A legitimate question, wouldn’t you say? I think it is about time I dedicated a post to why Djokovic is winning everything in sight. That is not an exaggeration either.
So far this year he has won 28 matches and lost only one which you can hardly call a loss because it was a mid-match retirement. And of course, last year he had the best season ever with an 82-6 win-loss record.
- The Weak Era Argument
How does he do it? Why does he keep winning with seemingly no end in sight? There are of course many theories floating around. The favorite one of the non-Djokovic fans is that we are just experiencing a weak era and Djokovic is an opportunist.
That’s easy to debunk because from 2012-2014 Djokovic was consistently losing to guys he is beating now. For more about that, you can read here. So Djokovic clearly improved. Not everyone could have declined while only Djokovic improved.
The main argument is that Federer and Nadal have declined. It is true that Nadal has declined, but people seem to forget Djokovic’s little role in that.
First, he defeated Nadal in 7 straight big finals from 2011-2012 and saved Federer from being equaled in slam count in the process, and then from the end of 2013 until now he has beaten Nadal 11/12 times including once at the French Open and twice at the World Tour Finals past the group stages.
Federer could never stop Nadal from chasing him down. Djokovic did it for Federer and in the process caused Nadal’s decline. If Nadal didn’t lose all those big matches to Djokovic he would have surpassed Federer by now and still be winning slams.
How can you use weak era as an excuse when Djokovic caused one of his biggest rivals to decline? But let me now deal with Federer since he was Djokovic’s other big competition.
Federer made a new beginning at the start of 2014 with a new coach and a new racquet. It quickly paid off but it was also going to take some time before he would adjust to his new game plan which was to come to the net more.
He had very promising results in 2014 after a dismal 2013 but couldn’t get over that final hurdle to secure the 18th slam. During the second half of 2015, his newfound game really started clicking as he played some of the best tennis of his career.
The only problem was that Djokovic was now doing the same, and his best was just a little better than Federer’s best. He defeated Federer in two consecutive slam finals where many pundits had Federer as the favorite.
And you could hardly blame them given how well Federer played in the run-up to both those slam finals. That Wimbledon semi-final against Murray was sheer grass court mastery and in the run-up to the US Open final, I don’t think Federer dropped serve since the beginning of Cincinnati.
His serving was off the charts as he blew away the competition without dropping a set throughout Cincinnati and until the final in New York. Not only that, but he had a drunk and fanatical New York crowd behind him.
So tell me again how much Federer has ‘declined’ and how easy it was for Djokovic to win those big titles. People will believe what they want to believe. Even if the facts clearly contradict their views.
I’m therefore not trying to convince anyone. I’m just putting the truth out there so people who are ready for it can see it. I have not even gotten to Wawrinka and Murray yet. Wawrinka, for one, is clearly better than he ever was with two slam titles in the last couple of years.
As for Murray, he had his best clay court season to date last year and made the Australian Open final in the last couple of years as well. If you look at who Djokovic lost to from 2012-2014 it becomes clear that it is he who improved and not the competition who declined.
People always play the weak era card when someone dominates as though the one who dominates has no effect on the competition. They did the same with Federer. So Federer fans who says Federer didn’t dominate a weak era shouldn’t now all of a sudden say Djokovic is dominating a weak era.
At least, Djokovic has to deal with Federer, Nadal, Murray, and Wawrinka when he is winning most of his slams. Federer only really had young Nadal to deal with when he won most of his slams and then the rest like Roddick, Safin, Hewitt, Davydenko, etc.
Finally, Djokovic dominated Federer and Nadal(especially) in 2011 as well and he is now a better and more complete player.
- The Real Reason Djokovic is Winning Everything
The real season Djokovic is winning everything in sight is because he playing at a higher level than anyone has ever played the game of tennis before. And for some, this is difficult to comprehend because they think a high level equals looking spectacular.
And although Djokovic is spectacular, it is less noticeable than with Federer or Nadal. Djokovic’s genius is more to do with his completeness as a player and putting his opponent under immense pressure with both depth and consistency of shot.
There is a little more to it than that though and I want to get into it some more here. One of the keys for Djokovic is his return of serve which is the best in history. That, coupled with a very effective serve, is a recipe for doing immense damage on a tennis court.
Djokovic’s tennis is all about pressuring his opponent and giving him no breathing room. Check out this article from Craig O’Shannessy about the Miami final. Some people may find it surprising that the key for Djokovic was first-strike tennis.
There is still this stereotyping under Fedfans especially that Djokovic is a defensive player. That is either due to ignorance or flat out bias. Djokovic is as much an attacking player as a defensive player.
