The other day, I started a series of posts to determine which current tennis player is really the greatest male tennis player of all time; you can read Part 1 here. I say current because previous records have been smashed and passed by the current generation of players. In part 2 of who the greatest tennis player of all time I give you Serbia’s Novak Djokovic.
Up until the last couple of years, I was convinced that Djokovic would never be a contender for the world #1, nor win multiple majors and titles in the same year. Yes, at the early stages he was good, but not great. I saw him play in 2007 at the BNP Parbias Open Final against then world #2 Rafael Nadal. I didn’t really think much of his tennis game, but of course it was the final so something was to be said about it.
2007 was Djokovic’s breakthrough year, reaching 7 finals and winning 5 titles; including 2 Masters 1000 events (Canada & Miami). He also reached the 2007 US Open Final which he lost to Roger Federer 6–7(4), 6–7(2), 4–6. This was also the year where tennis personalities were in the spotlight, Djokovic known for his colleagues’ impressions (Sharapova, McEnroe, Roddick, etc.) began to win over the fans of tennis. I think some of them are pretty funny, he does Maria Sharapova really good!
2008 was more of the same for Novak, more winning, more points, more finals, and more matches against Nadal and Federer. But, this time Djokovic added something a little bigger to his tennis resume; a Australian Open title. During this time, I speculate that Djokovic was starting to get comfortable with being “the other” guy in the rankings; in a time overshadowed by the Federer-Nadal rivalry Djokovic needed to keep a steady head to continue to nip at the heels of the top 2. I think he got a little too comfortable at the US Open, where he beat the heavily favored Andy Roddick in the quarterfinals. Roddick commented on the many breaks (not service breaks) during matches Novak took, so Djokovic retaliated after beating Roddick – unfortunately the NYC crowd didn’t think it was too cute and practically booed him off the court in his post match on court interview.
Everything that Djokovic has accomplished in the first few years of his professional career do not compare to what he’s accomplished in 2011. This year is why Djokovic should absolutely be considered a contender for the greatest tennis player of all time. Novak has ripped the heart out of every tennis player and used it for groundstroke practice. Not only has be beaten the crap out of Roger Federer, he’s beaten down Rafael Nadal on his best surface, clay…twice…in straight sets. After those achievements, Djokovic won 3 majors; Australia, Wimbledon, and the US Open. He was bumped out of the French Open in the semifinals by Roger Federer.
The most important and quite possibly the greatest achievement of Djokovic’s 2011 tennis season is that for the better part of the year he hadn’t lost a single tennis match. That is historic, epic, and downright GREAT! Currently, Djokovic’s record is at 64-3 which is no small feat by any stretch of the imagination. On top of that ridiculous record, Djokovic set a more impressive record by winning 5 ATP Masters 1000 events in a single season, a triumph that no other tennis player has ever done in the open era.
Outside of tennis, Djokovic hasn’t done much in the way of charity, however; Novak has given plenty back to his home country of Serbia. In 2009, Novak began to host the Serbian Open, which has been added to the ATP 250 event list, of course Djokovic has won it twice – fitting no? Unlike Federer and Nadal, Novak doesn’t participate much in charitable work, which is fine I suppose; though giving back to those less fortunate would be a nice addition to his already impressive resume.
Stay tuned for part 3 of who really is the greatest tennis player of all time where I will be going over Roger Federer!