Overview of life
Novak Djokovic (Serbian: Новак Ђоковић, Novak Đoković, pronounced [nôʋaːk d͡ʑôːkoʋit͡ɕ] (About this sound listen); born 22 May 1987), often referred to by the hypocorism Nole, is a Serbian professional tennis player who is currently ranked world No. 4 in men’s singles tennis by the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP). He is considered one of the greatest tennis players of all time.[a] Djokovic holds the second-highest match winning rate (82.7%) in the Open Era, as of June 2017.
Djokovic has won 12 Grand Slam singles titles, the fourth most in history, and held the No. 1 spot in the ATP rankings for a total of 223 weeks. In majors, Djokovic has won six Australian Open titles, three Wimbledon titles, two US Open titles and one French Open title. In 2016, he became the eighth player in history to achieve the Career Grand Slam; by winning the 2016 French Open, Djokovic became the third man to hold all four major titles at once, the first since Rod Laver in 1969, and the first ever to do so on three different surfaces.
Djokovic has won an all-time record of 30 Masters 1000 series titles, tied with Rafael Nadal. Djokovic’s records include breaking the single-season record with six masters titles in 2015, winning 31 consecutive ATP World Tour Masters 1000 series matches, playing in the finals at all nine ATP Masters 1000 tournaments (shared with Roger Federer and Nadal), and being the only player to win eight of the nine events (and at least twice). Among other titles, he has won the ATP World Tour Finals five times and was on the Serbian team which won the 2010 Davis Cup. He also won the Bronze medal in men’s singles at the 2008 Summer Olympics.
Djokovic is the first Serbian player to be ranked No. 1 by the ATP and the first male player representing Serbia to win a Grand Slam singles title. Djokovic has won numerous awards, including the 2012, 2015, and 2016 Laureus World Sports Award for Sportsman of the Year, 2011 BBC Overseas Sports Personality of the Year, five-time ITF World Champion, and four-time ATP year-end number 1. He is a recipient of the Order of St. Sava, the Order of Karađorđe’s Star, and the Order of the Republika Srpska.
Early & personal life
Djokovic was born on 22 May 1987 in Belgrade, SR Serbia, Yugoslavia, to parents Srđan and Dijana (née Žagar). Novak’s father is Montenegrin in origin and his mother is Croatian by background, with Novak considering himself to be Serbian. His two younger brothers, Marko and Djordje, are also tennis players with professional aspirations.
A resident in Monte Carlo, Djokovic was coached by former Slovak tennis player Marián Vajda from 2006 until Boris Becker took over the role of head coach in December 2013. Djokovic is a self-described fan of languages, speaking Serbian, English, French, German, and Italian.
He met his future wife, Jelena Ristić, in high school, and began dating her in 2005. The two became engaged in September 2013, and on 10 July 2014 the couple got married on Sveti Stefan in Montenegro, while a church wedding was held in the same place, on 12 July 2014, in the Church of Saint Stephen (Serbian: Црква Светог Архиђакона Стефана) which belongs to Praskvica Monastery. On 24 April 2014, Djokovic announced that he and Ristić were expecting their first child. His son Stefan was born in October 2014.
Djokovic’s parents, Srđan and Dijana
Djokovic began playing tennis at the age of four. In the summer of 1993, the six-year-old was spotted by Yugoslav tennis player Jelena Genčić at Mount Kopaonik, where Djokovic’s parents ran a fast-food parlour. Upon seeing Djokovic play tennis, she stated: “This is the greatest talent I have seen since Monica Seles.”
Genčić worked with young Djokovic over the following six years before realizing that, due to his rapid development, going abroad in search of increased level of competition was the best option for his future. To that end, she contacted Nikola Pilić and in September 1999 the 12-year-old moved to the Pilić tennis academy in Oberschleißheim, Germany, spending four years there. At the age of 14, he began his international career, winning European championships in singles, doubles, and team competition.
Djokovic is known for his often humorous off-court impersonations of his fellow players, many of whom are his friends. This became evident to the tennis world after his 2007 US Open quarterfinal win over Carlos Moyá, where he entertained the audience with impersonations of Rafael Nadal and Maria Sharapova. His impersonations have also become popular on YouTube. Djokovic did an impression of John McEnroe after his fourth round match victory at the 2009 US Open, before playing a brief game with McEnroe, much to the delight of the audience. Djokovic is a member of the “Champions for Peace” club, a group of famous elite athletes committed to serving peace in the world through sport, created by Peace and Sport, a Monaco-based international organization.
Djokovic is a member of the Serbian Orthodox Church. On 28 April 2011, Patriarch Irinej of Serbia awarded Djokovic the Order of St. Sava I class, the highest decoration of the Serbian Orthodox Church, for his contributions to monasteries of the Serbian Orthodox Church in Kosovo and Metohija and charitable work in Serbia. He is a keen fan of Serbian football club Red Star Belgrade, Italian club A.C. Milan and Portuguese club S.L. Benfica. He is good friends with fellow Serbian tennis player Ana Ivanovic, whom he has known since the two were children growing up in Serbia, through Djokovic’s uncle and Ivanovic’s father.
As a member of the Yugoslav national team, Djokovic reached the final of the 2001 Junior Davis Cup for players under 14, in which he lost his match in singles. In juniors, Djokovic compiled a singles win/loss record of 40–11 (and 23–6 in doubles), reaching a combined junior world ranking of No. 24 in February 2004. At the junior Grand Slam tournaments his best showing was at the Australian Open where he reached the semifinals in 2004. He did not play at Wimbledon but he did play at the Jr French Open and Jr US Open.
Start of professional career
Djokovic turned professional in 2003. At the beginning of his professional career, he mainly played in Futures and Challenger tournaments, winning three of each type from 2003 to 2005. His first tour-level tournament was Umag in 2004, where he lost to Filippo Volandri in the round of 32.
Djokovic made his first Grand Slam tournament appearance by qualifying for the 2005 Australian Open, where he was defeated by eventual champion Marat Safin in the first round in straight sets, after defeating future rival Stanislas Wawrinka in qualifying. However, he went on to reach the third round of both Wimbledon and the US Open, coming back from two sets down to defeat Guillermo García-López in the former, and beating Gaël Monfils and Mario Ančić in the latter. Djokovic participated in four Masters events and qualified for two of them, his best performance coming in Paris, where he reached the third round and defeated fourth seed Mariano Puerta along the way.
2006: First ATP titles
Djokovic became one of the 40 best players in the world singles rankings after making his first quarterfinal appearance at a Grand Slam event, coming at the French Open, and also by reaching the fourth round at Wimbledon that year.
Three weeks after Wimbledon, Djokovic won his first ATP title at the Dutch Open in Amersfoort without losing a set, defeating Nicolás Massú in the final. He won his second career title at the Moselle Open in Metz, and moved into the top 20 for the first time in his career. Djokovic also reached his first career Masters quarterfinal at Madrid during the indoor hardcourt season.
On 9 April 2006, Djokovic clinched a decisive Davis Cup win against Great Britain by defeating Greg Rusedski in four sets in the fourth match of the tie, giving Serbia and Montenegro an insurmountable 3–1 lead in their best-of-five series, thus keeping the country in the Group One Euro/African Zone of Davis Cup. Afterwards, Djokovic briefly considered moving from Serbia to play for Great Britain. Following this match-up, the British media spoke of Djokovic’s camp negotiating with the Lawn Tennis Association about changing his international loyalty by joining British tennis ranks. The nineteen-year-old Djokovic, who was ranked sixty-third in the world at the time, mostly dismissed the story at first by saying that the talks were not serious, describing them as “the British being very kind to us after the Davis Cup.” However, more than three years later, in October 2009, Djokovic confirmed that the talks between his family and the LTA throughout April and May 2006 were indeed serious:
Britain was offering me a lot of opportunities and they needed someone because Andy [Murray] was the only one, and still is. That had to be a disappointment for all the money they invest. But I didn’t need the money as much as I had done. I had begun to make some for myself, enough to afford to travel with a coach, and I said, ‘Why the heck?’ I am Serbian, I am proud of being a Serbian, I didn’t want to spoil that just because another country had better conditions. If I had played for Great Britain, of course I would have played exactly as I do for my country but deep inside, I would never have felt that I belonged. I was the one who took the decision.
2007: Reaching the top ten and first major final
Djokovic began 2007 by defeating Australian Chris Guccione in the final of the tournament in Adelaide, before losing in the fourth round of the Australian Open to eventual champion Roger Federer in straight sets. His performances at the Masters Series events in Indian Wells, and Key Biscayne, where he was the runner-up and champion respectively, pushed him into the world’s top 10. Djokovic lost the Indian Wells final to Rafael Nadal, but defeated Nadal in Key Biscayne in the quarterfinals before defeating Guillermo Cañas for the title in the finals.
After winning his first Master Series title, Djokovic returned to Serbia to help his country enter the Davis Cup World Group in a match against Georgia. Djokovic won a point by defeating Georgia’s George Chanturia. Later, he played in the Monte Carlo Masters, where he was defeated by David Ferrer in the third round, and at the Estoril Open, where he defeated Richard Gasquet in the final. Djokovic then reached the quarterfinals of both the Internazionali d’Italia in Rome, where he lost to Nadal, and the Hamburg Masters, where he was defeated by Carlos Moyà. At the French Open, Djokovic reached his first major semifinal, losing to eventual champion Nadal.
