Novak Djokovic’s 2014 season, relative to what we’d become used to in recent years, was perhaps a little bit of a letdown. Djokovic started the year off as the World No. 2 and he was a disappointment at Melbourne Park, losing to Stan Wawrinka in the 2014 Australian Open quarterfinals. However despite that surprise loss the Serb still sent notice that he would be challenging for top spot on tour a little while later. During the American hard court swing he claimed both Indian Wells and the Miami Masters with more success to follow.
Here’s a look at what the Serbinator accomplished last season and what fans can expect following his 2015 Australian Open title.
When the 2014 clay court season started, Djokovic hinted that he might be able to claim the second Grand Slam of the year at Roland Garros. Firstly, he’d defeated Nadal at the Rome Masters, just ahead of the 2014 French Open, and that made the Serb appear as though he was at top notch form. Then Djokovic, having won every other major at least once, plowed through his half of the draw in Paris, losing only two sets en route. Ultimately it was Nadal that would claim the Roland Garros title however Djokovic’s runner-up finish helped keep him in the mix for top spot on tour.
It was during the grass court season that Djokovic, despite losing the French Open final, managed to wrestle away the World No. 1 ranking from Nadal. The Spaniard, ineffective on the grass courts since Wimbledon 2012, was a middle round casualty at the All England Club. Djokovic, on the other hand, added a second Wimbledon title to his Grand Slam collection with a five-set win over Roger Federer in the SW19 final. That title allowed Djokovic to surpass Nadal in the rankings and he, the Serb, began his third stint as the top-ranked tennis player in the world.
But his momentum did not continue immediately after Wimbledon. The North American summer hard court tournaments were both disappointing and forgettable for fans of the Serbinator’s. Djokovic did basically nothing in both Toronto and Cincinnati, losing both tournaments in the round of sixteen. At the US Open in September Djokovic looked quite sharp through five rounds however he then fell in the semifinals to Kei Nishikori, a relatively inexperienced player.
But despite what has to be called a bad patch of results, the World No. 1 turned things around during the late hard court season. He claimed a title in Beijing in straight sets, defeating Tomas Berdych in the final. Djokovic also claimed the Paris Masters (d. Milos Raonic) and the Serb would go on to win the 2014 ATP World Tour Finals (d. Roger Federer, walkover).
While 2014 finished great for Djokovic, very early 2015 didn’t start great as Djokovic fell to Ivo Karlovic in Doha. However that result would not provide insight into how he would do at the Australian Open. The Serb, having already enjoyed so much success down-under, claimed yet another championship from Melbourne Park, defeating Andy Murray in a four-set final on February 1st.
With the Grand Slam title, Djokovic consolidated his position as the World No. 1 and many are now wondering what to expect for the rest of 2015.
One major question that surrounds Djokovic right now is if he can complete the illusive career Grand Slam with a title at the French Open?
Perhaps the odds makers can provide some insight into answering that question. Bwin, for instance, has Djokovic priced as a co-favorite alongside Nadal to win the 2015 French Open. Betfair, another sportsbook, actually make the Serb the outright favorite.
Another question with Djokovic is where he will fit with the all-time great players. It’s true that the current World No. 1 now has eight Grand Slam titles to his credit. However that total is still well behind two contemporaries of his: Rafael Nadal has fourteen while Roger Federer has seventeen. It is hard to start thinking of Djokovic as one of the greatest players ever when he might only be called the third best player among his contemporaries.
2015, even if Djokovic sweeps the Grand Slams, will not see the Serb come close to Nadal’s total. However this year could see Djokovic creep up another list.
As of the February 2nd rankings, the reigning Australian Open champion has spent a total of 132 weeks as the top ranked player in his career. Rafael Nadal’s total of 141 weeks is within reach and Djokovic could even catch John McEnroe before the end of 2015, a player who spent 170 weeks atop the world tennis rankings.
But how much further Djokovic can go up the list may be limited. He will turn 28-years old in 2015 and while that is not a vast age for athletes in general, it is up there a bit when it comes to tennis. He could start facing issues with consistency in the seasons ahead, although not necessarily the 2015 season.
In conclusion, Djokovic does not show any immediate signs of slowing down. He will surely falter here and there as even the best players suffer upsets at times. However in general it will probably be up to the other players on tour to elevate their games to catch the Serb. At the moment, he seems well ahead of the field and he is very likely to finish 2015 ranked as the World No. 1 player again.