The age-old question: Roger Federer or Novak Djokovic?
From beginning to end, Novak dominated this tennis season. He made his peers, most of whom are athletic freaks of nature, look pedestrian as he bulldozed through them. He put together his best season, topping 2011, in which he won three of four Grand Slams. But, does Novak’s 2015 rival Federer’s 2006 season – arguably the greatest of all-time?
This week, let’s look at six reasons why Djokovic fell JUST short of Federer’s best season ever.
The most important question in sport: “How much does he/she win?” If we look at the all-time list, Novak 2015 season ranks behind TWO of Federer’s seasons, 2005 and 2006. In terms of pure match play, the Swiss Maestro comes out on top.
Federer won 12 (!) titles in 2006, one more than Djokovic did in 2015.
This is not as clear cut as it seems, because Novak won seven Masters events (including ATP World Tour Finals) compared to Roger’s five. What is more impressive – total wins or quality wins? That’s for you to decide.
Just in case you forgot, Novak’s 2015 list is pretty damn impressive:
Novak Djokovic at 2015 Slams, Masters, and WTFs:
— Ben Rothenberg (@BenRothenberg) November 22, 2015
Both Federer and Djokovic were 27-1 in Grand Slams during their respective years, winning three tournaments and dropping the French Open final (weirdly, both in four sets). Roger’s loss was at the hands of the greatest clay courter of all-time – Rafael Nadal, while Nole’s loss came to Stan Wawrinka (holy backhand, Batman). Advantage: Fed. Interestingly, Roger only lost 13 sets in 2006 Grand Slams, compared to Novak’s 14 in 2015.
Both players were nearly perfect in reaching tournament finals during their respective seasons, but again Federer gets the slight edge. He made 16 of 17 finals (94.1%), while Novak ONLY made 15 of 16 finals (93.8%).
I know you’re all thinking it – who can actually beat these guys? In 2006, Roger lost to Rafa four times (three times on red clay) and once to a young Andy Murray. Djokovic lost to Federer three times in 2015, but also lost to some lower-level players – aka Ivo Karlovic. The average rank of Roger’s defeats was world No. 5.8, compared to world No. 7.8 for Novak.
Roger finished 2006 on a 29-match winning streak. Djokovic’s longest streak in 2015 was 28 matches, broken by Stanimal in the French Open final. Novak also lost to (a heavily bearded) Roger at the ATP World Tour Finals, breaking a 23-match win streak.
Both seasons’ stats speak for themselves, but the way that Federer crushed/demoralized/embarrassed opponents in his prime was truly something to behold, giving him the slight edge over Novak’s 2015 season.