Novak Djokovic: 21 Years Of Greatness

The next three years marked the birth of the “Big Three”. He finished each year at No. 3. In 2008, he won four trophies in seven finals. All four of these trophies came in five finals of majors. He won the Australian Open in January, which was his first-ever Grand Slam title, followed by the Indian Wells Open and the Italian Open.

Djokovic also competed in the 2008 Olympics. He lost to Rafael Nadal in the semifinals in three sets but claimed the bronze price after beating James Blake in the third-place match. At the end of the year, he defeated Nikolay Davydenko in straight sets to win the ATP Finals.

In 2009, Djokovic won five trophies in 10 finals. Five of those 10 finals came in Masters 1000 tournaments. He won the Paris Masters and also reached the semifinals of the Madrid Open, Shanghai Masters, and the US Open. He finished the year with a win percentage of 80%, winning 78 of 97 matches played.

In 2010, Novak Djokovic only reached one major final, the US Open, but lost to Rafael Nadal in the final. In November, he lost in the semifinals of the ATP Finals to Roger Federer. This was his 13th loss in 19 clashes with Federer. In December, he won two matches in the final of the Davis Cup to lead Serbia to their first Davis Cup trophy.

Novak Djokovic Climbs To No. 1

2011 was trophies galore for Novak Djokovic. He played three Grand Slam titles, losing only the French Open after being beaten by Roger Federer in the semifinals. This meant Djokovic had won four Grand Slam titles.

After defeating Rafael Nadal to win his first Wimbledon title in June, Djokovic rose to the summit of the ATP rankings for the first time in his career. He remained there till July 2012. The Serbian finished the year with the most trophies (10) in the most finals (11).

Novak Djokovic was absent from the Monte-Carlo and Shanghai Masters due to a knee injury and a ruptured back muscle respectively. He got to the finals of six of the remaining Masters 1000 tournaments, winning five of them.

Back To Back To Back To Back ATP Finals

2012 to 2015 had Novak Djokovic dominating the entire ATP tour. He won the Player Of The Year award three times in that period, finishing the year No. 1 in three of those years also. He won 31 titles after getting to 43 finals. 12 of the 43 finals were in Grand Slam events. He won six of them. In 2012 and 2013, he defended and retained his Australian Open titles.

In 2012, he defended his Miami and Canadian Open titles. He won the Shanghai Open for the first time after losing in the semifinals three times before. Djokovic represented Serbia again in the Olympics, losing the semifinals and third-place matches to the eventual winner, Andy Murray, and Juan Martín del Potro respectively.

Novak Djokovic ended the year with his second ATP Finals trophy. In 2013, 2014, and 2015, he defended and retained the trophy. In 2015, he had his best year ever. He played in the final of every major tournament he participated in, only withdrawing from the Madrid Open because he wanted to rest for the Italian and French Opens. He won three Grand Slams and six Master 1000 titles.

The Career Grand Slam

In 2016, Novak Djokovic defeated Andy Murray in the final of the French Open to win his first-ever French Open trophy. This was the last Grand Slam title in the set that had eluded him. It was his twelfth Grand Slam title and his career Grand Slam. He became the first player to win $100 million in prize money. He also broke the record for ATP rankings points with 16,950.

Coming after he had won Wimbledon and the US Open in 2015 as well as the Australian Open in January of 2016, it meant he had completed a non-calendar year Grand Slam. He became the first tennis professional since Rod Laver in 1969 to go into every one of the next Grand Slam tournaments as the defending champion.

At the 2016 French Open, he reached 200 weeks as world No. 1 and his 100th consecutive week at the ATP rankings summit. He was the top seed going into the tournament and dropped only two sets all tournament. He dropped the first sets to Roberto Bautista Agut in the fourth round and Andy Murray in the final.

In 2016, Novak Djokovic was voted into the office of the President of the ATP Player Council. He served in the office for exactly four years.

