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For Djokovic, Banner 2011 Season Remains Benchmark To Eclipse

  • Posted: Mar 11, 2020

For Djokovic, Banner 2011 Season Remains Benchmark To Eclipse looks back at the Serbian’s historic year

After lifting the title earlier this month in Dubai and improving to 18-0 in 2020, Novak Djokovic half-jokingly remarked that he’d like to still be undefeated at the end of the year. It might be the only way that the Serbian could top his epic 2011 season, which still remains in the conversation for the greatest individual season in the Open Era.

No less of an authority than John McEnroe, who posted an 82-3 record in 1984, deemed Djokovic’s run “the greatest year in the history of our sport.” Pete Sampras even went a step further by calling it “one of the greatest achievements in the history of sports.”

The numbers that Djokovic ended his 2011 season with are still jaw-dropping nearly a decade later. He compiled a 70-6 record and racked up 10 tour-level titles, including three Grand Slam crowns. Djokovic also became the first player to win five ATP Masters 1000 titles in a single year and remains the only player to accomplish the feat.

Djokovic’s 2011 Season Highlights
W-L Record: 70-6 (92.1%)
Titles: 10
Record vs. Top 10: 21-4 
Record vs. Federer & Nadal: 10-1 
Longest Winning Streak: 41 (January-June 2011)
Prize Money: $12,619,803 (new season record)

Djokovic started 2011 at No. 3 in the FedEx ATP Rankings, with then-World No. 1 Rafael Nadal holding nearly double the amount of points. Six months later, Djokovic clinched the No. 1 ranking for the first time after defeating Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the Wimbledon semi-finals. He cemented the role reversal by finishing the year with a 4,000-point lead over Nadal.

FedEx ATP Rankings Points Among Big Three – Start & End Of 2011

Player Start-of-season points End-of-season points
Novak Djokovic 6,240 13,630
Rafael Nadal 12,450 9,590
Roger Federer 9,145 8,170

Djokovic began the year by going on a staggering 41-0 run, only trailing John McEnroe (42-0, 1984) for the best start to a season in the Open Era. He started by lifting his second Grand Slam crown at the Australian Open, scoring dominant straight-sets wins in the semi-finals and final against Roger Federer and Andy Murray, respectively.

A title in Dubai – and another win over Federer in the championship match – soon followed, before he became the seventh man to complete the “Sunshine Double”. Djokovic posted back-to-back victories against Federer and Nadal in the semi-finals and final in Indian Wells, then outlasted Nadal in a third-set tie-break two weeks later to prevail in Miami.


The Djokovic train rolled on during the clay-court season as he completed a convincing title run on home soil in Belgrade (d. Lopez), but perhaps his most stunning accomplishment that year was still to come. The Serbian’s winless (0-9) record against Nadal on clay came to a halt with consecutive victories in the finals of Madrid and Rome. The victory in Madrid ended Nadal’s own run of 37 consecutive clay-court wins dating back to 2009.

“I came up against a great player. He’s having a monster year,” said Nadal after the Madrid final. “He was better. You have to accept that.”

Djokovic arrived at Roland Garros as the on-paper favourite for the title and he happily took on the role, cruising through the first week and receiving further help with a quarter-final walkover against Fabio Fognini. But all good things must come to an end. Federer snapped the Serbian’s winning streak by prevailing in a four-set semi-final thriller.

“These were the best months of my life, an incredible period. It had to end some time,” Djokovic reflected after the match. “Unfortunately, it came in a bad moment.”

Although the defeat was disappointing, it was hardly a knockout blow to his confidence. Djokovic immediately regrouped by ousting Nadal in the Wimbledon and US Open finals, with another Masters 1000 crown in Montreal (d. Fish) sandwiched between those triumphs. The Serbian finished the year with a stunning 10-1 combined record against Federer and Nadal, and beat the Spaniard in all six finals they contested.


Slight tweaks made to Djokovic’s game contributed to his dominance that year. A beefed-up second serve led to him winning 61 per cent of second-serve points prior to arriving in Cincinnati, compared to 52 per cent throughout the 2010 season, according to the Infosys ATP Stats Leaderboards. Greater efficiency in his second-serve return points (58% overall) contributed to him finishing 2011 as the season leader in return games won (39%).