At Wimbledon, Djokovic won a five-hour quarterfinal against Marcos Baghdatis. In his semifinal match against Nadal, he was forced to retire with elbow problems in the third set, after winning the first and losing the second set.
Djokovic during his first round match against Robin Haase at the 2007 US Open.
Djokovic’s next tournament was the Rogers Cup in Montreal, and he defeated world No. 3 Andy Roddick in the quarterfinals, world No. 2 Nadal in the semifinals, and world No. 1 Federer in the final. This was the first time a player had defeated the top three ranked players in one tournament since Boris Becker in 1994. Djokovic was also only the second player, after Tomáš Berdych, to have defeated both Federer and Nadal since they became the top two players in the world. After this tournament, Björn Borg stated that Djokovic “is definitely a contender to win a Grand Slam (tournament).” The following week at the Cincinnati Masters, Djokovic lost in the second round to Moyà in straight sets. Nevertheless, he went on to reach the final of the US Open, where he had five set points in the first set and two in the second set, but lost them all before losing the match in straight sets to the top-seeded Federer.
Djokovic won his fifth title of the year at the BA-CA TennisTrophy in Vienna, defeating Stanislas Wawrinka in the final. His next tournament was the Madrid Masters, where he lost to David Nalbandian in the semifinals. Djokovic, assured of finishing the year as world No. 3, qualified for the year-ending Tennis Masters Cup, but did not advance beyond the round robin matches. He received the Golden Badge award for the best athlete in Serbia, and the Olympic Committee of Serbia declared him the best athlete in the country.
Djokovic played a key role in the 2007 play-off win over Australia by winning all his matches and helping promote the Serbia Davis Cup team to the 2008 World Group. In Serbia’s tie against Russia in Moscow in early 2008, Djokovic was sidelined due to influenza and was forced to miss his first singles match. He returned to win his doubles match, teaming with Nenad Zimonjić, before being forced to retire during his singles match with Nikolay Davydenko.
2008: First major title and Olympic bronze medal
Djokovic started the year by playing the Hopman Cup with fellow Serbian world No. 3 Jelena Janković. While he won all his round-robin matches, the team lost 1–2 in the final to the second-seeded American team of Serena Williams and Mardy Fish. At the Australian Open, Djokovic reached his second consecutive Grand Slam final without dropping a set, including a victory over three-time defending champion Federer in the semifinals. By reaching the semifinals, Djokovic became the youngest player to have reached the semifinals in all four Grand Slam events. In the final, Djokovic defeated unseeded Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in four sets to earn his first Grand Slam singles title. This marked the first time since the 2005 Australian Open that a Grand Slam singles title was not won by Federer or Nadal.
Djokovic’s next tournament was the Dubai Tennis Championships, where he lost in the semifinals to Roddick. At the Pacific Life Masters in Indian Wells, Djokovic won his ninth career singles title, needing three sets to defeat American Mardy Fish in the final. Djokovic won his tenth career singles title and fourth Master Series singles crown at the Internazionali d’Italia in Rome after defeating Wawrinka in the final. The following week at the Hamburg Masters, he lost to Nadal in the semifinals. At the French Open, Djokovic was the third-seeded player behind Federer and Nadal. He lost to Nadal in the semifinals in straight sets.
Winning the Masters Cup
On grass, Djokovic once again played Nadal, this time in the Artois Championships final in Queen’s Club, where he lost in two sets. Djokovic entered Wimbledon seeded third but lost in the second round to Safin, ending a streak of five consecutive majors where he had reached at least the semifinals.
Djokovic then failed to defend his 2007 singles title at the Rogers Cup in Toronto — he was eliminated in the quarterfinals by eighth-seeded Andy Murray. The following week at the Cincinnati Masters, Djokovic advanced to the final, beating Nadal. In the final, he again lost to Murray in straight sets. His next tournament was the 2008 Summer Olympics, his first Olympics. He and Nenad Zimonjić, seeded second in men’s doubles, were eliminated in the first round by the Czech pairing of Martin Damm and Pavel Vízner. Seeded third in singles, Djokovic lost in the semifinals to Nadal. Djokovic then defeated James Blake, the loser of the other semifinal, in the bronze medal match.
After the Olympics, Djokovic entered the US Open seeded third, where he defeated Roddick in the quarterfinals. To a smattering of boos in a post-match interview, Djokovic criticized Roddick for accusing him of making excessive use of the trainer during matches. His run at the US Open ended in the semifinals when he lost to Federer in four sets, in a rematch of the previous year’s final. Djokovic went on to play four tournaments after the US Open. At the Thailand Open, he lost to Tsonga in straight sets. In November, Djokovic was the second seed at the year-ending Tennis Masters Cup in Shanghai. In his first round-robin match, he defeated Argentine Juan Martín del Potro in straight sets. He then beat Nikolay Davydenko in three sets, before losing his final round-robin match against Tsonga. Djokovic qualified for the semifinals, where he defeated Gilles Simon. In the final, Djokovic defeated Davydenko to win his first Tennis Masters Cup title.
2009: Ten finals, five titles and emergence of the Big Four
Main article: 2009 Novak Djokovic tennis season
Djokovic started the year at the Brisbane International, where he was upset by Ernests Gulbis in the first round. At the Sydney International, he lost to Jarkko Nieminen in the semifinals. As defending champion at the Australian Open, Djokovic retired from his quarterfinal match with former world No. 1 Andy Roddick.
After losing in the semifinals of the Open 13 tournament in Marseille to Tsonga, Djokovic won the singles title at the Dubai Tennis Championships, defeating Ferrer to claim his twelfth career title. The following week, Djokovic was the defending champion at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, but lost to Roddick in the quarterfinals. At the Sony Ericsson Open in Key Biscayne, Djokovic beat Federer in the semifinals, before losing to Murray in the final.
Djokovic during the 2009 US Open
Djokovic reached the final of the next ATP World Tour Masters 1000 event, the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters on clay, losing to Nadal in the final. At the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome, Djokovic failed to defend the title he had won the previous year, losing in the final.
Djokovic was the top seed at his hometown tournament, the Serbia Open in Belgrade. He defeated first-time finalist Łukasz Kubot to win his second title of the year. As third seed at the Madrid Open, Djokovic advanced to the semifinals without dropping a set. There, he faced Nadal and lost despite holding three match points. The match, at 4 hours and 3 minutes, was the longest three-set singles match on the ATP World Tour in the Open Era. At the French Open, he lost in the third round to German Philipp Kohlschreiber.
Djokovic began his grass court season at the Gerry Weber Open where, after the withdrawal of Federer, he competed as the top seed. He advanced to the final, where he lost to German Tommy Haas. Djokovic lost to Haas in the quarterfinals of Wimbledon.
During the US Open Series, Djokovic made the quarterfinals of the Rogers Cup in Montreal before losing to Roddick. At the Cincinnati Masters, Djokovic defeated third-ranked Nadal in the semifinals before losing in the final to world No. 1 Federer. At the US Open, Djokovic made the semifinals, having dropped only two sets, defeating Ivan Ljubičić, 15th seed Radek Štěpánek and 10th seed Fernando Verdasco before being defeated by Federer.
At the China Open in Beijing, Djokovic defeated Victor Hănescu, Viktor Troicki, Verdasco, and Robin Söderling en route to the final, where he defeated Marin Čilić in straight sets to win his third title of the year. Djokovic then lost in the semifinals of the inaugural Shanghai ATP Masters 1000 to Davydenko. At the Swiss Indoors in Basel, Djokovic defeated Jan Hernych to make it to the quarterfinals, where he recovered from a deficit to defeat Wawrinka before going on to win his semifinal against Štěpánek. In the final, he defeated home favourite and three-time defending champion Federer to win his fourth title of the year. At the last Masters 1000 event of the year at the BNP Paribas Masters in Paris, Djokovic won his first Masters 1000 title of the year by defeating Nadal in the semifinals, before outlasting Gaël Monfils in the final.
Coming into the year-ending ATP World Tour Finals in London as the defending champion, Djokovic defeated Davydenko in his first round-robin match before losing his second match to Söderling. Despite victory over Nadal in his third round-robin match, Djokovic failed to make the semifinals.
Djokovic ended the year as the world No. 3 for the third consecutive year, having played 97 matches, the most of any player on the ATP World Tour, with a 78–19 win-loss record. In addition to leading the ATP World Tour in match wins, he reached a career best ten finals, winning five titles. Djokovic also played a large role in promoting Serbia to the 2009 World Group. On 6–8 March 2010, he played a key role in bringing Serbia to the World Group quarterfinals for the first time in its independent history, winning both singles matches in the home tie against the United States against Sam Querrey and John Isner.
