Novak Djokovic shares huge ATP Finals 'relief' after unprecedented season of vaccine bans

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Novak Djokovic admitted he was “relieved” after ending his season by defeating Casper Ruud 7-5 6-3 to win a sixth ATP Finals crown, equalling Roger Federer’s record. The world No8 experienced a season like no other as he was banned from the Australian Open and US Open after issues with his vaccine status and admitted he was ready for a break after being made to wait “on the needles” all year.

Djokovic capped off his 2022 season by winning the ATP Finals title for a sixth time to tie Federer’s record. It was his first victory at the year-end championships in seven years and the 35-year-old admitted the win was even “sweeter” given how long he had to wait.

And it was made even more impressive following the lows moments he experienced this season, as the Serb was left unable to play the Australian Open, US Open and four Masters 1000s as a result of his unvaccinated status as he was often made to wait until the last minute to learn his fate. Asked whether his hardships had made the title win an even bigger deal, Djokovic said: “Huge.”

After starting the year in a government detention hotel in Melbourne before he was deported on the eve of the Australian Open, the 91-time title winner said he felt relieved to end the year with a win and get some time off. He continued: “I probably talked about this season and how unusual it is 1,000 times so I won’t repeat it when most people who follow tennis know. It’s just a big relief and satisfaction.”

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He added: “Also I look forward to having a couple of weeks off because I was really on the needles all year, whether it was for tournaments or waiting to know if I could go somewhere.” And Djokovic doubled-down on how difficult his season had been during his victory speech as he thanked his team for their support.

“I want to thank all of you for going through some tough times particiularly this year with me, beliving in me, staying patient, giving me the necessary strength and support,” he told his team and family. “A shoulder to lean on, a shoulder to cry on. It’s been a rollercoaster year, something I’ve never experienced ever before in my life.

“Only we know what we’ve been through,” Djokovic admitted. “I want you to know I really appreciate you, this trophy is equally yours as it is mine.”

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Ruud also acknowledged the difficulties Djokovic had faced this year during his runner-up speech as he congratulated the soon-to-be world No 5. “First of all, congratulations to Novak and your team of course as well,” the 23-year-old started.

“I can’t imagine how difficult this year has been for you at times, so hats off to you for what you have overcome and what you have achieved this year, it’s been nothing but remarkable. Really, really impressive so congratulations again for showing you’re still up there, still finishing off this year in a great way.”



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