Djokovic would love nothing more than to surpass those statistics this season. But while some fans and tennis experts may soon start comparing Djokovic’s current year to his 2011 performance, the Serbian will likely not join them in that analysis.

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“I don’t like to compare years,” he admitted in 2011 Montreal. “I think every year is a different experience [and] a different challenge. You grow. You evolve as a person and a player.”

Although Djokovic is understandably a much different person and player than he was nine years ago, his 2011 numbers still remain the benchmark to beat. If he can maintain his flawless start to 2020, it’s possible he could establish a new banner season for himself.

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Phoenix Challenger Announces Expanded Draws, Broadcast TV Coverage

  • Posted: Mar 11, 2020

Phoenix Challenger Announces Expanded Draws, Broadcast TV Coverage

Arizona Tennis Classic returns for second edition

It’s one of the ATP Challenger Tour’s crown jewels and next week the Arizona Tennis Classic will take on even greater importance in the tennis calendar.

The prestigious Challenger 125 event always attracts some of the best fields on the circuit, with players looking for additional match play between the ATP Masters 1000 events in Indian Wells and Miami. But this year, with the cancellation of the BNP Paribas Open, the tournament in Phoenix has been thrust into the spotlight.

Slated to begin Sunday, the event will feature an enhanced eight-day schedule with expanded draw sizes, increased broadcast TV coverage in the United States and a stacked field of today’s ATP stars. As the only tournament on the men’s calendar next week, all eyes will be on Phoenix.

On Wednesday, it was announced that the singles draw size would expand from 48 to 56 players and qualifying from four to eight competitors. With the goal of accommodating those affected by the cancellation of Indian Wells, the 56 main draw players will be comprised of 41 through the original entry list, six wild cards and four qualifiers. The five remaining spots will be filled from an on-site sign-in list using the most recent FedEx ATP Ranking.

The tournament will kick off on Sunday, with qualifying to be completed in addition to the start of the main draw. In the meantime, players have the opportunity to continue practising at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden, while utilising the on-site facilities and services.

ATP Challenger Tour 

Top 100 stars Frances Tiafoe, Jannik Sinner, Miomir Kecmanovic, Richard Gasquet, Steve Johnson, John Millman and Gilles Simon are among those confirmed to compete in Phoenix. Wild card announcements will be forthcoming.

In addition, Tennis Channel has announced wall-to-wall broadcast TV coverage of the Arizona Tennis Classic. The U.S. network announced that its production truck would be making its way to Phoenix for 60 hours of live match coverage. It will provide unprecedented TV exposure for a Challenger in the United States. Starting on Monday at 2pm ET, the network will show seven days of live tennis, concluding with singles and doubles finals on March 22. You can also watch free first ball to last coverage via the ATP Challenger Tour live streaming platform on

Held at the historic Phoenix Country Club, the Challenger event is making its second straight appearance on the calendar following its relocation from Irving, Texas. Last year, Matteo Berrettini lifted the trophy and went on to qualify for the Nitto ATP Finals, finishing in the Top 10 of the year-end FedEx ATP Rankings.

Established in 1899, the Phoenix Country Club is one of just seven Challenger venues to be founded before the turn of the century. Today, the facility also hosts a PGA Tour Champions event at its 18-hole golf course.

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Why Nadal's Return Game Transcends Generations

  • Posted: Mar 11, 2020

Why Nadal’s Return Game Transcends Generations

Infosys ATP Beyond The Numbers looks at why Nadal is the king of breaking serve

We are not breaking serve like we used to.

An Infosys ATP Beyond The Numbers analysis of players breaking serve over the past 29 years identifies that the most recent season (2019) and the most distant (1991) in the data set sit at polar opposites in overall performance on a statistics table – and not where you would expect.

The data set includes the average of the 20 best performers each season in breaking serve from when statistics were first kept in 1991 to last season. The leading 20 players in 1991 outperformed the season leaders in each of the 28 seasons that followed, breaking serve 32.18 per cent (4,309/13,392) of the time on average.

