Novak Djokovic’s sensational 2015 has ensured that he is the first player to earn over $20 million this season. Despite the world No.1 setting numerous record this year, including the most Masters titles won within the season (6), is it fair to say his season has been the best performance in recent years?
In his 15 consecutive finals this year, Djokovic has won three Grand Slam titles, six Masters, one ATP 500 and the ATP World Tour Finals title. He has only lost to four players during the best season of his life. These players were Andy Murray, Ivo Karlovic, Stan Wawrinka and Roger Federer. Federer was the only player able to beat Djokovic on multiple occasions. The Serbian ends the year with a 82-6 win-loss rate, which equates to a 93% winning rate. The outstanding performance produced by Djokovic is something to celebrate but one thing has been pointed out by his coach Boris Becker.
— Boris Becker (@TheBorisBecker) November 23, 2015
Regardless of the logic behind Becker’s tweet, the German is correct to state this. 2006, aka the year of Federer, could be argued as the ultimate display of dominance on the men’s tour in recent time. Similar to Djokovic, Federer also reached the final in all four Grand Slam tournaments in 2006, winning the title in three of them. The Swiss also claimed 9 other titles to bring his 2006 titles count to 12 out of 16 finals. Playing 97 matches during that season, the Swiss player won 92 of them to give him a 94.84 winning rate. Only two players were able to beat Federer which was Rafael Nadal on four occasions and Andy Murray once. There was just one tournament where the 34-year-old failed to reach the final, which was the Cincinnati Masters.
That year wasn’t just a one-off for Federer, in fact the year before his incredible 2006, the Swiss actually achieved a higher winning percentage of 95.29% (81-4). Federer achieved this by reaching 12 finals, winning 11 of them. In 2005 he also produced a 35-match winning streak on the tour, which is the eighth highest of all-time. This is however not Federer’s best record, between 2006-2007 he achieved a streak of 42 matches.
Djokovic and Federer aren’t the only two players who have enjoyed a dominant performance in recent time. Rafael Nadal’s 12 titles in 2005 was another exceptional achievement. At the age of 19, the Spaniard enjoyed a 24-match winning streak during a clay court season dominated by him. 9 out of Nadal’s 12 titles was on clay, including his maiden French Open title on his first attempt. Nadal is only the second player in history to win the French Open title on his first attempt, the first man was Mats Wilander in 1982. During 2005 he won 79 matches, second to Federer, who achieved 81 that year.
The aspect which has stood out the most of Nadal’s dominance on the tour is his relationship with the clay. Between 2005- 2007 he won 81 consecutive matches on clay, a record that no other player has managed to get near to on any surface. The nearest anybody got was Ivan Lendl, who won 66 consecutive matches on carpet between 1982-1983. Federer’s best is 65 on grass (2005-2006) and Djokovic’s in 35 on hard (2010-2011).
Nadal has also enjoyed dominance in other years. In 2010 he won three consecutive Grand Slam titles to seal his year-end ranking of number 1 in the world. Three years later he experienced a strong 2013 when he reached 14 finals, winning ten of them. Nadal played 82 matches that year, winning 75 of them.
Reviewing the performance of all three of these players, Djokovic’s 2015 achievements seem more normal. This doesn’t take anything away from the Serbian who should be praised for the outstanding display that he has produced this year. It does, however remind us that we should not forget the other achievements that has been accomplished in recent time.
Overall, I would still consider Federer’s performance to be the greatest out of the last 30 years on the tour. Between 2005- 2007 he won 31 titles, including 7 Grand Slam titles. During this period the Swiss achieved 241 wins compared to just 18 losses which equated to a 93.1% winning rate.
The question left is can Djokovic maintain his form for the foreseeable future to be able to surpass this outstanding benchmark set by one of the greatest?
Australian Open Day 9 Preview: Djokovic And Federer A Win Away From Mouthwatering Clash
Four singles matches will take place on the prestigious Rod Laver Arena with a place in the semi-finals at stake for the winners.
But to get there, those all-time greats will have to overcome two men who love playing in Australia. Speaking of Australia, their world No.1 faces last year’s finalist, who eliminated Ash Barty from her home Slam a year ago in this same round. And today’s other singles match features two Major quarter-final debutantes playing the biggest match of their careers.