The 2017 Ghost Year 

Novak Djokovic excellently started the year, beaming with the high of his run to the final of the ATP Finals in 2016. In the Qatar Open in Doha, he defeated Andy Murray in the final to win his first trophy of the year.

The high ended in the next tournament as Denis Istomin knocked him out of the Australian Open in the second round. With Denis ranked 117 in the world at the time, the defeat was the biggest upset Djokovic had ever faced. It was the first time he had been defeated on tour by a player ranked outside the top 100.

After winning the Eastbourne International, Djokovic retired during his quarterfinal clash with Tomáš Berdych in Wimbledon due to an elbow injury. That was where Djokovic’s 2017 season ended. This meant he missed the US Open. It ended his streak of 51 consecutive Grand Slam tournament participations since the Australian Open in 2005.

Return From Injury, Then Surgery

Novak Djokovic returned from his injury-forced hiatus in the 2018 Australian Open. He lost to Chung Hyeon in the fourth round of the tournament. This pushed him to undergo surgery on the elbow. Djokovic was out of commission till the Indian Wells Open of 2018.

Djokovic got knocked out in the second round. He also lost in the second round of three of the subsequent four Masters 1000 tournaments before reaching the semifinals of the Italian Open and losing to Rafael Nadal. Djokovic then reached the quarterfinals of the French Open and the final of the Queen’s Club Championships.

The 5-Hour 5-Set Wimbledon Classic

Novak Djokovic entered the 2018 Wimbledon Championship as the No. 12 seed. He was ranked 21st in the world at the time. He also hadn’t won a single trophy since the Eastbourne International trophy 12 months prior.

In the semifinal, Djokovic clashed with his long-term friend and rival, Rafael Nadal. This match was a very closely fought clash between the Spaniard and the Serbian. Both players broke each other four times in 11 and 19 tries respectively, with Djokovic smashing 23 aces to Nadal’s eight.

The match lasted five hours and 17 minutes and contained a total of 386 points. The third set had ended in a tiebreak which Djokovic had won. It’s the second longest-ever Grand Slam semifinal. Novak Djokovic went on to overcome Kevin Anderson in the final.

Novak Djokovic moved 11 spots to No. 10 after the tournament. Ranked 21st, he was the lowest-ranked tennis professional to win the Wimbledon since 2001 when Goran Ivaniševi? who was then ranked 125, won the title.

The Career Golden Masters

Stefanos Tsitsipas then knocked the Serbian out of the Canadian Open third round, before Novak Djokovic went on to win the Cincinnati Masters later in August. This was the sixth time Djokovic had played in the final of the Cincinnati Masters. It was also the fourth time he had clashed with Roger Federer.

This was his first-ever Cincinnati Masters and after winning each of the other eight Masters 1000 titles in the past, this meant he had officially completed a career Golden Masters by winning all Masters 1000 tournaments in his career. He remains the only player ever to complete a career Golden Masters.

The 2018 Shanghai Masters: The Perfect Run

After winning the US Open and returning to the top three for the first time since the French Open in 2017, Novak Djokovic was the second seed going into the 2018 Shanghai Masters. After receiving a bye to the second round, he faced Jérémy Chardy in the second round. Djokovic defeated the Frenchman 6-3, 7-5. In the third round, the Serbian defeated Marco Cecchinato 6-4, 6-0.

Novak Djokovic defeated Kevin Anderson in the quarterfinal 7-6, 6-3 before running riot on Alexander Zverev 6-2, 6-1 in the semifinal. In the final, he defeated Borna Coric 6-3, 6-4. This trophy meant Djokovic was the Shanghai Masters record holder with four titles in the tournament.

This was also his 32nd Masters 1000 trophy in his career. Djokovic achieved perfection in the tournament, winning every set he played in the tournament without dropping a break of his serve all through the tournament.

Australian Open Royalty And 250 Weeks At No. 1

Before the 2019 Australian Open, Novak Djokovic had won the tournament six times in the past, a joint record held with Roger Federer and Roy Emerson. Djokovic had finished 2018 as No. 1 but lost the ATP Finals to Alexander Zverev.