What was the worst performing season? None other than last year, when the leading 20 players broke serve just 26.19 per cent (3,769/14,315) of the time. We have a preconceived notion that our sport is always improving, always putting up superior numbers than yesteryear, but that’s not always the case. In fact, the leading six seasons are all in the 1990s and the seven worst performing years are all from 2010 onwards.

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There has only been one instance where a player has broken the 40 per cent threshold for return games won in a season. That was Rafael Nadal in 2016, where he won a staggering 40.75 per cent (216/530) of his return games. Nadal has been the season leader in return games won a record nine times, with the first coming in 2005. Nadal has been the return games won leader in the past two seasons and five of the past seven seasons.

In 2016, Nadal led the tour in breaking serve from 15/0. He won 27.13 per cent (70/258) of the games where this occurred, which was more than double the tour average of 13.49 per cent (2,891/21,435). It’s just another return metric where he understandably sits at the top of the mountain. The Spaniard has been the ultimate nemesis for the server for well over a decade.

While the leading 20 players performed better breaking serve in the 1990s than in the past decade, Nadal transcends all years and generations with his ability to consistently lead the tour in breaking serve at a rate other players simply can’t compete with.

1991-2019: Average Of The Best 20 Performers Breaking Serve

Year Leading 20 Players Break % Season Leader Season Leader Break %
1991 32.18% M. Gustafsson 36.48%
1994 31.79% A. Berasategui 36.83%
1995 31.68% T. Muster 35.92%
1992 31.28% M. Chang 36.70%
1993 31.27% A. Agassi 37.34%
1996 30.85% M. Chang 35.28%
2003 30.44% G. Coria 38.83%
2005 30.33% R. Nadal 37.54%
1998 29.89% K. Kucera 33.51%
2006 29.67% N. Davydenko 35.41%
1997 29.48% A. Corretja 33.42%
2011 29.36% N. Djokovic 38.84%
1999 29.27% A. Agassi 33.83%
2004 29.26% F. Volandri 37.46%
2001 28.98% L. Hewitt 33.48%
2002 28.94% L. Hewitt 33.06%
2007 28.92% D. Ferrer 36.09%
2016 28.57% R. Nadal 40.75%
2012 28.26% R. Nadal 37.70%
2000 28.15% K. Kucera 31.55%
2009 27.80% R. Nadal 33.56%
2008 27.80% R. Nadal 33.49%
2013 27.45% R. Nadal 33.84%
2010 27.35% J.I. Chela 32.22%
2018 27.01% R. Nadal 36.55%
2014 26.57% R. Nadal 34.97%
2017 26.57% D. Schwartzman 34.76%
2015 26.46% N. Djokovic 34.44%
2019 26.19% R. Nadal 34.97%

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Fed Cup Finals & GB tie postponed because of coronavirus

  • Posted: Mar 11, 2020

The inaugural 12-team Fed Cup Finals have been postponed because of coronavirus.

The event was scheduled to take place at the Laszlo Papp Arena in Budapest from 14 to 19 April.

The Hungarian government banned indoor gatherings of more than 100 people earlier on Wednesday – shortly after the ITF Board had taken the decision to postpone the Finals.

The ITF says it is committed to staging the Finals at a later date this year.

April’s play-offs are also affected, which means Great Britain’s tie in Mexico has been postponed.

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Coaches' Corner: Why Cervara And Medvedev Are A Winning Team

  • Posted: Mar 11, 2020

Coaches’ Corner: Why Cervara And Medvedev Are A Winning Team

Influence of watching Safin, helping Frenchman to develop skills

Daniil Medvedev was concerned that he wasn’t landing his first serve. Sitting in the Team Zone are the Russian’s coach Gilles Cervara and Marat Safin, the captain of Team Russia, at the inaugural ATP Cup. Italian Fabio Fognini, who has landed in Perth barely 24 hours earlier, wanting to spend more time in Barcelona following the recent birth of his daughter, Farah, is landing big shots, taking the first set 6-1. Medvedev looks over early in the second set, seeking help. Safin, who hasn’t wanted to tread on the toes of a player’s regular team, is concise and direct: “Throw it up, down the middle.” Medvedev does just that, hits an ace and returns a smile. He goes on to register his first win of the competition.

