Millennium Post


Djokovic has turned the tables since returning from an injury at the beginning of this year – in four exhilarating months, the Serbian has displayed immense grit to climb from No 22 to the summit of the ATP rankings.

Down the years, Novak Djokovic has dished out a legion of sumptuous coups in the business – snapping and setting various records in what could be described as a rainbow of awe-inspiring showings. Taking the world of tennis by storm with finesse, grit and focus – the Serbian has gone on to be clubbed among the all-time greats of the sport.

Following his stupendous haul of victories in the 2011 season which saw him marking his breakthrough to the pinnacle of rankings – he wrapped up his campaign ranked as numero uno after winning 10 tournaments with a 70-6 record. This included his hold on three major titles along with five Masters series. With an astonishing start to his ATP career, he ended the year capturing the attention of the tennis fraternity who were assured of his promising future ahead.

As time passed, Djokovic took a hit or two in his triumphing stride, losing the top spot occasionally to rivals – but, somehow, the Serb had managed to preserve a consistent amount of uptick in his glories as he continued adding a decent number of titles and records under his belt. His consistency powered him time and again with an opportunity to regain the most-wanted spot.

Djokovic was on the brink of becoming one of the greatest to have ever played the sport. In 2016, he was making headlines yet again after bagging his 60th career title in Doha by defeating Rafael Nadal. Nadal was left in dismay following a 6-1 6-2 defeat in the final of the Qatar Open. In the meantime, Djokovic bettered his own ATP ranking points record which rounded off to 16,790 – a run so lethal that even the accumulation of the then second and third-ranked Andy Murray and Roger Federer fell short of matching his ranking points.

In addition to this, in the same year, Djokovic swept both the Indian Wells Masters and the Miami Open – making him the first-ever singles' player to ever win both the tournaments for the third successive year.

In the 2016 French Open, Djokovic displayed sheer dominance against Murray to win the championship despite losing the first set 3-6. With this, he went on to become the champion of all the four major tournaments – thereby becoming the eighth player in the history of the game to achieve a Career Grand Slam and the third-ever to hold all four Grand Slam titles at the same time. As referred by many, the eventful feat is popularly known as the "Nole Slam".

However, later in the season, his form surprisingly dipped as he endured a series of losses starting with the finale of the US Open against Stan Wawrinka – this was followed by defeats in the later stages of the Shanghai Open and Paris Open. The defeats ultimately cost him the No 1 spot to Andy Murray.

These particular setbacks were nothing but straws in the wind, indicating a certain phase of unfortunate problems that was about to haunt the 14-time Grand Slam champion for a significant time of his 2017 and current, 2018 campaign.

However, the 31-year-old, who is currently ranked World No 2, has turned the game completely on its head. The resurgent Djokovic eyes a top-spot finish at the current Paris Masters, which he had missed winning last year – eventually being knocked out of the top 10 in the ATP rankings for the first time in over a decade.

To further ignite the agony, a different turn of events unfolded at the start of 2018 season wherein a dramatic ebbing of the Serbian's form raised serious doubts over his future. The Serb slid further downward as he struggled to find his rhythm, caught by an elbow injury that had been troubling him since the last couple of years.

After being eliminated in the fourth round at this year's Australia Open, he underwent an elbow surgery and hastened his return. This only piled up more anguish on him, affecting his confidence as he tasted bitter defeats with unanticipated early exits.

Arriving at the Wimbledon ranked as low as 22, Djokovic displayed a heroic run to turn the tide of time. He went on to win 28 of his last 29 matches, including the Wimbledon, Cincinnati Masters, US Open and the Shanghai Masters – becoming the first player since Marat Safin in 2000 to begin the season outside the top 20 and end up at the top of the ATP rankings.

Entering the Paris Masters ranked second only to Rafa – the withdrawal of Nadal in the second round (due to an abdomen muscle aberration), further accentuated Djokovic's heroic climb to the top of the ATP rankings. Now, it is virtually ascertained that Djokovic will return to the World No 1 position after a series of stellar performances in just four jaw-dropping months.

As the 2018 ATP season draws to a close, Djokovic has already registered 47 wins and just 10 losses with a win percentage of 82. His display of grit and perseverance can be aptly observed in the back-breaking semifinal of the Wimbledon which he won against Nadal by clocking 5 hours and 15 minutes, before brushing aside Kevin Andersen in the final, making it the second-longest match to have ever been played on Centre Court.

Furthermore, him outclassing Federer in the finals of Cincinnati makes him the first man in ATP's history to have bagged all nine Masters 1000 tournament, eclipsing the Swiss's to rise to the 2nd position in rankings.

But indisputably, the Serb's overwhelming red-hot form since redeeming his lost sheen to a prolonged elbow surgery and fighting back to recover from a crisis of confidence has allowed him to rev up his game and churn out the glorious old days of his career – cherished in between the years 2011 and 2016.

After the Paris Masters, the ATP tour's eight top-ranked is due to catch up in London from November 11 for the ensuing Finals, and the 31-year-old Serbian will surely be looking forward to matching Roger Federer's tally of six ATP Finals victories in the capital city of Great Britain.

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