Novak Djokovic has ended the Association of Tennis Professionals season with a flourish but his year is far from done. Within hours of making a successful defence of his title at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals at the O2 Arena in London by beating Rafael Nadal 6-3, 6-4 on Monday, Djokovic was heading back to Belgrade, where he will lead Serbia’s attempt to win the Davis Cup for the second time in four years.
The world No 2 last tasted defeat when he was beaten by Nadal in the US Open final two months ago. He has since won titles in Beijing, Shanghai, Paris and London and will go into the Davis Cup final against the Czech Republic on the back of a 22-match winning run.
“It’s been a very long season for me and I’m exhausted in every way,” Djokovic said in the wake of his London victory. “But God knows if as a country we are going to have another opportunity, another generation like this, to win a Davis Cup title at home.
“We have very tough opponents – the defending champions – but the Davis Cup is the only team competition in our sport that brings the best possible energy and will-power in me, and I speak for my team-mates, too. I’m going to do my best to recover in the next three days.”
Even when this weekend’s business is done Djokovic will not rest. “As soon as I’ve played the Davis Cup final, I go for a week of exhibition events in South America, first in Chile with Rafa [Nadal], then in Buenos Aires,” Djokovic said. “One of them for sure is with Rafa again. We’ll be seeing each other quite often. I see him more than my mum actually!”
Nadal has also chosen to give himself a busy off-season. The Spaniard is taking part in a charity event on Necker Island with Sir Richard Branson before heading for South America. He will then do some rehabilitation work on the knee injury that kept him out for seven months until his comeback in February this year. The world No 1 then expects to train for less than a fortnight before beginning his new season at another exhibition event in Abu Dhabi immediately after Christmas, followed by the Qatar Open in Doha.
Nadal said: “But I really hope that Abu Dhabi and Doha give me a chance to prepare myself at 100 per cent and be 100 per cent ready for the first Grand Slam of the season.”