Safin is old-school, not wanting too much data to differentiate his read of the game. He told in Perth, “I don’t want to interfere in some things between a player and their coach, because sometimes if I say something, it might not have the right effect. I want them to believe in themselves and to do the best they can do. It’s a very delicate matter, because everybody has his own character and own approach; how they want to be approached, and I don’t want to make any damage, that’s for sure. I will try to be careful with my words.” For Cervara, named by his peers as Coach of the Year in the 2019 ATP Awards, being alongside Safin, a former No. 1 in the FedEx ATP Rankings, was an education into how a top player viewed a match unfolding. You could tell had Safin the total respect of Medvedev and Karen Khachanov.

“It was interesting being with Safin at the ATP Cup,” Cervara told “It was not the same view as I had from my coach position, as he saw it from the fact that he was a top player. In the Strategy Room or courtside, he always asked me if he could say something to Daniil, but he was always a sounding board for advice, even though how we worded our thoughts may have be different. I haven’t had mentors from coaching, but I do admire people with personality, from other sports and life in general, the way they live their lives and understand life. Marat was never pushy, but offered a welcome, different perspective and I learned an awful lot, just as I did with my own career, which was never at this level. But I understood what was happening to me on the court and I developed to help me to transfer my knowledge, my vision, to a player.”

Medvedev, Safin

The 39-year-old Cervara established the Elite Tennis Center in Cannes seven years ago with Jean-Rene Lisnard, and it was after a visit — and a lot of questions — from Medvedev’s parents [Sergey and Olga] in 2015 that their son relocated to the south of France for better training facilities and to stay with his sister, Elena, who already lived there. “While it wasn’t my first coaching experience, I wasn’t well known, but we developed a good connection,” admitted Cervara. “In 2015, his main coach was supposed to go to Marseille with Daniil, but he couldn’t as he was at another tournament with another player. So it was decided that I would go with Daniil to Marseille. We did a good job together and I was careful and sensitive about his personality, so he played well and felt good about his tennis. One year later, for the grass season, we went to a few tournaments and later in 2016, attended a few more. In the off-season we said ‘goodbye’, but we felt we’d worked well together and that’s how our relationship developed.”

It wasn’t until after Medvedev, then aged 21, had beaten Stan Wawrinka 6-4, 3-6, 6-4, 6-1 in the 2017 Wimbledon first round, that Cervara started to understand how he could help. Cervara, who became the Russian’s full-time coach later that year, remembers, “It was a big victory to beat a top player like Wawrinka. It meant something. I was not working with him all the time, but he was a good player, although I could see that there was nothing consistent in his preparation. That’s what we developed, when he asked me to be his full-time coach. I had a clear vision that we needed to improve this day-after-day and built a team around Daniil to help him.”

The team of physical trainer Eric Hernandez, psychologist Francisca Dauzet and sports scientist Yann Le Meur, in addition to those who analyse data from all of Medvedev’s matches, shared in Cervara’s coaching honour, as voted for by his peers in the 2019 ATP Awards. “Eric was there from the beginning, working at the centre as a physical trainer, but I knew as a coach Daniil’s physical strength was weak and we needed to do better” said Cervara. “It was the same with the mental approach with Francisca, with Daniil accepting and realising he need to do this work. Daniil was sensitive to Yann, who I’d known before, and we worked well together to be strong physically, because recovery in sports is a small part. If you’re not well trained physically, recovery doesn’t mean anything.”

They were all essential to Medvedev’s success last season, when the Russian posted an ATP Tour-best 59 match wins, 46 hard-court victories and nine final appearances, in addition to reaching a career-high No. 4. “Did Daniil’s 2019 surprise me?” asks Cervara. “I want to say in one part, yes, because when it happens like this, it’s ‘Wow, it’s amazing!’ But at the same time when you think about the work he did, then you know it wasn’t surprising. When you think about his win over [Stan] Wawrinka at Wimbledon [in 2017], Daniil was 70 in the world. It meant he could do crazy things, so no I’m not surprised about last year. He is the pilot now, driving to improve different areas.”

