Novak Djokovic – World Tour Finals contenders
Originally published on: 17/11/10 11:35
Age: 23 (May 22 1987)
Birthplace: Belgrade, Serbia
ATP ranking: 3rd
Season best: Winner – Beijing, Dubai Runner – Basel, US Open
Season win-loss record: 57-16
Prize money (2010): $3,418,857
Record vs. top eight: Rafael Nadal 7-15; Roger Federer 6-12; Andy Murray 4-3; Robin Soderling 5-1; Tomas Berdych 3-1; David Ferrer 5-4; Andy Roddick 2-5
2010 Grand Slam record: Australian Open QF; Roland Garros QF; Wimbledon SF; US Open RU
Barclays ATP World Tour Finals best: Making third appearance; winner in 2008
Season review: Another mixed bag of a season for Djokovic in 2010, who didn’t kick on as he would have liked until the latter part of the year, when he reached his third career Grand Slam final and help Serbia to the Davis Cup final.
Handed a kind draw at the Australian Open, the Serb defeated Daniel Gimeno-Traver, Marco Chiudinelli, Denis Istomin and then Lukasz Kubot in the last 16. In the quarter-finals, he faced a repeat of the 2008 final, when he triumphed over Jo-Wilfried Tsonga to win his maiden Grand Slam. This time out, the Frenchman prevailed, avenging his final loss by coming from two sets to one down to beat Djokovic.
Solid results followed as Djokovic reached the semis in Rotterdam before winning his first title of the year in Dubai, defeating Mikhail Youzhny in a tight final.
After coming back from Davis Cup duty, winning both of his rubbers to take Serbia into the quarter-finals, two poor results then followed. First, he lost to Ivan Ljubicic in the fourth round in Indian Wells and then fell in his opening match against the diminutive Olivier Rochus in Miami.
He rediscovered his consistency on clay, but managed nothing as special as his form in the run up to Roland Garros in 2009. Djokovic reached the quarter-finals in Rome and Belgrade before struggling through to the last eight at the French Open, where he surprisingly let slip a two set lead to fall to Jurgen Melzer.
With this shock, coupled with a surprise defeat to Xavier Malisse at Queen’s, many were unsure how to rate Djokovic’s chances for Wimbledon. And rightly so, the Serb made hard work of 29-year-old Rochus in the first round, going the distance before finally finishing the match in Wimbledon’s latest ever finish at 10:58pm. From that moment on, Djokovic began to gather momentum, especially after his four set victory over Lleyton Hewitt in the quarters. Unlike Andy Roddick, the Serb did not suffer the same fate against Yen-Hsun Lu, comfortably defeating the Thai in straight sets to progress to the last four, where he underperformed in defeat to Tomas Berdych.
His run at the All England Club looked to be a springboard for the rest of the season. Once again producing the goods with the Serbian Davis Cup team, Djokovic came up with impressive displays in Toronto, reaching the semis, and then losing to Roddick in the quarters of Cincinnati in the lead up to Flushing Meadows.
The first round nearly caught him cold again, this time he saw off compatriot Viktor Troicki in five sets. In a tough draw, Djokovic then went on to produce accomplished performances, dispatching the likes of James Blake and Gael Monfils to progress to the last four. What followed was possibly one of the greatest performances of his career as he took down Federer in five thrilling sets, where he also saved two match points. Nadal lay in wait in the final, and even though he had an extra day to recover due to the weather, the Serb didn’t seem to gain any advantage in having slightly fresher legs. Djokovic tried his best to challenge Nadal, especially in the early stages, but the world No.1 proved too strong to secure his ninth Grand Slam.
Pretty much straight off the back of the defeat, Djokovic went back to his home country to help the team see off Czech Republic 3-2 and reach the Davis Cup final in December. And further success came his way on the ATP Tour as he claimed his 17th career title in Beijing. He could have added two more titles to the tally soon after, but the in-form Federer stood in his way in both Shanghai and Basel.
Despite crumbling in his defence of his title in Paris against an inspired Michael Llodra, Djokovic has long been a threat indoors and is certain to launch a stern challenge at next week’s Barclays ATP World Tour Finals in London.
Last year’s Barclays ATP World Tour Finals: Defending the year-end championship title he won in Shanghai 12 months earlier, the Serb got off to a similar start, defeating Nikolay Davydenko, a man he beat on two occasions on the way to the 2008 title. The three-setter took a lot of Djokovic, who suffered in his next match against Robin Soderling. A straight sets win over Rafael Nadal still didn’t ensure the Serb’s qualification, with both Davydenko and Soderling ultimately claiming the last four spots due the amount of games won.
Chances: A winner in 2008, Djokovic is always one to watch on the quick indoor surface – a strong end to the year can only bolster his chances.