Ash Barty (1) vs. Petra Kvitova (7)
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Kvitova not only defeated Barty last year in Melbourne: she also beat her two weeks prior to that in Sydney, in a dramatic, high-quality championship match decided by a final set tiebreak. Petra actually claimed all of their first four meetings. However, Barty has since taken their last three, all within the past year, and all played on hard courts. They clash of styles usually make for dynamic, competitive clashes. Both women are coming off tough three-setters two days ago: Barty against Alison Riske, and Kvitova against Maria Sakkari. In last year’s quarterfinal here, Barty seemed a bit overwhelmed by the occasion, as it was her first time advancing this far at a Major. But a year and a Slam title later, Ash will be much more prepared for this moment. She’ll also benefit from the slower-playing courts this year in Melbourne. I expect a much tighter contest today, but I still give the slight edge to Kvitova. She’s looked extra motivated and focused during this fortnight, and seems to play her best tennis during the first few months each season. And there’s just a ton of pressure on Ash in front of her home country, which is a lot to overcome.
Novak Djokovic (2) vs. Milos Raonic (32)
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Djokovic has simply dominated Raonic since they first met seven years. He’s 9-0 against the Canadian, and has won 21 of 23 sets played. So does Milos have a chance today? He just might. Raonic can find some positives in their last meeting at the 2018 Cincinnati Masters, where Milos had Novak extremely frustrated for a set-and-a-half on a fast-playing hard court. And Raonic has played exceptionally through four rounds here. He has been serving as well as ever, and is yet to drop a set. But even more impressive is that only one of those sets required a tiebreak, which shows how successful he’s been in breaking his opponents. When he’s playing this well, Milos is much more than just a big serve. While Djokovic has also advanced comfortably to this stage, he hasn’t looked quite his best. There must be a bit of physical and mental fatigue following the ATP Cup just two weeks ago. All things considered, Djokovic remains the favorite, but I expect Raonic to make this extremely competitive. He has a legitimate shot at pulling off the upset despite their lopsided head-to-head.
Roger Federer (3) vs. Tennys Sandgren
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Tennys is into his second Australian Open quarterfinal in the last three years. That’s impressive, but is eclipsed by Federer’s absurd 57 career Slam quarterfinals. It’s rare to get a first-time meeting in a Slam quarterfinal, but that’s what we have here with the living legend against the 28-year-old American who is a career 6-10 at Majors outside of his two quarterfinal runs. Sandgren played well to advance this far, defeating two top 12 players. Federer was lucky to survive his five-setter against John Millman two rounds ago, but recovered enough to dispatch of Marton Fucsovics on Sunday in four. Tennys is not used to playing this deep into Majors, and doesn’t have much in his game that should bother Federer. Roger is 14-0 in Australian Open quarterfinals, and he’s a heavy favorite to make it 15 straight.
Sofia Kenin (14) vs. Ons Jabeur
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The 21-year-old American leads their head-to-head 2-0, with both matches taking place last season. Kenin is the far more accomplished player, as she’s set to debut at a career-high ranking of No.12 on Monday, thanks to this run as well as three titles last season. Jabeur has long been touted a talented player, but this has finally been the breakout event for the 25-year-old, who has never won a WTA title and will debut inside the top 50 on Monday. Jabeur’s aggressive style has already earned her wins during this fortnight over Johanna Konta, Caroline Garcia, Caroline Wozniacki, and Qiang Wang. She’s capable of pulling off another upset set, though I’m betting on Kenin’s experience, as well as her grit, to pull her through to her first Major semifinal.
Order of play (time in GMT)
Rod Laver Arena
S. Kenin (14) v O. Jabeur
Not before 1:30am
A. Barty (1) v P. Kvitova (7)
Not before 3:30am
T. Sandgren v R. Federer (3)
M. Raonic (32) v N. Djokovic (2)
M. Purcell/L. Saville v S. Gonzalez/K. Skupski
Rafael Nadal Ousts Kyrgios In Thrilling Australian Open Grudge Match
The night-time clash started with Kyrgios paying tribute to Kobe Bryant, but it was Nadal who came out on top.
World No.1 Rafael Nadal is through to the quarter-finals of the Australian Open after battling his way past a determined Nick Kyrgios on Monday.
The highly anticipated showdown lived up to expectations as Nadal rallied to a 6-3, 3-6, 7-6(6), 7-6(4), win over the former top 20 player. Emulating his four-sets win over Kyrgios that occurred in the second round of Wimbledon last year. In their latest clash, both players illustrated glimmers of their best tennis as they battled through their nerves. Although it was Nadal who came out on top in their latest encounter.
“It has been a very tough match. It seemed like at the beginning I was in control a little bit, but against Nick you are never in control because if you make a mistake like I did during the second set he has the break and it is so difficult to break him.” Nadal said during his on-court interview.
Historically the relationship between the player’s have been far from straightforward. Nadal has previously criticised Kyrgios for his at times controversial behaviour on the tour. Meanwhile, Kyrgios once accused him of being a ‘super salty loser.’ Although both have since played down their spat. There would be no further breakdown in relations during what was a relatively peaceful clash on Monday evening in Melbourne. The 222-minute showdown saw the top seed hit 64 winners to 27 unforced errors. Compared to Kyrgios’ tally of 50 and 43.