Cervara, Medvedev

The 24-year-old Medvedev has started 2020 with an 8-4 record, including four straight wins at the start of the season when he helped Russia to the ATP Cup semi-finals. Cervara doesn’t believe Medvedev is “under pressure [to defend 2019 FedEx ATP Rankings points], because he tries to do his best and win every match.” He won’t be changing anything up any time soon in their pre-match preparations. “I try to get Daniil mentally sound, the best feeling he can be,” said the French coach. “Sometimes we don’t work a lot with the ball, but we do the main things he likes to do. I try and fix one or two small things between matches in our one-hour training sessions, or work on different things if Daniil is receptive to it. Sometimes you do things that turn out to be useless, and sometimes useless things that are beneficial. It’s about feeling. I want him to feel good, putting in exercises he likes to do as it’s something we have done a lot.”

Safin, who finished his playing career in 2009, reflected on the state of Medvedev’s game at the ATP Cup, saying, “The first year, when you start and you do well, it’s a little bit easier than the second year. Because in the second year everybody starts to know you, starts to learn about you, and they try to change a tactic against you. He was a newcomer last year. So, this year, I think he’s working on a few new things to improve — it’s like a telephone. You have to upgrade each year, every time. The way that Daniil is thinking it, I think he will be dangerous this year. He’s very pumped up… Daniil is getting more and more stronger in the head. He’s a big fighter. He’s very smart, which is good. He reads the game very well. It’s easier for him to adapt to other players. He plays very good in important moments, in important matches, like we saw against Rafa [Nadal] in finals of the [2019] US Open.”

So after travelling to so many tournaments together, have player and coach become friends? “It’s tough to define what sort of relationship we have,” says Cervara. “In one way we can say friends, but it’s tough to use that word from my side. We have a very good connection, it’s not about talking, it’s sometimes just a look to convey energy and emotion. Things that worry me, don’t worry him and vice versa. I work on my coaching to develop my skills, as Daniil does with his tennis. Both are different approaches to the sport, but we have a good bond and one goal. I want him to realise his potential and have the best career he can.”

Medvedev, Cervara

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Coaches' Corner: 'The Crucial Thing' Hrvatin Wants Kecmanovic To Improve

  • Posted: Mar 11, 2020

Coaches’ Corner: ‘The Crucial Thing’ Hrvatin Wants Kecmanovic To Improve

Hrvatin’s relationship with Kecmanovic has lasted more than a decade

Miro Hrvatin has mentored #NextGenATP Serbian Miomir Kecmanovic for more than a decade, helping the former junior star rapidly climb the FedEx ATP Rankings. The Croatian spoke to about how their relationship has developed, what Kecmanovic needs to focus on, what off-season training with stars including Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer is like, and more.

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What are your biggest priorities with Miomir?
I think that this year, he’s stepping closer to the baseline. He’s more into the court, he’s much more aggressive. His serve went up [a level], and I think that’s the main thing we want to keep pushing. It is trying to play deep balls and stay close to the baseline, taking time away. That’s not a one-day job, but that’s something that we will try to make better this season.

He said that practising with top players during the off-season, he learned a lot from them about taking time away, taking the ball early to push the point a little bit. How important is that to add to his game?
I think that’s the crucial thing, because everybody knows how to play forehands and backhands. But once you take time away from them, things start to be different. We were lucky this pre-season and last pre-season we had really good pre-season camps and good players. Some of the best players in the world were there.

Practising with them, they are showing you the path where you want to go, what you have to do, and what you have to work on.

How priceless is it that he spent an off-season with Dominic, this past off-season with Novak and so forth?
I think that’s the biggest thing you can get. Last year in Tenerife with Gunter Bresnik and with Dominic Thiem and all the guys over there like David Goffin and Jan-Lennard Struff, it was perfect. And this year was even more perfect.