2010: Davis Cup title and US Open runner-up
Main article: 2010 Novak Djokovic tennis season
Djokovic started his year by playing in the AAMI Classic, an exhibition event. In his first match, he defeated Haas before losing to Fernando Verdasco in his second. At the 2010 Australian Open, Djokovic lost a five-setter to Tsonga in the quarterfinals. Despite the loss, he attained a career-high ranking of world No. 2 and went on to reach the semifinals of the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament in Rotterdam, where he lost to Youzhny. At the Dubai Tennis Championships, Djokovic reached the final, this time defeating Youzhny to win his first title of the year.
Djokovic then took part in Serbia’s Davis Cup tie against the United States on clay in Belgrade and helped his country reach its first quarterfinal in the Davis Cup with a 3–2 victory, defeating Querrey and Isner. At the Indian Wells Masters, Djokovic lost in the fourth round to Ljubičić. At the Miami Masters, he lost in his opening match to Olivier Rochus. Djokovic then announced that he had ceased working with Todd Martin as his coach.
In his first clay-court tournament of the year at the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters, top-seeded Djokovic reached the semifinals with wins over Wawrinka and David Nalbandian before losing to Verdasco. Djokovic again lost to Verdasco at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome, this time in the quarterfinals. As the defending champion at his hometown event, the Serbia Open in Belgrade, he withdrew in the quarterfinals while trailing Filip Krajinović.
Djokovic entered the French Open seeded third. He defeated Evgeny Korolev, Kei Nishikori, Victor Hănescu, and Robby Ginepri en route to the quarterfinals, where he lost to Jürgen Melzer in five sets. Djokovic entered Wimbledon as the third seed, defeating Rochus, Taylor Dent, Albert Montañés, Lleyton Hewitt, and Yen-Hsun Lu en route to the semifinals, which he lost to Tomáš Berdych in straight sets.
Djokovic then competed at the Rogers Cup in Toronto, where he lost to Federer in the semifinals. Djokovic also competed in doubles with Nadal in a one-time, high-profile partnership. This had not happened since 1976, when Jimmy Connors and Arthur Ashe as world No. 1 and No. 2 paired together as a doubles team. They lost in the first round to Canadians Milos Raonic and Vasek Pospisil. Djokovic then lost to Roddick in the quarterfinals of the Cincinnati Masters.
Djokovic at the 2010 US Open
As the third seed at the US Open, Djokovic came very close to losing in his opening round against Viktor Troicki in extreme heat. He then defeated Philipp Petzschner, James Blake, Mardy Fish, and number 17 seed Gaël Monfils, all in straight sets, to reach the US Open semifinals for the fourth consecutive year. There, he defeated Federer in five sets after saving two match points with forehand winners while serving to stay in the match at 4–5 in the 5th set. It was Djokovic’s first victory over Federer at the US Open in four attempts, and his first victory over Federer in a Major since the 2008 Australian Open. Djokovic went on to lose to Nadal in the final, a match that saw Nadal complete his career Grand Slam.
After helping Serbia defeat the Czech Republic 3–2 to make it to the Davis Cup final, Djokovic competed at the China Open as the top seed and defending champion. He won the title for the second successive year, after defeating Maoxin Gong, Mardy Fish (walkover), Gilles Simon, and John Isner en route to the final. Djokovic then defeated Ferrer in the final. At the Shanghai Masters, Djokovic made a semifinal appearance, losing to Federer. Djokovic played his final tournament of the year at the ATP World Tour Finals in London. Djokovic was placed in Group A along with Nadal, Berdych, and Roddick. Djokovic won his first round-robin match against Berdych. He next lost to Nadal. He defeated Roddick in his final round-robin match and advanced to the semifinals, where he lost to Federer in two sets.
Djokovic went on to win his two singles rubbers in Serbia’s Davis Cup finals victory over France. This started a long unbeaten run that went on into 2011. Djokovic finished the year ranked world No. 3, his fourth successive finish at this position. He was awarded the title “Serbian Sportsman of the year” by the Olympic Committee of Serbia and “Serbian Athlete of the year” by DSL Sport.
Serbia progressed to the Davis Cup final, following the victories over Croatia (4–1) and the Czech Republic (3–2). Serbia came from 1–2 down to defeat France in the final tie 3–2 in Belgrade to win the nation’s first Davis Cup Championship. In the final, Djokovic scored two singles points for Serbia, defeating Gilles Simon and Gaël Monfils. He was the backbone of the Serbian squad, going 7–0 in singles rubbers to lead the nation to the title, although the honour of winning the deciding rubber in the final went to compatriot Viktor Troicki.
2011: Three majors, five masters & ascent to No. 1
Main article: 2011 Novak Djokovic tennis season
Novak Djokovic celebrates his 2011 Wimbledon semifinal win over Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. Victory meant that Djokovic successfully clinched the ATP world No. 1 Ranking for the first time in his career on 1 July 2011. He also reached his first ever Wimbledon final, which he eventually won.
Djokovic celebrates upon defeating Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and clinching the world No. 1 ranking following his victory in the semifinals of the 2011 Wimbledon Championships.
Djokovic won ten tournaments in 2011, including Grand Slam tournament victories at the Australian Open, Wimbledon and the US Open. Djokovic also captured a record-breaking five ATP World Tour Masters 1000 titles, and set a new record for the most prize money won in a single season on the ATP World Tour ($12 million). His level dropped at season’s end beginning with a back injury and ended with a poor showing at the ATP World Tour Finals. Djokovic finished the season with a 70–6 record and a year-end ranking of world No. 1.
Pete Sampras declared Djokovic’s 2011 season as the best he has ever seen in his lifetime, calling it “one of the best achievements in all of sports.” Boris Becker called Djokovic’s season “one of the very best years in tennis of all time”, adding that it “may not be the best statistically, but he’s beaten Federer, he’s beaten Nadal, he’s beaten everybody that came around to challenge him in the biggest tournaments in the world.” Rafael Nadal, who lost to Djokovic in six finals on three different surfaces, described Djokovic’s performances as “probably the highest level of tennis that I ever saw.” Djokovic was named 2011 ITF World Champion. He also received the Golden Bagel Award by winning 13 sets with the result of 6–0 during the season.
In the semifinals of the 2011 Davis Cup, Djokovic played a crucial rubber match for Serbia against Juan Martín del Potro of Argentina, where he retired while trailing, after reaggravating a back injury sustained during the US Open tournament. This secured Argentina’s place in the final. This marked Djokovic’s third loss of his 2011 season, and his second retirement.
2012: Fifth major, three masters & return to No. 1
Main article: 2012 Novak Djokovic tennis season
Djokovic began his season by winning the 2012 Australian Open. He won his first four rounds against Paolo Lorenzi, Santiago Giraldo, Nicolas Mahut and Lleyton Hewitt, respectively. In the quarterfinals he defeated David Ferrer in three sets. In the semifinal, Djokovic beat Murray in five sets after 4 hours and 50 minutes, coming back from a two-sets-to-one deficit and fending off break points at 5-all in the fifth set. In the final, Djokovic beat Nadal in five sets, coming from a break down in the final set to win 7–5. At 5 hours and 53 minutes, the match was the longest final in Open Era Grand Slam history, as well as the longest match in Australian Open history, surpassing the 5-hour and 14-minute 2009 semifinal between Nadal and Fernando Verdasco.
Djokovic reached his first French Open final in 2012.
Djokovic was beaten by John Isner in the semifinals at Indian Wells. He successfully defended his title in Miami. In the Monte Carlo final, he lost in straight sets to Nadal, unable to prevent Nadal from earning his record-breaking eighth consecutive title there. Djokovic also lost in straight sets to Nadal at the Rome Masters 2012 final.
Djokovic reached his maiden French Open final in 2012 by defeating Federer, reaching the finals of all four majors consecutively. Djokovic had the chance to become the first man since Rod Laver in 1969 to hold all four major titles at once, having won last year’s Wimbledon and US Open titles as well as this year’s Australian Open, but was beaten by Nadal in the final in four sets. Following the French Open, Djokovic was unsuccessful in defending his Wimbledon title from the prior year, losing to Roger Federer in four sets in the semifinals.
At the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, Djokovic was chosen as the flag bearer for Serbia. On 2 August 2012, Djokovic defeated French fifth seed Tsonga and advanced to the semifinals of Olympics, where he was beaten by Murray in straight sets. In the bronze medal match he lost to Del Potro, finishing 4th. He successively defended his Rogers Cup title, dropping just a single set to Tommy Haas. Following the Rogers Cup, Djokovic would make the finals of the Cincinnati Masters but lost to Roger Federer in straight sets.
At the US Open on 9 September, Djokovic reached his third consecutive final at Flushing Meadows by beating fourth-seeded David Ferrer in a match suspended a day earlier due to rain. He then lost the final to Murray in five sets. Djokovic went on to defend his China Open title, defeating Tsonga in straight sets. The following week he won the Shanghai Masters by defeating Murray in the final. With Federer’s withdrawal from the Paris Masters, Djokovic was guaranteed to regain his world No. 1 ranking. On 12 November 2012, Djokovic won the 2012 ATP World Tour Finals by defeating Federer in the final. Because of his achievements in the 2012 season, Djokovic was named the 2012 ITF World Champion in men’s singles by the International Tennis Federation.
