Novak Djokovic’s record-breaking longevity doesn’t surprise anyone any more – least of all him

Djokovic defeated Rune in three sets to confirm his year-end world No 1 ranking

Djokovic’s continued success is a triumph of mentality and physicality and the next record in sight would be to become the oldest world No 1 of all time, a feat set by Roger Federer at the age of 36 years and 10 months. Djokovic will hope to become the first player to sit at the top of the ranking at the age of 37 when he reaches his birthday in May. Certainly, he is confident he will stay there and now lives by the mantra that “age is just a number”.

He believes his body is as strong as it has been for years. “It probably sounds cocky or arrogant, but I’m not really surprised,” Djokovic said on his way to winning his 24th grand slam title at the US Open in September. “I know how much work and dedication and energy I put into trying to be in this position, so I know that I deserve this.”

There will be challenges to come this week – not least against the Italian Sinner and the home fans in Turin on Tuesday night. It will be their first meeting on a hard surface and Sinner has long been touted as having the game to succeed in this particular match-up, though the 22-year-old will need to be far more decisive than he was in his straight-sets defeat to Djokovic in this year’s Wimbledon semi-finals. Tsitsipas, a previous ATP Finals champion, also awaits in Djokovic’s group.

Should the Serbian progress, there could be the latest meeting between himself and Alcaraz, though the Spaniard has lost three times in his previous five matches coming into the ATP Finals and landed in a tough group with Medvedev – who beat him at the US Open semi-finals – and a resurgent Zverev. There are challengers as Djokovic targets another ATP Finals title, but only one favourite. Fittingly, a seventh ATP Finals crown would be a new record, as well.

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