You had Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic, Karen Khachanov… you cannot buy that practice. You cannot find it anywhere else except playing with those guys. For me and for him, I think it’s one of the best things he can get.

How did he approach that? Was he simply excited?
He’s always excited when playing with Novak of course and Roger. He still didn’t hit with Nadal, but that’s something that we are working on. He likes to compete, and then once he has one of the best players on the other side, then he’s always giving his maximum. I believe that is something that raises your level. 

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Is taking it early a footwork thing, getting used to the timing? What’s the key?
I think it’s a combination, plus I think it’s the player who needs to be mentally aggressive. It’s something that I think is not only one thing. Footwork is very important, but then the timing is different if you are coming closer to the ball. All together, I think it takes time to fit into place.

But that’s the thing that they’re all doing. You don’t have time while playing with the best players in the world. If you give them a short ball, you are dead. You lost the point, that’s it. Very simple.

What’s something people should know about Miomir outside of tennis?
He likes high adrenaline, that I know. He likes to jump skydiving, he’s done that. That’s something that he enjoyed a lot. I would not jump from there, not for a million dollars. He’s doing that very easy, very simple. He likes those adrenaline things, so I think that helps him playing tennis because tennis is always under pressure. So I think for him it’s easier because he’s doing that.

You’ve known Miomir for a long, long time, more than a majority of coaches work with their players. How does that add to your working relationship with him, knowing him for so long?
I’ve known him since he was eight or nine, when we had a couple of practice sessions. Then I lived in Pula, Croatia, so he came back there for the summer every year until he went to the United States. In three or four years, we started our relationship.

As long as you know somebody, I think it’s good. If you know them longer, I think it could help. For me, sometimes, if you spend too much time together, it could go the other way. But for us at the moment, it’s still a good relationship with a lot of respect. We are working hard, so it’s good.

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How different is that little Miomir you met 12, 13 years ago, compared to how he is now?
Some parts of him are the same, but of course he grew up a lot and he’s much more professional now, even though at that time he was very focussed and very determined with his goals. Some things changed, some stayed the same.

What’s the biggest thing that has changed?
The process, just growing up. When you are a small kid, you compete to win. But getting older, I think winning becomes more and more important. 

When you first saw Miomir when he was a kid, if I had told you he’d be where he is now, what would you have said?
He was really young when I first saw him. But his technique was very solid. I would say he didn’t change a lot, especially the groundstrokes. Serve, yes, but the groundstrokes were very solid, even at that time. Every player and every coach dreams to be Top 10 or No. 1. You need to put a lot of work in, a lot of effort, and get a little bit of luck.

How high is his ceiling?
We go step by step. I think there are things that we have to work on and if he improves one thing by one, I think we can make some steps forward even this year. 

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He was a very highly touted junior, but not every junior makes it all the way to the top of the sport, so how nice has this smooth climb been to start his pro career?
It’s a lot of working and Misha wants that, so he’s willing to work for it. He’s fighting for it. We are fighting for it together with all the team, everybody around him, with the family and everybody. I think it’s going in a good direction, luckily.

There are some coaches who have worked with many players. Miomir is your first big experience on the ATP Tour. What has that journey been like?
I enjoy it a lot and I love tennis and I love challenges. When he’s winning, of course, everybody is happy, and I’m the most happy. But sometimes if you have a bad period, the thing is challenging us, ‘Let’s see if we could do something to make it back on track.’ I love it.

What should people know about Miomir off the tennis court?
He’s all in tennis! He is very focussed on his goals and I think one of the reasons that he’s here, it’s that he’s very focussed, very determined to achieve those goals that he has in his mind.

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Why You Should Pay More Attention To Djokovic's Serve

  • Posted: Mar 11, 2020

Why You Should Pay More Attention To Djokovic’s Serve

Isner and Opelka provide insight into the Serbian’s underappreciated weapon

In the past, people didn’t often discuss World No. 1 Novak Djokovic’s serve. But the statistics show that it has long been among tennis’ best.