With a place in the quarter-final of a grand slam at stake, Kyrgios began his quest with a touching tribute. Taking to the court for his showdown, he walked into the arena wearing an LA Lakers top in memory of Kobe Bryant. The NBA superstar who was killed on Sunday in a helicopter crash at the age of 41.
— ATP Tour (@atptour) January 27, 2020
Meanwhile, Nadal also paid tribute to Bryant following his pulsating win on the Rod Laver Arena.
“He always wanted more, he always wanted to increase his level. He was an inspiration for the world of sport. Kobe Bryant will be in our hearts and our minds for the rest of our lives.”
Early on Kyrgios looked lethargic on the court and lacked intensity in his shot-making. Enabling the world No.1 to break four games into the match and subsequently take the first set with relative ease.
Despite taking an early stronghold, Nadal soon came under pressure from the world No.26, who he lead 4-3 in their head-to-head prior to their latest clash. Kyrgios’ turn to strike saw him elegantly hit a winning forehand shot to break for a 3-1 lead in the second frame. Gaining in momentum and raising the decibel levels around the Rod Laver Arena, he went on to level the match by closing the second set with two consecutive aces out wide.
Nadal is no stranger to fighting back against Kyrgios after dropping a set during two out of his four previous wins over him. Despite Nadal’s list of achievements that include a record 12 French Open titles, he struggled to tame his fiery rival. The third set was a cat and mouse chase will no breaks of serve heading into a crucial tiebreaker dominated by nerves.
The top seed looked to be in full control of the tiebreaker with a 4-1 lead in his favour. However, a forehand shot into the net from Nadal enabled Kyrgios to break back and eventually draw level at 5-5. The drama didn’t stop there. A Kyrgios double fault handed the Spaniard set point and a chance to restore his lead. Something Nadal failed to do after he also hit a double fault. Nevertheless, he prevailed on his second opportunity with the help of a forehand shot from his rival slamming into the net. Making it the third consecutive time Nadal has won a tiebreaker against Kyrgios on the tour.
After issuing his latest blow to Kyrgios, the 33-year-old rapidly gained in momentum against his faltering rival. Three games into the fourth set, a lacklustre service game from Kyrgios enable him to break for only the second time and extend his lead further.
However, there would be another twist to the match. Serving for a place in the last eight at 5-4, a tense Nadal faltered at the worst possible moment. Handing the break back to Kyrgios. A true testament to the resilience he demonstrated throughout. With all to play for it would be another tiebreak that would separate the two. Which Nadal eventually prevailed in after a Kyrgios forehand slice ploughed into the net to secure his victory.
“He played a good game. I played a scary game when leading 5-4 (in the fourth set).” Nadal reflected after.
“That’s part of the game. I accept that and I tried to recover mentally. I tried to find again the level of tennis before the tiebreak.”
Praise for Kyrgios
Through to the quarter-final of a major four the 41st time in his career, Nadal paid tribute to Kyrgios’ performance. Publicly encouraging the controversy-hit player to maintain his commitment to the sport.
“When he’s playing today with a lot of positive attitude he gives a lot of positive things to our sport.” He said.
“I encourage him to keep working like this because he is one of the highest talents that we have on the tour and I like this Nick Kyrgios during the tournament.”
Nadal, who hasn’t won the Australian Open since 2009, is through to the last eight in Melbourne for the 12th time in his career. His reward will be a showdown with Dominic Thiem, who downed Gael Monfils in straight sets earlier in the day.
“It will be tough. We know each other very well.” Nadal said of Thiem.
“He’s a great fighter and hits the ball very strongly. I’ve seen him play very well (against Monfils) so it’s going to be a tough one.”
“I know I need to play my best but I really believe I am moving in the right direction.”
Nadal leads Thiem 9-4 in their head-to-head.
Death Of NBA Legend Kobe Bryant Sparks Outpouring Of Grief At Australian Open
Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and others react to the devastating news of the death of an all time great in the world of sport.
World No.1 Novak Djokovic has said his heart is in mourning following the death of basketball icon Kobe Bryant on Sunday.
The 41-year-old former LA Lakers superstar was killed on Sunday in a helicopter crash along with his teenage daughter. Bryant was one of the world’s most famous NBA players throughout the past two decades and achieved a series of accolades. Including being named the 2008 NBA Most Valuable Player and two-time NBA Finals MVP. A two-time Olympic gold medallist, he was also selected to play in 18 All Star Games.