2013: Fourth Australian Open title & three masters
Main article: 2013 Novak Djokovic tennis season
Djokovic began the 2013 season by defeating Murray in the final of the 2013 Australian Open to win a record third consecutive Australian Open trophy and the sixth major of his career. A week later, he participated in a Davis Cup match against Belgium, where he defeated Olivier Rochus in straight sets to give the Serbian team a 2–0 lead.
On 2 March 2013, Djokovic won the thirty-sixth professional single’s title of his career by defeating Tomáš Berdych in the final of the Dubai Tennis Championships. Another solid week of tennis saw Djokovic reach the semifinals at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, before losing to del Potro, bringing an end to his twenty-two match winning streak. The following week, Djokovic went into the Miami Masters as defending champion, but lost in the fourth round to Tommy Haas in straight sets.
In April, Djokovic played for Serbia as the country faced the United States in the Davis Cup quarterfinals. Djokovic clinched the tie for his team by defeating John Isner and Sam Querrey. Later that month, he defeated eight-time champion Nadal in straight sets in the final of the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters to clinch his first title in Monte Carlo. In May, he was defeated by Grigor Dimitrov in three sets in the second round of the Mutua Madrid Open in Madrid. The following week, he lost to Berdych at the quarterfinal stage of the Rome Masters.
Djokovic began his French Open campaign with a straight three sets win over David Goffin in the first round and also defeated Guido Pella in straight sets in the second round. In the third round, Djokovic defeated Dimitrov in three sets. In the fourth round he came back from a set down and defeated Philipp Kohlschreiber of Germany in four sets and in the process he had reached a 16th consecutive Grand Slam quarterfinal. Djokovic then lost to Nadal in the semifinal in five sets.
In the finals of the 2013 Wimbledon Championships, Djokovic lost to Murray in straight sets. At the Rogers Cup, he lost to Nadal in the semifinal in three sets. Later, Djokovic lost to Isner in the quarterfinals in Cincinnati. Djokovic went on to reach the US Open final, where he met Nadal for the 37th time in his career (a new open era record). He went on to lose in four sets. In early October, Djokovic collected his fourth Beijing title by defeating Nadal in the final in straight sets. He also collected his second Shanghai Rolex Masters title, extending his winning streak to 20–0 over the last 2 seasons at the hard court Asian swing of the tour. Djokovic won his 16 Masters 1000 title in Paris at the end of the season, beating David Ferrer in the final. At the 2013 ATP World Tour Finals Djokovic retained the trophy, beating Nadal in straight sets.
2014: Second Wimbledon title, four masters & return to No. 1
Main article: 2014 Novak Djokovic tennis season
Djokovic began the year with a warmup tournament win, the 2013 Mubadala World Tennis Championship. At the Australian Open, he won his first four matches in straight sets, against Lukáš Lacko, Leonardo Mayer, Denis Istomin and number 15 seed Fabio Fognini respectively. He met Wawrinka in the quarterfinals of the tournament, the second consecutive year the two had met at the event. Despite coming back from two sets to one down, Djokovic fell 9–7 in the fifth set, ending his 25–match winning streak in Melbourne, as well as his streak of 14 consecutive Grand Slam tournament semifinals. The week of 27 January marked the first time since 2011 that Djokovic has not been a Grand Slam title holder.
Djokovic also would play in the Dubai Tennis Championships but lost to eventual champion Roger Federer in the semifinals. However, Djokovic would avenge his loss to Federer, winning his third Indian Wells Masters title, beating Federer in the final. Continuing his good run, he beat world No. 1 Nadal in the final of the Miami Masters in straight sets. Suffering from a wrist injury which hampered him throughout the Monte-Carlo Masters, Djokovic lost the semifinals to Federer in straight sets. After returning from injury, Djokovic won his third Rome title by beating Nadal in the final of the Italian Open. He subsequently donated the $500,000 in prize money that he had received to the victims of the 2014 Southeast Europe floods.
Djokovic reached the final of the French Open losing only two sets in six matches, but lost in the final to Nadal in four sets. It was Djokovic’s first defeat in the last 5 matches between both. At the Wimbledon Championships Djokovic defeated Roger Federer in the final in five sets. With this victory he replaced Rafael Nadal again as the world number one. Djokovic played at the Rogers Cup, losing to eventual first-time champion Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in straight sets. He followed that with a loss to Tommy Robredo at the Cincinnati Masters. At the US Open, Djokovic reached the semifinals, where he lost in four sets to Kei Nishikori.
Djokovic returned to Beijing with a fifth trophy in six years, defeating Murray in the semifinal and Berdych in the final. The following week he was beaten by Federer in the semifinal of Shanghai Masters. He then won the Paris Bercy masters title, without losing a single set, beating Raonic in the final.
In the world tour finals, Djokovic created a record by winning three round robin matches with a loss of just nine games. By reaching the semifinal, he also secured the year-end number 1 ranking for the third time, tying him with Nadal at fifth position. He was awarded the World Tour Finals trophy after Federer withdrew before the finals. This marked the 7th title of the season for him and the 4th title at the World Tour Finals.
2015: Three majors, six masters, eleven titles & ranking points record
Main article: 2015 Novak Djokovic tennis season
Djokovic during his match against Jarkko Nieminen at the 2015 French Open
Djokovic began the season at the Qatar Open in Doha, where he won his first two rounds for the loss of just 6 games, however lost in the quarterfinals against Ivo Karlović in three tight sets. He rebounded from this defeat well at the Australian Open, where he made it through the first five rounds without dropping a set. In the semifinals he faced defending champion Stan Wawrinka, the man who beat him the previous year. He twice lost a set lead, however came roaring back in the fifth to take it to love, and set up a third final against Andy Murray. After splitting the first two sets in tiebreakers, Djokovic suddenly found his form after dropping his serve at the start of the third set, going on to win 12 of the last 13 games to record a four set victory over the Scot, and win an Open Era record-breaking fifth title in Melbourne, overtaking Roger Federer and Andre Agassi. He moved into equal eighth on the all-time list of men with the most Major titles, tying Agassi, Ivan Lendl, Jimmy Connors, Ken Rosewall and Fred Perry.
He next competed at the Dubai Tennis Championships and lost to Roger Federer in the final. After 2 weeks, Djokovic defeated John Isner and Andy Murray en route to his 21st Masters 1000 title, beating Federer in three sets in Indian Wells. In Miami, he defeated David Ferrer and John Isner en route to winning his fifth title defeating Andy Murray in three sets. With his 22nd Masters title, Djokovic became the first player to complete the Indian Wells – Miami title sweep three times. In April, Djokovic clinched his second Monte-Carlo Masters by beating Tomas Berdych in the final. Djokovic withdrew from the 2015 Madrid Masters. He won the title for the fourth time at the Rome Masters, making it 4 out of 4 titles in Masters 1000 events entered by Djokovic in 2015.
He continued his good form on clay at the French Open, by reaching the final without dropping a set in the first five rounds, including a quarterfinal clash with Nadal and a five set semifinal victory over No. 3 seed Andy Murray which took two days to complete. This meant he became only the second man to have won against Nadal at the French Open. However, he lost the next match and the tournament to No. 8 seed Stan Wawrinka in four sets, after having prevailed in the first set and being up a break in the fourth set and up 40–0 on Wawrinka’s serve in a subsequent game. He lost six of the final seven games of the match. With this loss, Djokovic was denied his first victory at the French Open and a personal career Grand Slam. Five weeks later, he rebounded again from a tough loss in Paris, just like 2014, coming from two sets down to beat Kevin Anderson in the fourth round, and then going on to claim his third Wimbledon title in his fourth final at the All England Club, with a four set win over Roger Federer.
Prior to the final Grand Slam event of the year, Djokovic had the chance to become the first man in history to complete the full set of Masters 1000 titles in Cincinnati, and reached the final for the fifth time, however he was once again beaten by Federer, making it a fifth straight defeat in a Cincinnati final. At the 2015 US Open, Djokovic reached the final for the sixth time in his career, achieving the feat of reaching all four grand slam finals in a single calendar year. In the final of the tournament, he faced Federer once again, defeating him in four sets to win his third grand slam title of the year, his second title at Flushing Meadows, and his tenth career Grand Slam singles title, becoming the fifth man in the Open Era to win ten or more Grand Slam singles titles, as well as only the third man to reach all four Major finals in a calendar year.
He returned to Beijing in October, winning the title for the sixth time, defeating Nadal in straight sets in the final to bring his overall record at the tournament to 29–0. Djokovic then reached the final of the Paris Masters, where he defeated Murray in straight sets, taking his fourth title there and a record sixth ATP Masters 1000 tournament in one year. After losing to Federer in the round-robin stage of the 2015 ATP World Tour Finals he took on the third seed again in the final. He beat Federer in straight sets winning his fifth World Tour Finals title and he became the first player to win four consecutive end-of-year finals tournaments.