“You actually don’t think about his serve, which is kind of disrespectful to him in a sense, just because he does everything so well,” said John Isner, who ranks second all-time in service games won at 92 per cent. “You immediately talk about his return and of course his movement around the court, and his groundstrokes are the best in the world.”

Starting in 2011, Djokovic finished among the ATP Tour’s 10 best in service games won every season except for 2017, when he underwent right elbow surgery. The Serbian has averaged just more than five aces per match in his career according to Infosys ATP Scores & Stats, but he has still been effective.

“He spot serves it very well. He won’t necessarily hit it 130 miles per hour, but he’s definitely improved that part of his game,” Isner said. “He would even say probably six or seven years ago that his serve was a bit of a liability. But now it’s not at all, and that’s why he’s the most dominant player in the game.”

2019 Service Games Won Leaderboard

 Player  Service Games Won (%)
 1. John Isner  94%
 2. Roger Federer  91%
 3. Reilly Opelka  91% 
 4. Rafael Nadal  90%
 5. Novak Djokovic  88%

Djokovic ranks fifth in career second-serve points won (56%) and 14th in career service games won (86%). The 32-year-old has won a higher rate of service games than players known for their big serves — Goran Ivanisevic and Mark Philippoussis — as well as former World No. 1s Rafael Nadal, Jim Courier, Andre Agassi, Stefan Edberg, Ivan Lendl and more.

Djokovic’s Average Aces Per Match — Past Five Years

 2020  7.2
 2019  5.7
 2018  5.3
 2017  4.1
 2016  3.8

Editor’s Note: Aces from Davis Cup are not recorded in Infosys ATP Scores & Stats.
Reilly Opelka, who was second on the ATP Tour in aces last season, believes that Djokovic has a strong serve, and knowing that his stunning baseline game is there to back it up makes breaking the Serbian a daunting task for returners.

“I think it’s moreso because of everything else in his game. He does serve very well. But he’s breaking serve [more than 30 per cent] of the time, which is ridiculous,” Opelka said. “Obviously when you give him the first strike of the ball, it’s going to be even higher. He does serve well and it’s not talked about. But it’s really the rest of his game that makes him impossible to break.”

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Djokovic has outpaced his average rate of service games won (86%) this season. He has won nearly 90 per cent of his service games in 2020, up from 87 per cent in 2018 and 88 per cent in 2019. That has helped Djokovic to an 18-0 start, leading Team Serbia to ATP Cup glory, triumphing at the Australian Open and lifting the trophy in Dubai.

“I’m hitting everything I can in terms of the variety of spin, slice, flat, hitting the spots, body, wide, T. I’m trying to mix it up all the time. Obviously depends who I play against. Obviously I have different tactics depending on the opponent,” Djokovic said after defeating big-serving Milos Raonic in the Australian Open quarter-finals. “I feel that my serve this year so far in the ATP Cup and also the Australian Open has been terrific. It’s allowed me to win a lot of free points.

“When I’m serving well and getting a high percentage of first serves in, it allows me to feel more comfortable, more confident, step in and play at the higher level of tennis.”

ATP Heritage: Milestones. Records. Legends.

In 2017 and 2018, when Djokovic dealt with right elbow issues, he abbreviated his service motion before abandoning that adjustment. Ever since, the Serbian has been devastatingly good on serve. What’s scary for his opponents is that he’s working hard to make the stroke even better.

“We worked a lot in the off-season on my serve. I’m feeling great. I have a great rhythm. Obviously I know that different surfaces, different times, require different adjustments,” Djokovic said. “But in terms of the way I’ve been serving now, it has been some of the best serving I’ve had in my career.”

My Point: Get The Players' Point Of View

Other players have taken notice. Djokovic’s serve isn’t often praised as much as the rest of the game. But when you realise how effective it is, the idea of facing him becomes more intimidating.

“He doesn’t have a weakness. He just doesn’t. That’s why he’s No. 1 in the world, he’s one of the greatest players of all-time. He’s only a few Grand Slams now behind the all-time record,” Isner said. “It’s pretty incredible what he’s doing.”

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