All records are meant to be broken, right?
Novak Djokovic defeated Roger Federer in the US Open final, clinching his 10th Grand Slam and becoming the eighth man to win double digit GS titles. It was his third major of the year and pulled him ever closer to the mark set by Federer – 17. He is showing no signs of slowing down, in fact, he is playing the best tennis of his career – maybe of all-time.
Let’s look at six reasons why Novak will eventually usurp Roger as Grand Slam king.
Novak Djokovic is in the best shape of his, and anybody else’s, life. All pro tennis players are world-class athletes, especially Roger Federer, a 34-year-old world No. 2. It is difficult to stand out when it comes to fitness, but Novak’s dedication to nutrition, yoga, and flexibility have moved him from suspect to untouchable in the fitness department. For example, watch this:
Or this “warm-up”:
Fivethirtyeight.com describes Elo as a ratings system (initially used in chess) that processes tens of thousands of tennis matches in order to rank players against their peers, predecessors, and successors. Beat a player and gain points; get beaten and lose points; and the number of points you gain or lose depend on how both of you were rated going into your match.
Djokovic’s peak, which happened following his SF win at the 2015 French Open, is the highest of all-time – just ahead of Federer’s and Borg’s. His current level of play is unmatched, and if he sustains it, will be the most impressive display of men’s tennis EVER.
Federer played (and dominated) some great players in his prime, i.e. Andre Agassi, a young Nole. Arguably, Novak has had it much more difficult. In the Elo chart above, we can see that Nole has had to compete with Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray in their primes, as well as a resurgent Federer.
There was truly a “Big Four” and Novak has come out on top.
Although Roger is no slouch (check out his new weapon – the SABR), Novak is the best returner of all-time. He can return any serve, at any speed, from any position.
A player’s dominance ratio (DR) is (% of points won on opponents’ serves) / (% of points lost on own serve). DR is a great indicator of winning percentage – high correlation. Over the past three years, Federer and Djokovic stand alone in dominance ratios, at 1.40 and 1.34 respectively (next best is Andy Murray at 1.22). High DR = high win % = lots more slams for Novak. Speaking of dominance:
Djokovic leads the ATP rankings race by more than 5k points. Equivalent of 2 slam wins and 1 final. Unreal. #Novak
— Subhro_Bluefievre (@subhro_neo) September 14, 2015
Roger is the current Grand Slam king for a reason – he has won GS titles at an unprecedented rate for a long time. At Novak’s current rate, it will take him until around age 31 to equal Roger’s record of 17 Grand Slams. Because of Novak’s unparalleled dominance over the field, as well as his potentially longevity, the record is very much in his grasp.
Does he have enough gas left in the tank to win eight more Grand Slams and break Roger’s record? All we know is that he’s definitely thinking about it:
On surpassing Fed’s slam record: “I would not be truthful to you if I would say I’m not thinking about it,” Djokovic said. “Of course I am.” — Yolita (@Yolitatennis) September 15, 2015