2016: Nole Slam, four masters, new ranking points record
Main article: 2016 Novak Djokovic tennis season
Djokovic collected his 60th career title in Doha, defeating Nadal in two sets in a final that lasted 73 minutes. He broke his own ATP ranking points record, bringing it up to 16,790. Djokovic then proceeded to win his sixth Australian Open. On his road to his Open Era record sixth title in Melbourne, he defeated Roger Federer in four sets in the semifinals, and in a rematch of the 2015 final, he defeated Andy Murray, in three straight sets. He quickly rebounded from an eye infection at the Dubai open to collect a fifth Indian Wells Masters title, defeating Rafael Nadal in the semifinals, and Milos Raonic in the final. Djokovic’s dominant run resulted in a situation, where Nos. 2 and 3 (Andy Murray and Roger Federer) could combine their points and still not have enough to pass Djokovic.
On 3 April 2016, Djokovic won the 2016 Miami Open for the third consecutive year, and did so without dropping a set en route to his sixth career Miami Open title, tying him with Andre Agassi for most ever Miami Open men’s singles titles. In addition, 2016 marked the third consecutive year that Djokovic swept both Indian Wells and the Miami Open, the first male singles player to ever do that. This was also the fourth time in his career Djokovic won both Miami and Indian Wells back-to-back. His finals win in Miami saw Novak extend his lead in the rankings over world number 2 Andy Murray to 8,725 points, and surpassed Roger Federer to become the all-time leading prize money winner on the ATP tour with career earnings of $98.2 million. After an early round exit at the Monte Carlo Masters, Djokovic quickly bounced back by winning the Madrid title for the second time in his career with a three set victory over Murray. They met again in the Rome Masters final one week later with Murray the victor, despite a sluggish performance, Djokovic defeated Nadal and Nishikori in two long quarterfinals and semifinals.
Djokovic defeated Andy Murray in the final of the 2016 French Open in four sets, making him the reigning champion of all four major tournaments, a historic feat the media dubbed the “Nole Slam.” With his French Open triumph, Djokovic became the 8th player in history (and the second oldest) to achieve a Career Grand Slam, the third player in history to hold all four Grand Slam titles at the same time, and the first player to win $100 million in prize money. However, at Wimbledon, his major win streak came to an end in the third-round when he lost to American Sam Querrey in four sets. It was his earliest exit in a Grand Slam since the 2009 French Open.
In late July, Djokovic returned to form by winning his fourth Rogers cup title, and 30th Masters 1000 title overall, without dropping a set. In August, Novak is beaten in the first round of the Olympic men’s singles in Rio de Janeiro by Juan Martín del Potro. It was Djokovic’s first opening round defeat since January 2009, when Ernest Gulbis defeated him at the 2009 Brisbane International. In the final slam of the year, the US Open, Djokovic advanced to the final but was defeated by Stan Wawrinka in four sets. Djokovic was defeated by Roberto Bautista Agut and Marin Cilic in the semifinals and quarterfinals in Shanghai and Paris. As a result of this, he lost the No. 1 ranking to Andy Murray. However, a runner-up finish at the World Tour Finals indicated his best performances in nearly three months.
Main article: 2017 Novak Djokovic tennis season
In January, Djokovic defended his title in Doha defeating new world no.1 Andy Murray in three sets. At the 2017 Australian Open, he was upset in the second round by world no. 117 Denis Istomin of Uzbekistan. This was the first time since 2007 that Djokovic had failed to reach the quarterfinals at the Australian Open, and the first time ever in his career that he had lost to a player ranked outside of the top 100 in a Grand Slam tournament. In February and March, Djokovic played at the Mexican Open and the Indian Well Masters, but in both events was eliminated by Nick Kyrgios in third and fourth round, respectively. In April, Djokovic reached the quarterfinals of the Monte-Carlo Masters, losing to David Goffin. A better showing at the Madrid masters show him reach the semifinals, losing to a very in-from Nadal in straight sets. A runner-up at the Rome masters indicated solid improvements in his form. At the 2017 French Open he lost in the quarterfinals to Dominic Thiem.
Djokovic vs. Nadal
Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal during the 2011 US Open final
Djokovic and Nadal have met 50 times, an Open Era record for head-to-head meetings between (male) players, and Djokovic currently leads 26–24. Nadal leads on grass 2–1 and clay 15–7, while Djokovic leads on hard courts 18–7. This rivalry is listed as the third greatest rivalry in the last decade by ATPworldtour.com. Djokovic is the first player to have at least ten match wins against Nadal and the only person to defeat Nadal seven times consecutively (which he did twice). The two share the record for the longest Grand Slam final match ever played (5 hours and 53 minutes), which was the 2012 Australian Open final.
In the 2011 Wimbledon final, Djokovic won in four sets, which was his first victory over Nadal in a Major. By doing so, he became the only person other than Federer to defeat Nadal in a Grand Slam tournament final. Djokovic also defeated Nadal in the 2011 US Open Final to capture his third major title of the year and fourth overall. By beating Nadal, Djokovic became the second player to defeat Nadal in more than one Grand Slam final (the other being Federer), and the first player to beat Nadal in a Slam final on a surface other than grass (Wawrinka beat Nadal in Australian open final in 2014). In 2012, Djokovic defeated Nadal in the Australian Open final which made Nadal the first player to lose in three consecutive Grand Slam finals.
At the 2012 Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters in April, Nadal finally beat Djokovic for the first time since November 2010. They had met in seven finals from January 2011 to January 2012, all of which Djokovic won. In the final at Monte Carlo, an in-form Nadal crushed Djokovic. Nadal again defeated Djokovic in the final of the Rome Masters tournament.
At the 2012 French Open, Djokovic faced Nadal in the final. For the second time in tennis history, two opposing tennis players played four consecutive Grand Slams finals against each other. They also became the only players in history, except for Venus and Serena Williams, to have faced the same opponent in the finals of each of the four different Grand Slam events. Nadal eventually won in four sets after multiple rain delays that forced the final to be concluded on the following Monday afternoon.
In 2013, Djokovic defeated Nadal in straight sets in the final of the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters to clinch his first title in Monte Carlo. This was his third clay win against Nadal. At the 2013 French Open semifinal, Nadal defeated Djokovic to up his record to 20–15 against Djokovic, and again at the 2013 Rogers Cup semifinal. On 9 September 2013, Djokovic lost to Nadal in the 2013 US Open finals in four sets. In 2014, Djokovic defeated Nadal in 3 sets at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia Masters 1000 tournament in Rome to claim his 3rd title there. At the 2014 French Open, they played in the final, with Djokovic attempting to capture the Career Grand Slam. Nadal won in four sets to capture the French Open for the ninth time.
At the 2015 French Open, Djokovic finally defeated nine-time champion and five-time consecutive defending champion at Roland Garros, thus ending Nadal’s 39-match win streak at the French Open. He became only the second man in history to have defeated Nadal at the tournament (after Robin Soderling in 2009), and the first to do so in straight sets.
Djokovic vs. Federer
Djokovic and Federer at the 2013 ATP World Tour Finals.
Djokovic and Federer have faced each other 45 times (not including one occasion when there was a walkover in favour of Djokovic), and Djokovic currently leads 23–22. They are split 4–4 on clay, split 17–17 on hard court, whereas Djokovic leads on grass 2–1. Djokovic is the only player other than Nadal who has defeated Federer in consecutive Grand Slam tournament matches. Federer ended Djokovic’s 41-match winning start to the 2011 season at the 2011 French Open semifinals. However, Federer would lose to Djokovic in the following year in straight sets. Djokovic played Federer in his first Major final at the 2007 US Open and lost in three sets.
Djokovic has the second-most wins against Federer (after Nadal). The two had three encounters at the Australian Open (in 2007, 2008, and 2011), which Federer won in straight sets in 2007 and Djokovic won in straight sets in the other two. The two have met five years in a row at the US Open with Federer triumphant in their first three encounters, while their last two meetings (in 2010 and 2011) were five-set matches in which Djokovic saved two match points before going on to win. On 6 July 2012, Djokovic lost to Federer in the Wimbledon semifinal. On 12 November 2012, Djokovic won the 2012 ATP World Tour Finals by defeating Roger Federer in straight sets in the final. The two met again during the finals of the 2014 Wimbledon Championships with Djokovic emerging victorious after a 5 set match and with the victory reclaiming the world number one spot from Nadal. Federer withdrew from the 2014 ATP World Tour final and Djokovic successfully defended his title, the first walkover in a final in the tournament’s 45-year history. In the 2015 Wimbledon Championships, despite “an extraordinary second-set tiebreaker in which Federer saved seven set points to level the match” at 1–1, Djokovic went on to claim a 3–1 victory and even the lifetime record between the two players. The two met again in another Grand Slam final in 2015, this time at the 2015 US Open, where Djokovic defeated Federer in 4 tight sets to claim his second US Open title and tenth Grand Slam.
The two would also meet in the 2016 Australian Open semifinals, where Djokovic played virtually flawless tennis in the first two sets to eventually claim a 6–1, 6–2, 3–6, 6–3 victory en route to capturing a record 6th Australian Open and his 11th Grand Slam title.
