Novak Djokovic makes telling admission hours before ATP Finals survival

Novak Djokovic made it clear that he’s thinking about the Davis Cup just hours before learning that he was still alive at the ATP Finals. After dropping a set to Hubert Hurkacz on Thursday, the world No 1’s survival hinged on Jannik Sinner beating Holger Rune – which he later did. For months, Djokovic has admitted that winning the Davis Cup is his main goal for the end of the season and he was ready to turn his attention to the team contest had he been eliminated, taking a relaxed approach to the possibility of going out in Turin.

As Djokovic’s 2023 season nears its end, there isn’t much that the 36-year-old hasn’t achieved. He won three of the four Grand Slams to become the first man in the Open Era to hold 24 Majors and secured his 40th Masters 1000 title in Paris-Bercy earlier this month. The Serb then had two goals left to tick off – secure the year-end No 1 ranking and win the Davis Cup for his nation.

Coming into the ATP Finals, Djokovic needed one round-robin win to ensure he ended the season atop the rankings and he did that on day one, downing Rune in three sets and collecting his year-end No 1 trophy the following day. After staying alive in Turin, Djokovic will now try and win the title but he made a telling comment on Thursday when he brought up the Davis Cup again.

Following his three-set victory over Hurkacz, which meant that it was up to Sinner to win and keep him in the tournament, Djokovic said: “If he wins, I’ll qualify. If he doesn’t, I’ll still finish the season with a win and look to Davis Cup.” His ability to focus on the next challenge in the face of elimination shows his champion mentality but it comes as no surprise that he is ready to focus on the World Cup of men’s tennis, as Serbia’s quarter-final tie against Britain is now just six days away.

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Going out of the ATP Finals would have given the 97-time title winner a whole week to rest before the tie, in which he is likely to play both the No 1 singles rubber and the doubles. Instead, he will now advance out of the group stage in second place to play in Saturday’s semi-final against the top player of the opposing Red Group.

It means that Djokovic won’t be as fresh as Britain’s three singles players – Cameron Norrie, Andy Murray and Jack Draper – who could be his potential opponents at the Davis Cup in Malaga. The world No 1 has made it no secret that he wants to win the tournament, recently telling Sportal: “The biggest desire from the end of the season is to win the Davis Cup.”

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However, Djokovic will still be laser-focused on picking up a record-extending seventh ATP Finals crown now that he has the opportunity. Ahead of the tournament, the 36-year-old had confessed that the year-end No 1 ranking was his first priority in Turin but – if he achieved it – he would then look to lifting the trophy.

“For me, the biggest goal right now is to end the season as the No 1 player in the world, so hopefully I can clinch it,” Djokovic told ATP Media. “I need one win, so hopefully that happens. And then of course, I would love to win the tournament as well. But that’s the goal and then let’s see what happens afterwards.”

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