Djokovic’s gains are relentless

Novak Djokovic looks a class above the rest of the tennis world, and the stats indicate the world number one is only getting better and better.

Djokovic made light work of his opponents on his way to winning the Australian Open last month, with the Serb heavily favoured to sweep the grand slams this year.

Some have pointed to aging Roger Federer, an injury-prone Rafael Nadal and a lack of genuine young up-and-coming contenders as the reason for Djokovic’s dominance over the past 12 months, but rather than look at others for reasons why Djokovic is flying, credit should be given to the 28-year-old for consistently upping his game.

A detailed Infosys ATP Beyond the Numbers analysis on the ATP’s official website has given an interesting look at how Djokovic continues to raise his standards.

The most basic measure of tennis performance is surely points won. If you win more points than your opponent then you’re likely to win the match. Well, Djokovic isn’t just winning more points than his opponents, he’s increasing the gap.

2014 = 55% Points Won (Record 61-8)

Result: Seven ATP Tour titles, including one grand slam (Wimbledon)

2015 = 56% Points Won (Record 82-6)

Result: Eleven ATP Tour titles, including three grand slams (Australian Open, Wimbledon, US Open)

2016 so far = 57% Points Won (Record 12-0)

Result: Two ATP titles, including one grand slam (Australian Open)

Djokovic is the best returner of serve on the ATP Tour, and the numbers indicate consistent improvement here too:

Points Won Returning Serve

2014

2015

2016

Returning 1st Serves

33%

34%

35%

Returning 2nd Serves

58%

57%

61%

Break Points Converted

45%

44%

45%

Return Games Won

33%

34%

36%

Return Points Won

43%

43%

45%

Total Points Won

55%

56%

57%

 

Djokovic’s returning has long been one of the cornerstones of his game, but his serving has not always been as strong. No more is that the case though, with the 11-time grand slam winner making significant gains in this area in 2015.

“My serve has gotten better — not in terms of speed, but in terms of precision and accuracy,” Djokovic explained last year.

It should come as no surprise by now that Djokovic has begun 2016 serving even better…

Sevice record 2015 2016
First serve percentage 66% 66%
1st Serve Points Won 74% 76%
2nd Serve Points Won 60% 60%
Break Points Saved 68% 73%
Service Games Won 89% 91%
Total Service Points Won 70% 70%

 

By this stage it’s all looking a little bleak for those looking to challenge Djokovic, and you can be sure that he isn’t resting on his laurels.

Asked after his victory over Murray in the Australian Open final if he felt that there was now a gap between himself and the rest of the field, Djokovic responded:

“I don’t want to allow myself to be in that frame of mind. Because if a person becomes too arrogant and thinks that he’s a higher being or better than everybody else. You can get a big slap from karma very soon. I don’t want that.

“I try to still follow the same kind of lifestyle and routine, you know, things that I’ve been doing all these years that have been helping me to get to where I am. I know being humble and being discreetly – still of course satisfied and proud of what you’ve achieved, but discreetly doing that.

“Of course staying respectful to all my opponents and my colleagues and to this sport is a key to continue on and maintain this level of success and performance. I hope. This is kind of approach to help me to get to where I am. I don’t want to step away from it.”

We have entered into an era of greatness from Djokovic, and it seems a monumental effort will be required to knock him off his perch as he continues to grow from strength to strength.

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