“My heart truly mourns over the news today. Kobe was a great mentor and friend to me. You and your daughter will live forever in our hearts. There are not enough words to express my deepest sympathies to the Bryants and every family suffering from this tragedy. RIP my friend.” Djokovic said in a tribute on social media.
Bryant’s death came just a day after the 16-time grand slam champion praised him as a ‘one of his mentors.’ During Djokovic’s elbow injury problem and subsequent drop in the world rankings, the Serbian said Bryant helped him get back on track. Reflecting on the conversations the two have had in the past, he said he received some ‘valuable guidance.’
“Kobe has been one of my mentors,” Djokovic told ESPN on Saturday. “I’ve had several phone conversations with him and also of course when we see each other live in the past couple of years. When I was going through the injury with my elbow and struggling to mentally and emotionally handle all of these different things that were happening to me and dropping in the Rankings and then having to work my way up, he was one of the people who was really there for me to give me some very valuable advice and guidelines to kind of believe and trust in myself, trust the process that I’ll be back.
Despite being renowned as one of the greatest basketball players in history, Bryant also showed a love of tennis since retirement. Attending the US Open multiple times, he once said that the sport helps people cope with the inner emotions on the court.
Tennis has those qualities, those challenges. If you look at my daughters at home. I’m trying to teach them how to navigate through society as they get older. What are some of those sports that can really teach them? You said earlier, you’re out there on your own, you have to figure out, I just hit three bad shots, what those have to do with the next shot. I need to put those behind me and move on. Same thing with great shots—I just played a great set, won the first set. You can’t dwell on that, you have to move on to the next. So how do you navigate those inner emotions? Tennis is a great metaphor for that.” – Bryant last August
Djokovic’s tribute is just one of a series to come from the world of tennis. Rafael Nadal, who will play Nick Kyrgios in the fourth round of the Australian Open on Monday, has said he’s been left in ‘shock.’ The King of Clay once spoke about the NBA Great in a four-minute tribute video. Describing him as a ‘fighter.’
I woke up this morning with the horrible news of the tragic death of one of the greatest sportsman in the world. Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna and other passengers. My condolences to his wife and families. I am in shock.
— Rafa Nadal (@RafaelNadal) January 27, 2020
France’s Gael Monfils said he was sad to lose somebody ‘very special.’ The world No.10 spoke out following his three sets loss to Dominic Thiem in Melbourne on Monday.
“It was really tough this morning. When I woke up, I received a bunch of messages. Definitely when I found out that, I was really, really sad, because it was someone that for sure I looked up to growing up and someone very special.” He said.
“To be honest with you, I’m really devastated by this because it means quite a lot for me, and I know also for Elina (Svitolina), and definitely all my thoughts and prayers for his family.”
In the world of women’s tennis, world No.4 Naomi Osaka has posted a heartfelt open letter on social media. Describing Bryant as both her mentor and big brother. The two had known each other on a personal level and have met multiple times. Last August Bryant hailed the two-time grand slam champion after saying it is ‘very rare to find an athlete at that age to be so trusting of her skill.’ Osaka was knocked out of the Australian Open by Coco Gauff.
I can’t. pic.twitter.com/Vc3dJZztYS
— NaomiOsaka大坂なおみ (@naomiosaka) January 27, 2020
Simona Halep has described the loss as a ‘tough moment for the world.’ She spoke out about the death following her 6-4, 6-4, win over Elise Mertens on Monday.
“I feel really sad about this. It’s a huge loss for the world, for the sport. I mean, for the family, I cannot described the of lose one person. It’s terrible to lose more than one. It’s a tragedy.” She said.
“So all my thoughts to the family, and I don’t know how they can feel a little bit better, but it’s a tough moment for the world. I feel so sad about it.”
View this post on Instagram
Can not believe what happend to you and your daughter.. I had the honour and privilege to meet you 2 years ago. You were such a nice, friendly guy. Down to earth. Who couldnt stop talking about tennis. How you wanted and could improve every little detail about your tennis game. The fact that you already had so much passion and determination for tennis and every little detail about the game to get better every day was so admiring and inspiring. Could not even imagine how much of a hard worker you were in your sport. A sportsman, a father, a husband, and above all that, a true legend.. All my thoughts go out to your family.. R.I.P black mamba.. 💫💫
— Alize Cornet (@alizecornet) January 27, 2020
What terrible news to wake up to … life is so unpredictable .. RIP Kobe Bryant and his beautiful daughter .. what a legend you were and will remain .. #KobeBryantRIP
— Sania Mirza (@MirzaSania) January 27, 2020
— Stefanos Tsitsipas (@StefTsitsipas) January 27, 2020
— Feliciano López (@feliciano_lopez) January 26, 2020
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