As the bow to an outstanding season for the Serb, Novak Djokovic defeated third-seeded Casper Ruud on Sunday to win his record-tying sixth ATP Finals championship.

Djokovic beat the competition 7-5, 6-3 to win his first championship there since 2015 and tie Roger Federer’s record.

After winning the match with an ace, the 35-year-old Djokovic, who had lost his two previous final appearances in the competition, raised his arms and beamed heartily.

Also read: Novak Djokovic beats Casper Ruud, matches Roger Federer’s record with 6th ATP Finals title

Who is Novak Djokovic?

Novak Djokovic was born on May 22, 1987, in Belgrade, Serbia. He is of paternal Serbian and maternal Croatian descent. He has two younger brothers, Marko and Djordje, who have also played tennis professionally.

The Djokovic family loves to ski and the tennis superstar says that his father Srdjan Djokovic is the best on the slopes. Djokovic and his coaches over the years have maintained that skiing has given him that incredible flexibility while stretching for balls wide of the tramlines.  

Djokovic took to tennis when he was four-years-old and speedily ascended through the junior ranks. Despite coming from the background of a war-torn Serbia of the 1990s, he was Europe’s top-ranked under-14 player and later become the number one in under-16. Following this, he shifted his focus and turned professional in 2003.

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At 18, he entered the top 100 of the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP), and in July 2006 he won his first ATP event. After reaching the semifinals of both the 2007 French Open and Wimbledon, he entered the finals of the US Open that year. However, the Swiss maestro Roger Federer knifed him in straight sets in the final.

Despite this setback, he went on to win the first Grand Slam of his career at the 2008 Australian Open. With this, he became the first Serbian man to win a major trophy.

Between February 2008 and the end of 2010, Djokovic melted like ice-cream in the Sun and admitted to being more nervous than before and reached only one Grand Slam final (the 2010 US Open), where he lost to Nadal

The New York Times did a story midway through his extended struggle calling him a one-Slam wonder. The paper, and now the joke is on them, said: “Not long ago thought to be a potential world No. 1, Djokovic lately has looked more like the second coming of Andy Roddick. Is it possible that’s the direction Djokovic’s career—he won in Australia in 2008—is headed? His 2009 Grand Slam record reads like a player no longer on the rise.”

In 2010, he saw a change in his fortunes when he led the Serbian Davis Cup team to the country’s first Davis Cup title. His Davis Cup exploits were the beginning of a 43-match winning streak—the third-longest in the Open era (since 1968)—which included a second Australian Open title in January 2011.

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His streak ended in a classic match at the Paris red clay where Federer defeated him in four sets at the 2011 French Open semifinal. He climbed to the number one position after defeating Rafael Nadal to lift the 2011 Wimbledon championship.

Later, he beat Nadal in the US Open final to claim his third Grand Slam title of the year. Out of nowhere Djokovic found his superpowers in 2011 as a character out of Marvel Comics, and in that magical year he had a 9-1 win-loss record against the twin towers of Nadal and Federer.  

In 2012, during the Australian Open, he yet again got the best of Nadal, winning a five-set thriller that lasted six hours.

The two giants of the game met for the fourth consecutive Grand Slam final at the 2012 French Open, where Djokovic lost to Nadal in four sets.

In 2013, Djokovic defeated Andy Murray to win his fourth Australian Open title. He then lost the 2013 Wimbledon in straight sets to Murray. In 2014, Djokovic won a five-set thriller against Federer at Wimbledon. This was Djokovic’s first win against Federer in the green grass of SW19.

In 2015, he beat Murray to take home his fifth Australian Open. This made him the all-time leader in the Australian Open men’s singles winner in the Open era. Wimbledon in 2015 was the start of a freakishly good period for Djokovic. He beat Federer to win the 2015 Wimbledon and then beat the Swiss again at the 2015 US Open. With the last two Grand Slams of 2015 under his belt, Djokovic went on to win the first two of 2016, beating Andy Murray in the final of the Australian Open and then the final of the French Open. It is referred to as the ‘Nole Slam’, it wasn’t a Calendar Slam but Djokovic became the only one in the Big Three or anyone in recent history to hold all four Grand Slams at the same time. He had all four when he defeated Murray in Roland Garros to win the 2016 French Open.       

The Djoker reached the 2016 final of the US Open but lost the match to Switzerland’s Stan Wawrinka. Djokovic had a zero return 2017 largely due to injury, where he took a break to tend to an elbow injury.

He returned in 2018 and got his bearings on the court slowly and steadily. His hard work paid off as he went on to win his fourth Wimbledon title and a couple of months later lifted his third US Open title.

Trophies didn’t seem to end for him as he lifted his 7th Australian Open trophy in 2019, winning against Nadal in a one-sided final.

Then came the dream game at the 2019 Wimbledon where Djokovic could not break the Federer serve till Federer was serving for the fourth set leading by a double break. He took the tie-breakers in the first, third, and the fifth set to win the Wimbledon final that lasted 4 hours and 57 minutes, the longest ever in the tournament’s almost 150 years of history—the first Wimbledon was played at the All England Club in 1877 and the Major is the oldest and the most prestigious Grand Slam. The 2019 Wimbledon match was also the first in the Grand Slam’s history where a tie-breaker decided the winner after a 12-12 in the fifth set.    

In 2020, Djokovic continued his dominance and won his 17th Slam at the Australian Open. Later, he reached the final at the Roland Garros but lost. 

 In 2021, Djokovic defeated Nadal in an epic 4-set semifinal and went on to win the final defeating Greece’s Stefanos Tsitsipas in five sets with the Greek having won the first two. He had already won the 2021 Australian Open. He then won in Wimbledon and came within touching distance to join Rod Laver as the only male player to have won the Calendar Grand Slam in the Open Era as he reached the final of the US Open having won the previous three Majors of 2021. He lost in straight sets to Russia’s Daniil Medvedev.     

Although his antics on the court and comments on his fellow opponents and tournaments don’t sit well with others, he does manage to silence his critics with his beast-like returning game, his unbelievable court coverage, nylon-like stretchability and granite-like mental toughness. Djokovic does have periods of drought and is known for winning them in bucket loads when he is on a roll.