‘Flawless’ Novak Djokovic sends Jannik Sinner warning as he reveals added incentive

Ewan West
Novak Djokovic at the 2023 ATP Finals
Novak Djokovic celebrates at the 2023 ATP Finals

Novak Djokovic has warned Jannik Sinner his group stage defeat to the Italian provides him with extra motivation ahead of the pair’s ATP Finals final showdown.

The Serbian also believes his loss against Sinner earlier in the event “serves as a great preparation tool” and asserted that he knows what to expect in the duo’s rematch.

Djokovic crushed world No 2 Carlos Alcaraz 6-3, 6-2 in the semi-finals of the 2023 ATP Finals in Turin on Saturday with a stunning display to reach his ninth final at the year-end championships.

The 36-year-old, who downed Casper Ruud in last year’s ATP Finals title match, is looking to surpass great rival Roger Federer by claiming a record seventh crown.

Sinner overcame world No 3 Daniil Medvedev 6-3, 6-7(4), 6-1 in an impressive semi-final display to continue his sensational run at the event. The world No 4 posted a 3-0 group stage record, which included a brilliant 7-5, 6-7(5), 7-6(2) triumph over Djokovic – his first win against the tennis legend.

Speaking after his hammering of Alcaraz, Djokovic assessed his performance and identified the crucial moment in the match.

“Well, best match of the tournament for me, without a doubt. It came at the right time really. After spending a lot of hours on the court in the first three matches, I didn’t know how I’m gonna feel tonight,” said the Serbian in an on-court interview with the ATP.

“Obviously I wasn’t as sharp in the second and third particularly match in the group, but I think tonight from the very beginning I felt the ball well. I was approaching the match with the right attitude, the right mentality and I knew that from the first point it’s going to be high intensity.

“He had break points right away, 15-40 in the first game. That’s Carlos, he always brings out his best in these kind of matches and starts with a lot of high quality tennis, a lot of intensity. So you’ve gotta match that, kind of weather the storm and I did that.

“Served well in the important moments and think the match shifted or turned around when it was 4-3 when I made a break with new balls. He missed a couple of forehands and backhands actually and gave me the break, and from that moment onwards, I really played flawless tennis.”

The world No 1 also looked ahead to his duel with Sinner in Sunday’s final and the atmosphere he is expecting to face.

“I mean he’s been playing fantastic tennis, arguably his best tennis of his life. On this stage, against top 10 players, we played 7-6 in the third, very close match the other night. Atmosphere was unbelievable, electric obviously,” added the 24-time Grand Slam champion.

“I don’t expect anything less than that, probably even more louder than what we had in the group stage matchup. It’s finals, I’ve been in this situation before many times, I’m really happy with the way I’m feeling, way I’m playing. Hopefully I can deliver my A-game tomorrow.”

In his press conference, Djokovic was asked if his round-robin defeat to Sinner gives him added motivation and incentive heading into the final.

“It does add. I think it also serves as a great preparation tool, I guess, analysing that match that we played few nights ago, understanding what needs to be done better in order to win from my side,” asserted the 36-year-old.

“He has been the best player of the tournament so far. Won four out of four matches and played some great tennis. Obviously riding on the big wave of support of his Italian crowd here. Tomorrow is the finals. He’s going for his first trophy. I’m going for my seventh in the year-end World Tour Finals.

“I’ve been in these situations before. Hopefully experience can help a bit. But I don’t think it’s going to prevail because he’s been playing well, he’s going to have crowd on his side. I know what I expect.

“I think having already a match against him in this kind of atmosphere helps me prepare better. The performance of tonight really gives me good feelings ahead of tomorrow’s final because I played my “best match of the tournament so far.”

READ MORE: Carlos Alcaraz outlines his ambition in huge GOAT statement after Novak Djokovic loss