The tennis season is barely four months old and we’ve already seen Novak Djokovic and Serena Williams firmly cement themselves atop the tennis world – again. Though Novak and Serena’s hold on the top might be unsurprising, the first quarter of 2015 has provided us with a handful of bewildering stats and storylines. Here are 13 of our favourites.
- Novak Djokovic is destroying the men’s circuit. This guy has been on fire since the start of 2015. Some empirical evidence: he started by winning a record fifth Australian Open, defeating Andy Murray in a four-set barn burner (more on this, and bagels, below.) He then kept going, becoming the first player to win all three of the season’s opening Masters tournaments. He’s on a 17-match win streak, his current record is 30-2, and he’s on pace to finish with the eighth-best season in ATP history. Anything you can do, he can do better.
Photo: Tony Ashby
- Novak wants all of the points. Currently, Djokovic holds a record 5,460 ATP point lead over world No. 2, Roger Federer. This represents the largest gap ever recorded under the current point system – surpassing Nadal’s previous record of 5,245 points. And he’s not done yet.
- The Golden Bagel Award. This award is given to the professional male tennis player who has handed out the most bagels – a 6-0 set – during the season. Federer currently holds the all-time record with 18 bagels in 2006. Djokovic is on pace to obliterate that record, racking up an astounding 10 bagels during the first third of the season. He can’t help but laugh at how good he really is… (I swear that’s it for Novak.)
- Serena’s absurd winning percentage. Serena Williams is not having a bad year either, WINNING 100% OF HER MATCHES. If she continues this way, she’ll best Martina Navratilova’s record season winning percentage of 98.8%. Serena’s personal best winning percentage over a season is 95.1%, a feat she accomplished in 2013.
- Milos, server extraordinaire. Milos Raonic has 12 more aces than Djokovic, Federer, and Nadal COMBINED. Just to clarify how good these players really are, their collective Grand Slam title count is 39. These aces helped Milos win 82% of his first serve points (ranked second on tour) and 60% of his second serve points (ranked first on tour).
Photo: Ron Turenne / Tennis Canada
- Surprise return king. Because we have witnessed the greatness of Djokovic, Federer, Murray, and Nadal, we are sure that one of them is the best returner in 2015. Right? WRONG. David Ferrer is 2015’s best returner, winning 37% of his return games and 37% of his opponent’s first serve points. His marvelous return game has led to three tournament victories.
- Nestor dethroned. Daniel Nestor was the top-ranked Canadian doubles player for the last 14 years. He is no longer. Vasek Pospisil surpassed his compatriot Nestor on April 6, after he and Jack Sock reached the final in Miami.
Photo: Kyle Clapham / Tennis Canada
- Rafael Nadal, king of clay? Nadal has a combined 66-1 record at the French Open. He has won the tournament nine times out of 10 tries. In previous years, his seeding reflected his dominance – he had never been ranked outside the Top 4. Alas, all good things must come to an end, as he is in danger of being ranked outside the Top 4 seeds at the French Open for the first time IN HIS CAREER. This means he could face top players, like world No. 1 Novak Djokovic, before the semifinal round.
- Been around the block – still crushing it. The oldest players on tour are Ivo Karlovic, 36, and Kimiko Date-Krumm, 44. Karlovic towers over the field at 6’11’’ and still has the highest first serve winning percentage on tour. Date-Krumm retired in 1996 and made a comeback 12 years later, and is still performing at a high level.
- Short but sweet. The shortest pro tennis match of the season came at the Apia International in Sydney. Karolina Pliskova def. Nicole Gibbs in just 38 minutes. It takes me longer to get out of bed in the morning.
- Marathon men. The longest pro tennis match of the season came in the first round of Davis Cup, when Mayer def. Souza in a whopping six hours and 43 minutes – the third-longest match of all time. Needless to say, Mayer was a teensy bit happy after winning.
- Big 4… Or just Big 3? Murray has had a lot of trouble competing with Djokovic, Federer, and Nadal in recent years, which has continued into 2015. He is 0-3 vs. Djokovic just this year. Since winning the Wimbledon final in 2013, Murray has gone a combined 0-12 vs. these three players. To get back into the Big 4 conversation, something’s got to change.
- Straight dominance. Federer, Nadal, and Djokovic began the 2015 season ranked as the Top 3 players in the world. They have done this SIX TIMES in total, which is the best among all-time legendary trios.