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7 reasons why Djokovic owns the best season of all time

Dec 14, 2015
written by: Rob Cianfarani
written by: Rob Cianfarani
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Did we just witness tennis history?

Novak Djokovic has been on a ruthless tear in 2015, dispatching young guns, journeymen, and great champions alike. The 28-year-old Serb’s breathtaking combination of offence and defence overwhelms and eventually erases any opponent.

Last week, we looked at why Roger Federer’s 2006 season was the best of all time. This week, let’s play devil’s advocate and look at seven reasons why Novak Djokovic surpassed the mark set by Federer in 2006.

Tournament quality

Djokovic’s line for 2015: 82-6, three Grand Slams, a record six (!) of nine Masters 1000 titles and a record fourth consecutive World Tour Finals championship. This totals to 10 ENORMOUS titles, which trumps the eight won by Federer in 2006. Novak is on another level. Again, here they are:

Surface

In 2006, Federer did not win a single title on clay, while Nole won both Monte Carlo and Rome. He became only the second man to beat Rafael Nadal at Roland Garros en route to the finals. Djokovic can now claim to be the best player in the world on all surfaces and in all conditions. Indoors, outdoors, hard court, clay, grass – you name it, he’s got it. In 2006, Federer couldn’t make this claim, because of The Bull:

Top 10 opponents

Novak faced the most top 10 players this season than anyone else did in theirs. He is the first world No. 1 to compile 30 wins against the nine players below him – a stunning feat. He compiled an 86.1% win rate against the top 10, four ticks higher than Federer in 2006. Not only did he face tougher competition, he won more often too.

Competition

In the 2006 year-end rankings, there were two Grand Slam champions (other than Federer) in the top 10, Rafa Nadal and Andy Roddick. In 2015, there are four Grand Slam winners in the top 10 besides Djokovic, along with Marin Cilic at rank 13. Even more shocking: in terms of Masters titles, the 2006 top 10 had 23 in total – in 2015, they total 93.

Tournament finals

Nole reached the final of every single tournament he played except the first, losing to Ivo Karlovic in the quarters of Doha. After that, he played against stiff competition and never really took it out of cruise control. Seven of Novak’s 11 titles in 2015 came against the No. 2 or 3 player in the world. In 2006, only two of Federer’s 12 titles came against No. 2 or 3. The difference is real. I mean, this guy was still playing back then…

ATP points

Novak now holds a 7,915-point lead over Andy Murray in the ATP rankings, which is the equivalent of almost four Grand Slams and the largest gap ever. Even if we translated the 2006 point system to today, Roger would fall several hundreds of points behind the Djoker.

Mental toughness

Playing Nole is like playing a backboard – the ball always comes back. He can twist and contort and leap and do the splits and always get the ball back to you. His style of tennis is certainly not as pleasing to watch as Roger’s, but it takes a new level of mental and physical fortitude. It has almost never been seen before in tennis, or in sport as a whole. Case in point: shrugging off this big spill to win his 10th major.

Djokovic himself said it best: “It’s the best year of my life. No question about it. Everything is working great.”

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