Djokovic vs. Murray
Djokovic and Andy Murray have met 35 times with Djokovic leading 24–11. Djokovic leads 5–1 on clay, 19–8 on hard courts, and Murray leads 2–0 on grass. The two are almost exactly the same age, with Murray being a week older than Djokovic. They went to training camp together, and Murray won the first match they ever played as teenagers. The pair have met 17 times in finals, and Djokovic leads 10–7. Nine of the finals were ATP Masters 1000 finals, with Djokovic ahead 5–4. Their most notable match in this category was a three set thriller at the final of the 2012 Shanghai Masters, in which Murray held five championship point opportunities in the second set; however, Djokovic saved each of them, forcing a deciding set. He eventually prevailed to win his first Shanghai Masters title, ending Murray’s 12–0 winning streak at the event. This, and the three set match they played in Rome in 2011, were voted the ATP World Tour Match of the Year, for each respective season. They have also met in seven Grand Slam tournament finals: The 2011 Australian Open, the 2012 US Open, the 2013 Australian Open, the 2013 Wimbledon Championships, the 2015 Australian Open, the 2016 Australian Open and most recently, the 2016 French Open. Djokovic has won in Australia four times and won at the French Open, while it was Murray who emerged the victor at the US Open and Wimbledon.
Djokovic and Murray also played an almost five-hour-long semifinal match in the 2012 Australian Open, which Djokovic won 7–5 in the fifth set after Murray led two sets to one. Murray and Djokovic met again in 2012 at the London 2012 Olympic Games, with Murray winning in straight sets. The two met in the final of the 2013 Wimbledon Championships, where second seed Murray defeated Djokovic in straight sets, the first time since 2010 that Djokovic had failed to win a set in a Grand Slam match. In the final of the 2015 Paris Masters, Djokovic triumphed in two sets and became the first man to win six Masters tournaments in one season. At the 2016 Australian Open final, in a rematch of the previous final, Djokovic won in three sets and captured his sixth Australian Open title.
In the 2016 clay court season, Djokovic and Murray met in the final of the 2016 Mutua Madrid Open, where Djokovic captured his record breaking 29th Masters 1000 title in three sets. One week later, however, Murray comfortably beat Djokovic in straight sets in the 2016 Internazionali BNL d’Italia final, denying Djokovic his 30th Masters 1000 crown and interrupting his path to becoming the first player to break through the 100 million dollar prize money mark. At the apex of the clay court season, the 2016 French Open, Djokovic and Murray met once again at the final. Despite losing the first set 3–6, Djokovic went on to win the next three sets 6–1, 6–2, 6–4 and claim his maiden French Open title. This win completed Djokovic’s Career Grand Slam and denied Murray his first French Open title.
Djokovic vs. Wawrinka
In this matchup Djokovic leads 19–5, however the two have contested numerous close matches, including four five-setters at Grand Slam level. Wawrinka and Djokovic have played three consecutive Australian Open years, each match going to five sets, and a five-setter in the US Open: in the 2013 Australian Open fourth round, which Djokovic won 12–10 in a fifth set; at the 2013 US Open semifinals, which Djokovic won 6–4 in a fifth set; and at the 2014 Australian Open quarterfinals, which Wawrinka won 9–7 in a close fifth set. Wawrinka’s win broke Djokovic’s impressive run of 14 consecutive semifinals in Grand Slam play, ended a 28-match winning streak, and prevented Djokovic from capturing a record fifth Australian Open crown. Djokovic got revenge in the 2015 Australian Open, winning 6–0 in the fifth set, but again it went the distance. At the 2015 French Open final, Wawrinka defeated Djokovic in four sets to claim his second major title. In 2015, Djokovic defeated Wawrinka at the Paris Masters. At the 2016 US Open, Wawrinka beat Djokovic in a Grand Slam final for the second time. Suffering from a foot injury for the latter stages of the match, Djokovic lost in four sets. He did not attribute his loss to the injury, but rather to Wawrinka’s courageous play at decisive moments in the match. Contrary to most high-profile rivalries, they have played doubles together.
Despite Djokovic’s 19–5 overall record against Wawrinka, Wawrinka leads Djokovic 2–0 in Grand Slam finals and 3–2 in all ATP finals. During Djokovic’s run of eight appearances at Grand Slam finals from 2014 Wimbledon through the 2016 US Open, his only two losses came at the hands of Wawrinka. Moreover, in Djokovic’s 21 Grand Slam championship matches, Wawrinka is the only opponent he has not defeated and the only opponent outside the Big Four who has defeated him.
Djokovic vs. Tsonga
Djokovic and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga have met 22 times with Djokovic leading 16–6. Their first meeting was in the final of the 2008 Australian Open; Djokovic and Tsonga had defeated the top two players, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal in their respective semifinals in straight sets. Djokovic won this match in 4 sets to win his first Grand Slam singles title.
Their next meeting at a Grand Slam event was again at the Australian Open, in the 2010 quarterfinals, exactly two years to the day since Djokovic defeated Tsonga to win his first Grand Slam singles title. However, this time it was Tsonga who prevailed, winning in five sets after Djokovic fell ill during the match. It wouldn’t be until another year-and-a-half until they met again, with the stakes even higher – in the semifinals at Wimbledon in 2011, with the winner advancing to his first Wimbledon final. It was their first meeting on grass, and Djokovic prevailed in four sets to advance to his first Wimbledon final, and in the process ending the seven-and-a-half-year reign of Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal at the top of the rankings. At the 2012 French Open, Djokovic and Tsonga met again in an important quarterfinals match, with Djokovic prevailing in five sets after more than four hours of play.
They met again two months later at the Olympics, with Djokovic winning in straight sets in the quarterfinals. They met in the final of the 2012 China Open, with Djokovic once again victorious in straight sets. The pair were drawn in the same pool for the 2012 ATP World Tour Finals. Djokovic defeated Tsonga in his first (of three) round robin matches. It was Djokovic’s fifth win over Tsonga in 2012.
Their most recent Grand Slam tournament meeting was in the quarter-finals of the 2016 US Open. Djokovic won after Tsonga retired while two sets to love down.
Place among the all-time greats
Following his tremendous success in the 2011 season, Djokovic began to feature on all-time greatest lists. In late 2011, Rod Laver chose Djokovic as number six in his top ten male players of the Open Era. According to Tim Henman’s June 2012 statement, Djokovic is “probably a top eight player in tennis history”. Andre Agassi stated in September 2012 that Federer, Nadal and Djokovic “may very well be the greatest three players to ever play tennis”. In his September 2013 men’s greatest players of all-time list, International Business Times’ writer Jason Le Miere put the Serb in seventh place.
In April 2015, Henman offered another comment on Djokovic’s standing among the all-time greats, saying “it’s only a matter of time before he is considered alongside Federer and Nadal as one of the greatest players of all time”. Having proclaimed him “one of the all-time greats” in November 2014, John McEnroe put Djokovic in all-time top five following his 2015 Wimbledon win, Djokovic’s ninth Grand Slam tournament title: “My top four are Laver, Sampras, Roger and Nadal but Novak is at number five and rising”. Andrew Castle stated in January 2016 that Djokovic is “undoubtedly moving towards being considered the sport’s all-time greatest player”. In June 2016, a panel of more than forty ESPN experts ranked Djokovic as number eight on their top twenty all-time combined list of both male and female tennis players; he was number five among the males, behind Federer, Laver, Sampras, and Borg.
Djokovic is widely considered to be one of the greatest returners in the history of the sport, an accolade given to him even by Andre Agassi, who was considered to be the best returner ever. Though staying clear of best ever conversations, tennis coach Nick Bollettieri has continually been praising Djokovic as the “most complete player ever” and the “most perfect player of all time”:
When you look at match players in the history of tennis, I don’t believe that anybody can equal everything on the court that Djokovic does. I don’t think you can find a weakness in his game. His movement, personality, his return of serve, his serve, excellent touch, not hesitant in coming to the net, great serve. Over all, almost every player has a downfall; to me he doesn’t have one. He’s perhaps the best put-together player that I’ve seen over 60 years.
Tennis pundits have classified many of Djokovic’s matches as some of the greatest contests ever, with the 2012 Australian Open final being considered the greatest match ever seen, as a testament to his greatness as a tennis player. Some longtime analysts claim that the Djokovic-Nadal rivalry ranks as the best rivalry in tennis history primarily because of the quality of matches they produce.
Playing style & equipment
Djokovic is an all-court player with emphasis on aggressive baseline play. His groundstrokes from both wings are consistent, deep, and penetrating. His backhand is widely regarded as one of the best in today’s game. His best shot is his backhand down the line, with great pace and precision. He is also known as one of the greatest movers on the court with superior agility, court coverage and defensive ability, which allows him to hit winners from seemingly defensive positions. After great technical difficulties during the 2009 season (coinciding with his switch to the Head racket series), his serve is one of his major weapons again, winning him many free points; his first serve is typically hit flat, while he prefers to slice and kick his second serves wide.
Djokovic serving at the 2013 French Open.
Djokovic’s return of serve is a powerful weapon for him, with which he can be both offensive and defensive. Djokovic is rarely aced because of his flexibility, length and balance. Djokovic is highly efficient off both the forehand and backhand return, often getting the return in play deep with pace, neutralizing the advantage the server usually has in a point. John McEnroe considers Djokovic to be the greatest returner of serve in the history of the men’s game. Occasionally, Djokovic employs a well-disguised backhand underspin drop shot and sliced backhand.
