Djokovic tar­gets Tour Fi­nals history to cap golden year

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

LON­DON: No­vak Djokovic has history in his sights as the world num­ber one aims to cap the great­est year of his life by win­ning a fourth suc­ces­sive ATP Tour Fi­nals ti­tle. Even by Djokovic’s al­ready sky-high stan­dards, 2015 has been a golden pe­riod for the 10time Grand Slam win­ner, who has ce­mented his po­si­tion as the sport’s pre­em­i­nent force with one of the best sin­gle-sea­sons in the Open era. With 78 wins from his 83 matches over the last 11 months, the 28-year-old Serb has amassed 10 ti­tles in­clud­ing the Aus­tralian and US Opens, Wim­ble­don and a record six Mas­ters tour­na­ments.

The prize money from that haul has swelled Djokovic’s bank bal­ance by $16.7 mil­lion and un­der­lined his right to be re­garded as the world’s best, yet he has shown no signs of slow­ing down in the clos­ing weeks of the cam­paign. Since los­ing to Roger Federer in the Cincin­nati fi­nal in Au­gust, Djokovic has em­barked on a 22match win­ning run that has brought him the US Open, the China Open and Mas­ters ti­tles in Shang­hai and Paris. Now Djokovic ar­rives at Lon­don’s O2 Arena hop­ing to win the pres­ti­gious sea­son-end­ing Tour Fi­nals for a fifth time.

Djokovic, who opens his Tour Fi­nals chal­lenge against Ja­pan’s Kei Nishikori on Sun­day, would be­come the first player to win the event four years in a row if he lifts the tro­phy on Novem­ber 22 and, omi­nously for his ri­vals, he claims he feels in the form of his life. “I feel this sea­son is even bet­ter than 2011. I’m in love with the game. I really don’t find it that dif­fi­cult to go out on the prac­tice courts and pre­pare my­self in the off-sea­son,” Djokovic said. “I al­ways look to set up new goals to try to get as far as pos­si­ble in terms of my abil­i­ties and achieve­ments.”

Mas­sive pri­or­ity

With a fear­some record of 37 suc­ces­sive in­door match wins, in­clud­ing 14 at the Tour Fi­nals, few would bet against Djokovic, even with an early show­down against Federer loom­ing in the group stage. World num­ber three Federer, who starts his 14th straight Tour Fi­nals cam­paign against To­mas Berdych on Sun­day, has a record six Tour Fi­nals ti­tles and has reached the fi­nal four times in the last five years. The 17-time Grand Slam cham­pion, de­feated by Djokovic in the Wim­ble­don and the US Open fi­nals, pulled out of last year’s fi­nal against Djokovic just hours be­fore the sched­uled start due to an in­jury, but he expects to mount an­other strong chal­lenge for the ti­tle.

“I’ve never had is­sues get­ting mo­ti­vated for this event at the end of the sea­son,” Federer said. “It’s a mas­sive pri­or­ity for me and be­cause it’s a pri­or­ity it helps me play bet­ter. “In­doors has helped my game through­out my ca­reer and the idea of play­ing fel­low top 10 play­ers gets me really ex­cited.” The other group in the round-robin tour­na­ment, which fea­tures the world’s top eight play­ers, fea­tures Rafael Nadal, Andy Mur­ray, Stan Wawrinka and David Fer­rer. Most of the in­ter­est in that group will fo­cus on for­mer Wim­ble­don cham­pion Mur­ray, who has made it clear his main pri­or­ity is Great Bri­tain’s at­tempt to win the Davis Cup for the first time since 1936.

Bri­tain face Bel­gium on clay in Ghent less than a week af­ter the Tour Fi­nals and Mur­ray has spent most of this week prac­tic­ing on that sur­face at Queen’s Club. But the world num­ber two, who starts against Spain’s Fer­rer on Mon­day, hopes to make the best of a dif­fi­cult sit­u­a­tion. “It’s been tricky with my prepa­ra­tion be­ing mainly on the clay but it was never go­ing to be per­fect,” Mur­ray said. “But I would have signed up to be in this sit­u­a­tion at the end of the year in com­par­i­son to last year and hope­fully I can play some good ten­nis here and in the Davis Cup.”—AFP

BRUSSELS: Italy’s Stephan El Shaarawy (right) fight for the ball with Bel­gium goal­keeper Si­mon Mig­no­let dur­ing a friendly soc­cer match at the King Bau­douin sta­dium in Brussels on Fri­day, Nov 13, 2015. Bel­gium won 3-1. —AP

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Kuwait

© PressReader. All rights reserved.