJd2eW7eYd
— Cicke 🇷🇸 🇷🇺 🇺🇸☮🇧🇷🇮🇳🇨🇳🇿🇦 (@Cicke69) November 16, 2022
Djokovic deserve the number 1, but wimbledon...
— Litneo 💕Agotonto 💕 (@litneopg) November 20, 2022
Speaking after his triumph at the ATP Finals, Djokovic gave a swift response to a question around whether he thought he was the best player in the world, despite what the ATP's official rankings reflect.
“I always see myself as the best player in the world,” said Djokovic. “I have that kind of mentality and that kind of approach.
“Regardless of who is across the net, regardless of what the surface is, regardless of what season it is, what number of the professional season in my career we’re facing. It’s always the same. The ambitions are as high as possible.
“I had an amazing finish to the season with most of the tournaments that I played indoors I won. Indoors has been historically very successful for me.
“Playing in Italy, in a country where I love to play, where I have really special connection with people, makes this trophy and this win even more special.”
Novak Djokovic makes history in ATP Finals triumph
At 35, Djokovic became the oldest champion at the prestigious year-ending tournament and also earned the largest payday in tennis history as he walked away with $4.7 million ($A7.1m) for claiming the ATP Finals trophy undefeated.
"Seven years has been a long time," Djokovic said. "At the same time, the fact that I waited seven years makes this victory even sweeter and even bigger.
"A lot of nerves ... I missed a couple of forehands in the last game when I was serving for it. I had nerves, but I am really grateful to be able to serve the match out. I had a big ace to close out."
It was Ruud's fourth defeat in a major championship match this year after also losing finals at Miami, Roland Garros and the US Open. Ruud has never won a set against Djokovic in four meetings.
"It has been a year of many highs, some really big highs. Of course, some lows," Ruud said. "I look forward to the next season already."
Djokovic started strongly in Turin and had two break points in Ruud's very first service game. The Norwegian managed to recover although he was also forced to save another break point in the eighth game.
Djokovic finally broke Ruud's serve at the fourth time of asking. And it was at a crucial moment, on set point, and the Serbian ecstatically pumped his fist in the air after Ruud sent a backhand long.
The seventh-seeded Djokovic broke again in the fourth game of the second set and there was no way back for Ruud.
"I made him run, made him play. I was looking to be very aggressive and it worked great. I am really pleased with the performance," Djokovic added.
Djokovic has ended the year with an 18-1 record after winning trophies in Tel Aviv and Astana before reaching the Paris Masters final. His five titles this season also include triumphs at Wimbledon and in Rome.
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