Djokovic commented on the modern style of play, including his own, in interview with Jim Courier after his semifinal win against Andy Murray in the 2012 Australian Open tournament:
I had a big privilege and honour to meet personally today Mr. Laver, and he is one of the biggest, and greatest players ever to play the game, thank you for staying this late, sir, thank you … even though it would actually be better if we played a couple times serve and volley, but we don’t know to play … we are mostly around here [points to the area near the baseline], we are running, you know, around the baseline …
Entering the pro circuit, Djokovic used the Head Liquidmetal Radical, but changed sponsors to Wilson in 2005. He couldn’t find a Wilson racquet he liked, so Wilson agreed to make him a custom racquet to match his previous one with Head. After the 2008 season, Djokovic re-signed with Head, and debuted a new paint job of the Head YouTek Speed Pro at the 2009 Australian Open. He then switched to the Head YouTek IG Speed (18×20) paint job in 2011, and in 2013, he again updated his paint job to the Head Graphene Speed Pro, which included an extensive promotional campaign. Djokovic uses a hybrid of Head Natural Gut (gauge 16) in the mains and Luxilon Big Banger ALU Power Rough (gauge 16L) in the crosses. He also uses Head Synthetic Leather Grip as a replacement grip. In 2012, Djokovic appeared in a television commercial with Maria Sharapova promoting the use of Head rackets for many techniques such as golf and ten-pin bowling.
In assessing Djokovic’s 2011 season, Jimmy Connors said that Djokovic gives his opponents problems by playing “a little bit old-school, taking the ball earlier, catching the ball on the rise, (and) driving the ball flat.” Connors adds that a lot of the topspin that Djokovic’s opponents drive at him comes right into his zone, thus his ability to turn defence into offence well.
Coaching, diet, and personal team
In the period 2004 and 2005, Djokovic was coached by Dejan Petrovic. From fall 2005 until June 2006, he was coached by Riccardo Piatti who divided his time between the 18-year-old and Ivan Ljubičić. Player and coach reportedly parted ways over the latter’s refusal to work full-time with Djokovic.
From June 2006 until May 2017, Djokovic was coached by Slovakian former professional tennis player Marián Vajda. They met for the first time during that year’s French Open, after which Vajda got hired to be the 19-year-old’s coach. On occasion Djokovic employed additional coaches on part-time basis: in 2007, during the spring hardcourt season, he worked with Australian doubles ace Mark Woodforde with specific emphasis on volleys and net play while from August 2009 until April 2010 American Todd Martin joined the coaching team, a period marked by his ill-fated attempt to change Djokovic’s serve motion. From early 2007 until 2017, Djokovic worked with physiotherapist Miljan Amanović, who was previously employed by Red Star Belgrade, and NBA player Vladimir Radmanović.
From the fall 2006, Djokovic had an Israeli fitness coach, Ronen Bega, but the two parted ways during spring 2009 since Djokovic decided to make a change after identifying his conditioning as a weakness in his game following continual losses to Nadal. In April 2009, ahead of the Rome Masters, Djokovic hired Austrian Gebhard Phil-Gritsch (formerly worked with Thomas Muster) to join the team in fitness coach capacity.
In July 2010, before the Davis Cup clash away at Croatia, Djokovic made another addition to his team – nutritionist Igor Četojević who additionally focuses on Chinese medicine and does acupuncture. He allegedly discovered that the tennis player suffers from gluten intolerance, using applied kinesiology, and that he cannot eat gluten, purging it from his diet. It appeared to have worked as Djokovic began feeling stronger, quicker, and much more fit. He eventually settled on a vegan diet. He later added the occasional consumption of fish to his dietary regimen. After Djokovic’s Wimbledon win in July 2011, Četojević left the team. A Wall Street Journal article noted, “He had an otherworldly season in 2011 and has been the world’s most consistent player since. His devotion to his diet has only gotten stronger. (In 2016) he opened a vegan restaurant in Monte Carlo, where he lives.”
After retiring from professional tennis in August 2011, Serbian player Dušan Vemić joined Djokovic’s team as assistant coach and hitting partner for Novak. The collaboration ended before the 2013 US Open.
Six-time major champion and former world No. 1 Boris Becker, who had mostly worked as television pundit for BBC Sport and Sky Sports since retiring from playing in 1999, was announced as Djokovic’s new head coach in December 2013. According to Djokovic, the Becker appointment was done with input from the player’s existing head coach Marián Vajda who reportedly wanted to spend more time with his family and was looking to have his coaching workload somewhat reduced. For Becker, in addition to working alongside Vajda, the job entailed special emphasis on Grand Slam tournaments as Djokovic felt he missed out on winning a couple of majors over the previous two seasons due to a lack of mental edge in the final stages of those tournaments. Becker’s first tournament coaching Djokovic was the 2014 Australian Open.
On May 5th, 2017, Djokovic confirmed that he had come to a mutual agreement to terminate his coaching relationship with Vajda, as well as Phil-Gritsch and Amanović. In a statement on his website, Djokovic cited the reasons for the personnel shakeup: “Novak and the team members decided to part ways after a detailed analysis of the game, achieved results in the previous period, and also after discussing private plans of each team member. Despite the fantastic cooperation so far, Djokovic felt he needed to make a change, and to introduce new energy in order to raise his level of play.”
Sponsorships and business ventures
Djokovic endorses Serbian telecommunications company Telekom Srbija and German nutritional supplement brand FitLine.
Since turning professional in 2003, Djokovic has been wearing Adidas clothing. At the end of 2009, Djokovic signed a 10-year deal with the Italian clothing company Sergio Tacchini after Adidas refused to extend his clothing contract (choosing instead to sign Andy Murray). Tacchini doesn’t make shoes so Djokovic continued with Adidas as his choice of footwear. His sponsorship contract with Tacchini was incentive heavy, and due to Djokovic’s disproportionate success and dominance in 2011, the company fell behind on bonus payments, leading to the termination of the sponsorship contract.
From 2011, Djokovic began to wear custom Red and Blue Adidas Barricade 6.0’s shoes, referring to the colours of the Serbian national flag. By April 2012, the Tacchini deal had fallen first short and then apart. At that point, he was set to join forces with Nike, Inc., but instead, on 23 May 2012, Uniqlo appointed Djokovic as its global brand ambassador. The five-year sponsorship, reportedly worth €8 million per year, began on 27 May 2012 in Paris’ Roland-Garros French Open Tennis Tournament. A year later, Djokovic’s long-term footwear deal with Adidas was announced ahead of 2013 French Open.
In August 2011, Djokovic became the brand ambassador of Swiss watch manufacturer Audemars Piguet. Less than a month later, Djokovic signed a sponsorship deal with German car company Mercedes-Benz. In March 2012, Djokovic was announced by Bombardier Aerospace as its latest Learjet brand ambassador, thus joining the likes of actor and pilot John Travolta, architect Frank Gehry, maestro Valery Gergiev, and classical pianist Lang Lang. From January 2014 Djokovic has been endorsing French car manufacturer Peugeot. At the same time he entered into an endorsement deal with Japanese watch manufacturer Seiko, having just ended his affiliation with their rivals Audemars Piguet. In early 2015, ahead of Australian Open, Djokovic teamed up with Australian banking corporation ANZ for a social media campaign to raise money for local communities across the Asia Pacific region. At the same time his partnership with Jacob’s Creek, an Australian wine brand owned by Orlando Wines, was announced in regards to the production and distribution of ‘Made By’ film series, a documentary style content meant to “show a side of Novak not seen before as he recounts never before told life stories from Belgrade, Serbia, celebrating what has made him the champion he is today”.
According to Forbes, Djokovic earned US$31 million in endorsements during 2014, behind only Roger Federer (US$58 million), Tiger Woods ($50 million), Phil Mickelson ($48), LeBron James ($44), Kevin Durant ($35), and Rory McIlroy ($32).
Since 2004, the business end of Djokovic’s career has been handled by Israeli managers Amit Naor (former pro tennis player turned sports agent) and Allon Khakshouri, the duo that also had Marat Safin and Dinara Safina as their clients. In June 2008, after the duo entered into partnership with CAA Sports, the sports division of Hollywood talent firm Creative Artists Agency, meaning that the famous company started representing tennis players for the first time, Djokovic formally signed with CAA Sports. After Djokovic’s contract with CAA Sports expired during summer 2012, he decided to switch representation, announcing IMG Worldwide as his new representatives in December 2012.
On 22 May 2017, Djokovic was unveiled as a brand ambassador of Lacoste after a five-year partnership with Uniqlo.
In 2005, as Djokovic moved up the tennis rankings, he ventured into the business world. Most of these activities are channeled through Family Sport, a legal entity in Serbia founded and run by members of his immediate family. Registered as a limited liability company, Family Sport initially focused on hospitality, specifically the restaurant business, by establishing Novak Café & Restaurant, a franchise themed around Djokovic’s tennis success. Over time, the company, whose day-to-day operations are mostly handled by Novak’s father Srdjan and uncle Goran, expanded its activities into real estate, sports/entertainment event organization, and sports apparel distribution.