He can do both equally well and adapts to the opponent. Against Nadal for instance Djokovic tends to be more offensive than against Federer. As the two biggest rivals of his career Federer and Nadal obviously had a big influence on his tennis.
In effect, he became a Fedal hybrid, and since Federer and Nadal are probably the best offensive and defensive players in history Djokovic combined those two playing styles and took tennis to a new level.
This is the evolution of tennis. Djokovic is a new brand of player who seemingly have no weaknesses. Of course, his serve and volleys are not as good as Federer’s and his defensive abilities are not quite as ridiculous as Nadal’s but it is the combination of the two that is so potent.
To get back to the Miami final and the article I posted, it is clear again why Djokovic’s depth and accuracy are so difficult to handle. Nishikori was crushing his backhand 10mph harder than Djokovic at the beginning but it meant nothing because Djokovic was forcing him to hit it from further back in the court than he usually does.
The number of shots he hit inside the baseline was cut in half by Djokovic’s depth of shot as opposed to his other matches in Miami.
He simply makes it unbelievably difficult for opponents to settle into a rhythm and play their normal game. This is one of the most fascinating and exciting things about his game. I find it astonishing the regularity with which he hits the ball squarely onto the baseline.
Not a foot or even a centimeter inside the baseline, but smack bang on the line. I have never seen anyone do that with such consistency. It’s almost a kind of supernatural ability he has and he does it at the most crucial of times too.
But aside from his sheer consistency and accuracy from the baseline, as you saw in the article he plays first strike tennis. Not only does he make opponents miss a lot but with his serve and return game, he wins a lot of ‘easy’ points.
His serve has always been effective(aside from that time Tod Martin messed it up) but has become more of a weapon recently. He gets his fair share of aces or service winners as well as points where the serve puts him into the dominant position in the rally straight away.
This is the case for most players, however, which is why breaks of serve are the exception. What makes Djokovic so good and better than Federer and Nadal even is how he takes the advantage of the server away.
I remember another article from O’Shannessy where he discusses this issue and had the stats for how much pressure Djokovic put on the server. His returning is so exceptional that very often he takes the advantage of the server away right off the bat.
Sometimes he hits a winner off the return. Sometimes he hits such a good return that the opponent can only make a weak reply and he is in the dominant position right away. And yet other times he simply takes the advantage of the server away by making a deep return and putting him right back on an even keel with the server.
This is why Djokovic hardly ever loses a set. Nevermind a match. He has such an advantage with his world class returning that players find it hard just to hold serve against him and he often wins sets 6-0 or 6-1. Even against massive servers like Raonic.
It is almost like the opponent doesn’t get a chance to serve at all. Djokovic plays the match on his terms whether he is serving or returning.
- In Conclusion
I think the weak era argument is overrated and people fail to acknowledge what role Djokovic played in ‘making’ it a weak era by putting Federer and Nadal to bed himself. He came up in the strongest era in tennis history and instead of allowing it to break him he used it to take tennis to a new level.
I don’t take most of the criticism seriously because I know it is mostly from fanatical Federer and Nadal fans and ignorance. You just have to look at how many people stopped commenting on my blog to realize that.
Djokovic deserves absolutely all of the credit for his utter dominance of tennis. Not only is he playing the highest level of tennis ever seen but to get there he had to come through what up until now has been known as the golden era of tennis.
And I want people to acknowledge that Djokovic raised his level, even from 2015. If you look at who he lost to from 2012-2014 it becomes obvious that he raised his level and of course if he raises his level it is going to appear like the rest are weaker!
I know many people simply don’t want to see the truth even if you spell it out for them but if Djokovic wins the French Open this year, they won’t have a choice anymore. He would finally have the career slam in the bag but he would have won the Djoker slam as well, something not even Federer or Nadal could do.
I don’t think tennis has ever been as exciting as it currently is, and yet you have plenty of establishment sheep who acts like it’s the worst era in tennis. Well, these people are either going to have to become real tennis fans or leave the sport because Djokovic is not going to stop dominating tennis anytime soon.
These people better pray hard that he doesn’t win the French Open because if that happens there will be no stopping him. He would already be in the GOAT debate and if he wins the calendar slam he will pretty much be the GOAT.
That is already looking very far ahead though so if you want you can just ignore the calendar slam part. Whatever the case may be, there is now a very interesting clay court season ahead whether you are a fan or a hater.
Like I said before, I find Djokovic’s game extremely fascinating and exciting to watch. And I wish more people can appreciate him like I do.
I hope this post will help with that!