After losing in the semifinal of the Qatar Open to Bautista Agut, his spot at the summit of the ATP rankings was being contested for by Rafael Nadal. After defeating Nadal in the final in three sets, Novak Djokovic retained his ranking, winning his 15th major title in the process. This took him to third on the list of all-time major winners. He also broke the record for most Australian Open titles.

After the Australian Open, Djokovic got knocked out in the third and fourth rounds of the Indian Wells Masters and Miami Open respectively before losing to Daniil Medvedev at the Monte-Carlo Masters. He reached 250 weeks at No. 1 in the Madrid Open before defeating Tsitsipas in the final.

Second Career Golden Masters 

The ATP launched a new tournament, the ATP Cup, in 2020. Novak Djokovic led Serbia to win the inaugural edition. After this, he played in his 16th edition of the Australian Open. He continued his record of winning every final he had played in, by defeating Dominic Thiem in the final.

Winning the Australian Open in 2020 marked the first time since 1968 when the Open Era started that a tennis player would win a Grand Slam title in three different decades, having won Grand Slam titles in the 2000s, 2010s, and 2020.

In August, Djokovic won his second Cincinnati Masters title, matching Rafael Nadal’s record of 35 Masters 1000 titles. This title also marked a double career Golden Masters, with the Cincinnati Masters meaning he had won all nine Masters 1000 titles at least twice each.

Second Career Grand Slam

In January 2021, Novak Djokovic won his ninth Australian Open title after defeating Daniil Medvedev in the final. This was his 18th Grand Slam title. This was also the second time he was defending the title and the second time he was winning the title a third consecutive time since 2013.

Two months later, Novak Djokovic equaled and broke Federer’s record of 310 weeks as world No. 1. In the 2021 French Open, Djokovic completed his second career Grand Slam. He defeated Rafael Nadal in the final to ensure he had won all Grand Slam tournaments at least twice.

After winning Wimbledon, Djokovic equaled Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal’s record of 20 all-time Grand Slam titles. He became the first man to win Grand Slam titles on the three major surfaces in the same year. This is a Surface Slam.

Year-End No. 1 All-Time Record

In 2021, Novak Djokovic won three of the Grand Slam titles, featuring in all four finals. This was the second time since 2015 that he would play in the finals of all Grand Slam tournaments in a calendar year.

Despite being absent from five of the eight Masters 1000, winning the Paris Masters against Medvedev secured him a spot in the ATP Finals. The Paris Masters was his 37th Masters 1000 title, an improvement on his former record. After winning the Paris Masters, he was guaranteed to finish the year at No. 1 for the seventh time, breaking Pete Sampras’ record.

24th Grand Slam Title And ATP Finals Record

Novak Djokovic was barred from entering Australia and deported in January of 2022. As a result of COVID restrictions, he missed out on all Masters 1000 tournaments that were held in the US and Canada. He won his 21st Grand Slam title in Wimbledon that year and defeated Casper Ruud in the final of the ATP Finals for his sixth title.

Novak Djokovic returned to the Australian Open in 2023 and overcame a hamstring injury to win his 10th title there and his 22nd Grand Slam title overall. This tied him with Rafael Nadal as the player with the most Grand Slam titles. He won the French Open for the third time, completing three career Grand Slams and being the only player ever to do so. He also became the player with the most Grand Slam titles at 23.

In Wimbledon, he lost in the final to Carlos Alcaraz but won the US Open after defeating Daniil Medvedev in the final. This extended his Grand Slam title wins to 24. He also equaled Federer’s record of reaching the finals of all Grand Slam tournaments of the year the times.

Novak Djokovic finished the year at No. 1 for a record 8th time. This meant he had finished the year in the top five for six consecutive years and 16 of the last 17 years, 15 of them in the top three. In the 2023 ATP Finals, he defeated Jannik Sinner in the final to set the record for the most ATP Finals titles with seven.

Djokovic Rivalries With The Big Four

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