Novak Djokovic beat Norway’s Casper Ruud 7-5, 6-3 to claim his sixth ATP Finals title on Sunday.
Djokovic ended up earning the biggest payday in tennis ever—$4,740,300—for finishing undefeated at the season-ending tournament.
Djokovic cruised to victory with his ninth ace to lift the crown for the first time since 2015 in front of a rapturous crowd.
“I have to be focused throughout the match, every point, the momentum can change very quickly to the other side,” the Serbian said in a televised interview after the match.
“Waiting for seven years makes this victory even sweeter,” added Roger Federer as he joined the season-ending event with six titles.
The 23-year-old Ruud enjoyed the best tennis of his career in 2022 and went head-to-head with the 21-time major winner.
But Djokovic made two awkward errors to give him a break at the end of the first set.
Djokovic put his foot on the accelerator from there, using his powerful forehand to break Ruud in the fourth game of the second set.
The Norwegian threw everything he had at the veteran in a penultimate 36-shot rally, but the Wimbledon champion was too sharp.
In the marathon exchange, he held his opponent with his arms wide open after winning the title.
The 35-year-old Djokovic is the oldest player to win the title and said the tournament has left him unscathed after a grueling three-set thriller en route to the semi-finals against Russia’s Daniil Medvedev.
“It wasn’t easy to recover and be able to play well in the finals less than 24 hours after that match,” he told reporters.
“It’s an internal battle with myself, because there’s a voice that always tells you ‘you can’t do it, you’re too tired, this and that’, right? The bad and the good. You try to nurture a good boy.’
Djokovic has finished the season on a high after a year of ups and downs.
He was unable to defend his title at the Australian Open in January as he was kicked out of the country for refusing to take the COVID-19 vaccine.
His attitude banned him from competing in the US again this year, even in the last major of the season – the US Open.
“I’m hoping to have a couple of weeks off because I’ve been doing really well all year, waiting for permits to go to tournaments or somewhere.
“So I’m very happy that I managed to finish on a positive note,” said Djokovic, who collected his seventh Wimbledon title in July.
The defeat brought a disappointing end to Ruud’s breakout year.
The Norwegian also reached the finals at Roland Garros and Flushing Meadows, but finished second.