The company launched Novak Café & Restaurant in 2008 in the Belgrade municipality of Novi Beograd, the flagship location in a franchised chain of theme café-restaurants. During 2009, two more locations were added—one in Kragujevac and the other in Belgrade, the city’s second, in September at the neighbourhood of Dorćol overlooking the playing courts of Serbia Open whose inaugural edition took place several months earlier. On 16 December 2011 a location in Novi Sad was opened, however, it operated just over three years before closing in late March 2015. It was announced in late 2012 that Djokovic had purchased the entire existing 2013 production of donkey cheese, which is produced by a single farm in Serbia. It was believed that it was done to ensure a reliable supply for his chain of restaurants in Serbia. One week later, it was proven that the story was exaggerated. Banja Luka in neighbouring Republika Srpska got its Novak Café & Restaurant location on 16 October 2015 within Hotel Trešnja on Banj hill.
In February 2008, the company reached an agreement with local authorities in the city of Kragujevac about jointly entering into a real estate development deal that was to include 4 hectares of city-owned land at Veliki Park being developed into a tennis centre with 14 courts. But by 2010 the company pulled out of these plans.
In March 2008, Family Sport won a municipal authority-organized tender in Novi Beograd by submitting an €11 million bid for the 3.8 hectares of land located in Ivan Ribar neighbourhood; with the ambitious plan to build a big tennis centre there. As of spring 2013, construction was yet to commence.
In 2009, the company managed to buy an ATP tournament known as the Dutch Open and bring it to Serbia where it became – Serbia Open. With the help of Belgrade city authorities, the tournament’s inaugural edition was held during May 2009 at the city-owned ‘Milan Gale Muškatirović’ courts, located at an attractive spot in Dorćol neighbourhood.
On Monday, 4 July 2011, one day after Djokovic won Wimbledon, Family Sport organized the homecoming reception in front of the National Assembly building with more than 80,000 people gathering to greet him.
In May 2015, right after winning his fourth Rome Masters title, Djokovic launched a line of nutritional food products, called Djokolife. Unveiled in Milan at the Lombardy regional administrative headquarters, the project saw Djokovic represented by Withers LLP international law firm.
Serbian press reported in February 2016 about Djokovic’s uncle’s buying hectares of arable land on their company’s behalf in the Lipovac village near Topola in Serbia’s Šumadija region with a view of turning it into vineyards and moving into the winemaking business.
Grand Slam tournament performance timeline
(W) Won tournament; reached (F) final, (SF) semifinal, (QF) quarterfinal; (#R) rounds 4, 3, 2, 1; competed at a (RR) round-robin stage; reached a (Q#) qualification round; (A) absent; or (NH) tournament not held.
To avoid confusion and double counting, these charts are updated either at the conclusion of a tournament, or when the player’s participation in the tournament has ended.
|Australian Open||1R||1R||4R||W||QF||QF||W||W||W||QF||W||W||2R||6 / 13||58–7||89.23|
|French Open||2R||QF||SF||SF||3R||QF||SF||F||SF||F||F||W||QF||1 / 13||59–12||83.10|
|Wimbledon||3R||4R||SF||2R||QF||SF||W||SF||F||W||W||3R||3 / 12||54–9||85.71|
|US Open||3R||3R||F||SF||SF||F||W||F||F||SF||W||F||2 / 12||62–10||86.11|
|Win–Loss||5–4||9–4||19–4||18–3||15–4||19–4||25–1||24–3||24–3||22–3||27–1||21–2||5–2||12 / 50||233–38||85.98|
* Djokovic’s quarterfinal match at the 2011 French Open and his second round match at the 2016 US Open were walkovers (so not counted as wins)
- Finals: 21 (12 titles, 9 runner-ups)
|Runner-up||2007||US Open||Hard||Roger Federer||6–7(4–7), 6–7(2–7), 4–6|
|Winner||2008||Australian Open||Hard||Jo-Wilfried Tsonga||4–6, 6–4, 6–3, 7–6(7–2)|
|Runner-up||2010||US Open (2)||Hard||Rafael Nadal||4–6, 7–5, 4–6, 2–6|
|Winner||2011||Australian Open (2)||Hard||Andy Murray||6–4, 6–2, 6–3|
|Winner||2011||Wimbledon||Grass||Rafael Nadal||6–4, 6–1, 1–6, 6–3|
|Winner||2011||US Open||Hard||Rafael Nadal||6–2, 6–4, 6–7(3–7), 6–1|
|Winner||2012||Australian Open (3)||Hard||Rafael Nadal||5–7, 6–4, 6–2, 6–7(5–7), 7–5|
|Runner-up||2012||French Open||Clay||Rafael Nadal||4–6, 3–6, 6–2, 5–7|
|Runner-up||2012||US Open (3)||Hard||Andy Murray||6–7(10–12), 5–7, 6–2, 6–3, 2–6|
|Winner||2013||Australian Open (4)||Hard||Andy Murray||6–7(2–7), 7–6(7–3), 6–3, 6–2|
|Runner-up||2013||Wimbledon||Grass||Andy Murray||4–6, 5–7, 4–6|
|Runner-up||2013||US Open (4)||Hard||Rafael Nadal||2–6, 6–3, 4–6, 1–6|
|Runner-up||2014||French Open (2)||Clay||Rafael Nadal||6–3, 5–7, 2–6, 4–6|
|Winner||2014||Wimbledon (2)||Grass||Roger Federer||6–7(7–9), 6–4, 7–6(7–4), 5–7, 6–4|
|Winner||2015||Australian Open (5)||Hard||Andy Murray||7–6(7–5), 6–7(4–7), 6–3, 6–0|
|Runner-up||2015||French Open (3)||Clay||Stan Wawrinka||6–4, 4–6, 3–6, 4–6|
|Winner||2015||Wimbledon (3)||Grass||Roger Federer||7–6(7–1), 6–7(10–12), 6–4, 6–3|
|Winner||2015||US Open (2)||Hard||Roger Federer||6–4, 5–7, 6–4, 6–4|
|Winner||2016||Australian Open (6)||Hard||Andy Murray||6–1, 7–5, 7–6(7–3)|
|Winner||2016||French Open||Clay||Andy Murray||3–6, 6–1, 6–2, 6–4|
|Runner-up||2016||US Open (5)||Hard||Stan Wawrinka||7–6(7–1), 4–6, 5–7, 3–6|
Year–End Championships performance timeline
|Year-End Championship Tournaments|
|YEC||A||A||A||A||RR||W||RR||SF||RR||W||W||W||W||F||5 / 10||31–11||73.81|
- Year–End Championships finals: 6 (5 titles, 1 Runner-up)
|Outcome||Year||Location||Surface||Opponent in the final||Score in the final|
|Winner||2008||Shanghai||Hard (i)||Nikolay Davydenko||6–1, 7–5|
|Winner||2012||London||Hard (i)||Roger Federer||7–6(8–6), 7–5|
|Winner||2013||London||Hard (i)||Rafael Nadal||6–3, 6–4|
|Winner||2014||London||Hard (i)||Roger Federer||Walkover|
|Winner||2015||London||Hard (i)||Roger Federer||6–3, 6–4|
|Runner-up||2016||London||Hard (i)||Andy Murray||3–6, 4–6|
All-time tournament records
|Event||Since||Record accomplished||Players matched|
|ATP Rankings||1973||Highest number of ranking points as World No.1 (16,950)||Stands alone|
|Grand Slams||1978||Holding all 4 Majors titles on 3 different surfaces at once[b]||Stands alone|
|Grand Slams||1877||3 consecutive finals at each Grand Slam||Stands alone|
|Grand Slams||1877||Non-Calendar Year Grand Slam||Don Budge|
|Grand Slams||1978||13 hardcourt finals||Roger Federer|
|Grand Slams||1978||88% (120–16) hardcourt match winning percentage||Stands alone|
|ATP World Tour||1970||Holding all 4 Grand Slams and Year-End Championship at once||Stands alone|
|ATP World Tour||1970||35 Top-tier hardcourt tournaments won (Big Titles)[c]||Stands alone|
|ATP World Tour||1970||10 Top tier tournaments won in a season (2015)||Stands alone|
|ATP World Tour||1970||18 Top tier tournament finals in a row||Stands alone|
|ATP World Tour||1970||15 straight finals reached in a season (2015)||Stands alone|
|ATP Masters 1000||1970||30 titles overall||Rafael Nadal|
|ATP Masters 1000||1970||22 hardcourt Masters titles||Stands alone|
|ATP Masters 1000||1970||8 different titles[d]||Stands alone|
|ATP Masters 1000||1970||6 titles won in a single season (2015)||Stands alone|
|ATP Masters 1000||1970||83% career Masters match winning percentage||Stands alone|
Open Era records
- These records were attained in the Open Era of tennis and in ATP World Tour Masters 1000 series since 1990.
- Records in bold indicate peer-less achievements.
|Time span||Selected Grand Slam tournament records||Players matched|
|Grand Slam tournaments||Time span||Records at each Grand Slam tournament||Players matched|
|Time span||Record accomplished||Players matched|
- ITF World Champion: 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015.
- ATP Player of the Year: 2011, 2012, 2014, 2015.