Exceptional season for Novak Djokovic among best ever
If you are a Novak Djokovic fan, you could be forgiven for hoping 2015 never comes to an end.
It has been an incredible season for the Serb with few parallels, if any, in men’s tennis.
Jimmy Connors’s 1974, when he lost only four of his 97 matches for a winning percentage of 95.88 could also find a mention in the same breath.
The American appeared in 17 finals that year, winning 15, and was unbeaten at the grand slams, but he missed the French Open.
Djokovic has reached the final at all four majors this year and is only the third man in the Open era to achieve that distinction, after Roger Federer (2006, 2007 and 2009) and Rod Laver (1969).
In 1984, John McEnroe had an amazing year, losing only three of his 85 matches, and his winning percentage of 96.47 is still an ATP Open-era record.
But McEnroe won only two grand slam titles that year: Wimbledon and the US Open. He skipped the Australian Open and lost to Ivan Lendl in the French Open final.
Federer was fantastic in 2005, with a 81-4 record for a winning percentage of 95.29; in 2006 it was 92-5 for a winning percentage of 94.85. The 2015 Djokovic, with a winning percentage of 93.98 (78-5), trails on that front.
But the Swiss, at his peak, could not win more than four Masters titles in a calendar year.
Djokovic, this year, has become the first man to win six Masters titles in a season, improving on his 2011 tally of five.
He is also the first man to reach 14 consecutive finals in a year, with Doha, in the first week of the season, being the only tournament on his 2015 schedule where he has failed to reach the final. He lost to Ivo Karlovic in the quarter-finals in Qatar.
The Serb’s 27 wins against top-10 players this season, against only four losses, is also a new Tour record; he is 16-4 against the rest of the top five: 4-2 v Federer, 6-1 v Andy Murray, 3-0 v Rafael Nadal and 3-1 v Stan Wawrinka.
Djokovic has also set a new record for prize money in a season, banking US$16,706,125 (Dh61.3m) so far in 2015 and will no doubt add to his winnings at the World Tour Finals. The previous record was Nadal’s $14.5 million in 2013.
Last year at Roland Garros, as Djokovic suffered his fifth defeat in six grand slam finals, many wondered if he could ever match the heights he had reached in 2011.
Now, after his memorable 2015, the question is can he raise his game even further next year?
It will be tough, but, yes, he can, for, as Djokovic said after his Paris Masters win on Sunday, “Nobody can be perfect, but, if you are going for perfection, you might reach excellence.”
That attitude alone sets him apart. Djokovic might not have the fans and flourish of a Federer or Nadal, but he is, with due apologies to Brett “The Hitman” Hart and his wrestling fans, “The Excellence of Execution”.
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Updated: November 9, 2015 04:00 AM