Back to number one for Novak Djokovic, the man who is, after all, the best tennis player in the world today.
Novak Djokovic couldn’t live up to his success from the 2011 season, an incredible run that saw him win three Grand Slam titles and simply destroying everything in his path before slowing down towards the end of the season and letting Andy Murray grab his usual titles in China while Roger Federer took over near the end in Paris and London.
This year was a bit different. Djokovic maintained the same mental strength he presented in 2011, proving quite difficult to beat in close matches, but something about his consistency and shot making wasn’t there. A strong start with wins in Miami and the Australian Open evaporated during the clay season against Rafael Nadal and later against Roger Federer in Wimbledon.
The US Open was a slightly different story, but Djokovic wasn’t 100% in the finals, and no one was going to stop Andy Murray this time from winning a Grand Slam title, finally completing his transformation from the lower quarter of the world’s top 4 into a legitimate claimant to the title “best player in the world at the moment, while Nadal is injured, Djokovic isn’t at his top and Federer has his ups and downs.”
In Asia, and specifically Shanghai, it was the Djokovic from 2011. The one who wouldn’t let Roger Federer beat him at the US Open semifinal or Andy Murray a few months later (2012) in Melbourne. A player who can save five match points and even allow himself a hot dog shot against Andy Murray despite being down two points away from a loss.
That certain steeliness to his game was back. Facing defeat and looking at it in the eyes, Djokovic simply raised his physicality and power to a different level. A level that it seems he can’t be touched at, but struggled to make that kind of elevation in his game too often this season. Andy Murray, maybe a little bit exhausted from his remarkable run in the second half of the Tennis season, was simply running on empty, in his head and legs, once he lost the tiebreak in the second set.
Djokovic is back where he belongs – the number one spot. Roger Federer seems a bit off in the last few months; maybe resting up for Basel, Paris and his favorite, the year’s end tournament in London. In my opinion, playing those three tournaments will be a bit too much for his body, which seems to crash under intense conditions this year. When he’s rested, there’s no one better. But fitness and fatigue come into account when you decide the favorites and best in the world. As of now, both Murray and Djokovic are better than him.