Djokovic — hoisting and embracing his children, who have been with him all week — was on top of tennis once more.

“In my mind, I always see myself as the best player in the world,” He stated.

He was last week, but this is tennis.

In fairness to the sport, it’s been a weird year. Coronavirus outbreaks. Changing vaccination requirements. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. At the top of the sport, it is not well-timed injuries. And yet, no one, not even the people who run tennis — and there are a lot of them, in seven different ruling organizations — would ever suggest that the sport makes it easy on fans.

While 2022 Although it may have been messy, tennis is a rare sport that encourages messiness. Stefanos Tsitsipas, from Greece, won the most matches of the top players but only one important tournament. He was either a major disappointment or a rising star depending on which prism he or anyone else used to measure the season.

Do you prefer a subjective measurement? Nick Kyrgios is the temperamental and Combative Australian, a master showman and “tennis genius” According to Djokovic’s coach, is the reigning crowd favorite, especially with the younger generation. For singles, he fills stadiums all over the country. and Doubles but hates to travel and Plays a restricted program. In Australia, he is also facing domestic violence charges in connection to a fight he had with his ex-girlfriend in 2013.

“It’s like you have this book and everybody is writing different chapters,” Andrea Gaudenzi, chairman of the ATP, said: and An ex-player “And you can only find those chapters in different bookstores, and you’ve got to figure out the story.”

Professional tennis, as we know it for half a century, is at risk because there is always a chance for disruption. and These forces are always lurking. Saudi Arabia, which made a mess of men’s golf this year, buying players away from the PGA Tour to create LIV Golf, has begun to dip its toe into tennis. Several top young players — including Daniil Medvedev and Andrey Rublev from Russia, Alexander Zverev from Germany, Kyrgios and Dominic Thiem of Austria — will play in an exhibition in Saudi Arabia in December, likely earning hefty fees just to show up. Keep an eye out for 2023.