Novak Djokovic survived a very close first set against Serbian compatriot Filip Krajinovic before moving through to the quarter-finals of the Italian Open in Rome.

Serbian tennis star Novak Djokovic says the ATP Finals in 2008 was the moment he started to believe he was a top player.

When it comes to the men’s game, only Roger Federer has spent more weeks at the top of the world rankings than Djokovic. Also, only the Swiss tennis star and the Spaniard World No. 2 Rafael Nadal have won more Grand Slam titles than the Serbian.

But, Djokovic, who is currently the highest-ranked tennis player, recalls that it was at his ATP Finals success twelve years ago that he acquired the confidence to go on and achieve all he has.

“Next to the Slams, the [ATP] Finals is probably the biggest event that we have in our sport,” the 33-year old.

“It’s probably the ultimate challenge in a season, facing the Top 8 guys of the year. I have been fortunate to experience the Finals quite a few times in the last 10-15 years.

“Back in 2008 was my first win in Shanghai. That was the last year the World Tour Finals was held there and that was very special, obviously.

“That skyrocketed my confidence and allowed me to believe that I belong at the top of the men’s game with all these guys.”

And the Serb has never looked back ever since. He has gone on to win 17 Grand Slam men’s singles titles, a haul which is the third-most ever behind only Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.

Djokovic is the only player to complete the career Golden Masters. This meant that he won all nine modern ATP Masters 1000 tournaments, a feat he has accomplished twice. In all, he has won 81 ATP singles titles, including a record eight Australian Open titles and a record 36 Masters events.

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