Was Novak Djokovic’s 2011 Season A Total Fluke? It’s Looking That Way
by Sean Randall | August 19th, 2012, 5:46 pm

The big takeaway for me from today’s lopsided Cincinnati final was that on his favorite surface Novak Djokovic just got fed a bagel by a man six years his elder. SIX YEARS!! Absolutely incredible.

At 25, Djokovic should be in the very prime of his tennis career. He was in form. He hadn’t been broken all week and he just blew through the Toronto title. Yet today, he got bageled by an arch rival on his very best surface, something that he just cannot let happen. But credit to Roger Federer who shoved one right down his throat in a 6-0, 7-6 victory to win his fifth Cincinnati title. How’d that taste, Novak?

Really, I don’t care how mentally fatigued Novak was, how do you come out that flat again? Djokovic looked fine Friday and Saturday, and playing Federer should get the blood, the juices and the motivation flowing. But as CBS’s Jim Courier said, from the start the guy just wasn’t “engaged”.

And of late that’s been the pattern. In his last four big stage matches (sorry Toronto), Djokovic’s won ONE SINGLE SET! In lackluster efforts he lost to Federer in four at Wimbledon, then Murray and Del Potro in straights at the Olympics and now this hack job against Federer in the Cincinnati final. Sure, Federer played unbelievably well but Novak has got to start better, correct the double faults and at least manage a break point somewhere in the match. He did up his game in the second but was I never felt Federer was ever in trouble.

So after putting together a spectacular 2011 season and then winning the Australian, Djokovic’s regression continues. I picked Federer to win this match on part because I wasn’t buying into Novak. And the result somewhat confirms my belief that maybe he doesn’t have that DNA needed to stay on top like Federer, Pete Sampras and even Nadal who I think has it but his body fails him. Which for me is too bad because Novak’s got a game that’s up their with the greats. The head isn’t.

Perhaps Novak’s just an entertainer, a showman like Andre Agassi was. Not a GOAT candidate as some have made him out to be based on last year. Might he be happy being the second guy, or the third or the garbage man, collecting titles when his rivals don’t play or are upset? If you watched his post match interview on court with Mary Jo Fernandez one would have thought he had won the match! He looked darn happy and sounded satisfied.

To be fair, though, Novak’s actually been shouting from the rooftops all season that he cannot repeat 2011. It’s almost like he’s been predicting his downfall. But from a sporting point of view, if that’s your mindset, your belief, that you can’t repeat greatness, then how do you ever expect be great? Maybe that was never his goal.

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64 Comments for Was Novak Djokovic’s 2011 Season A Total Fluke? It’s Looking That Way

Pitchaboy Says:

Distinctly unfair to call 2011 a fluke. Unfortunately he has been stopped by a freak of tennis nature called Federer. The fact Federer could get to so many Consecutive QF and SF in grand slams makes him GOAT. Novak and Rafael are not in that class and will never be, as great as they both are.

Sienna Says:

Sean that is a bit rude and controversial.
I agree with Pitchaboy.

Djoker and Rafa are equals and they are not only below but still not on the same page as Federer in the eyes of tennis history.

But Novak has some years left where he can built his resume and cut into Fed’s lead.
Nadal will get more prices then he has at the moemnt but his future doesnot hold more tennis wins then Rogers future. ALso in terms of slam wins. even Garros wins.

Ibrahim Says:

2012 results so far fot the big 3

Federer : 1 GS, 3 MS – H2H against Novak/Rafa : 3/3
Djokovic : 1 GS, 2 MS – H2H against Roger/Rafa : 3/5
Nadal : 1 GS, 2 MS – H2H against Roger/Novak : 4/2

If we look at the numbers, Novak is having a pretty decent season compared to the other top guys.

Maso Says:

Novak won a slam and two masters titles and made it to the Roland Garros final for the first time this year. You can look at it any way you want, that’s already a *hell* of a season. He’s still among the two favorites with Fed to take the US Open so I wouldn’t call last year a fluke. 2011 was just a mindblowing season on Novak’s part, the kind that’s almost impossible to repeat. Nadal did it in 2010 but couldn’t repeat in 2011. It makes it all the more amazing that Roger pulled it off in 04, 05 and 07!!

skeezer Says:

Novak beat the former #1 in the world 7 consecutive times I finals. He earned it in all them. Was it a fluke? No. Will he repeat it? Hard to answer, but he is good, real friggin good !!

autoFilter Says:

I feel like to call Djokovic’s 2011 a fluke is to stretch the definition of the word. He maintained that insanely high level of play for the better part of a year, and it neither arose from nothing nor has dissipated into anything close to mediocrity. Perhaps he won’t be repeating a 42(?) match winning streak, but I for one expect him to again achieve that level for consistent periods of time in the future. I will be surprised if he does not end his career with 5 or 6 more GS titles. Also, it would not shock me if he were to ultimately pass Federer and Nadal in MS trophies.

I think there are so many factors going into his recent apparent mental fatigue such that while his having looked less than warrior-like in several key matches this year hasn’t exactly shouted “Champion DNA”, it by no means leads me to believe that it isn’t a phase he’ll soon transcend.

trufan Says:

I think its too harsh to call Djoke’s 2011 a fluke. Yes, he did win 3 slams and beat the crap out of Nadal in 6 finals in 2011 – but it was still less than Fed’s top years (2004-07). 70-6 – that’s what Djoke did.

Outside of clay, Djoke will still smoke Nadal 9 times out of 10. Even on clay, I think he got very unlucky at the French with the rain. Nadal was frustrated, down a break in the 4th, and had lost 8 straight games. Djoke had him on the ropes when rain saved Nadal.

Polo Says:

I always thought it was. I think even Djokovic thinks it is because he has said in interviews that it was 2011 was a very good year for him and doubted if he could do it again. He is right so far.

trufan Says:

I think Djoke will feel the pressure now at the USO. Both Fed and Murray will give him trouble. He can’t escape both.

I hope Delpo comes in fit and Raonic goes deep.

Tz Says:

Novak’s last year was a fluke? Then rafa’s 2010 was also a fluke! (rafa fans, don’t start jumping and bumping. It’s only for example) Rafa couldn’t win any slam other than FO and failed to win a title outside clay since 2010. Don’t tell me he was unfit each and every matches he played after uso final 2010
And just because federer won multiple slams in a year 5 times doesn’t mean others must do it. Novak’s done great, still doing fine and will do better. If he’s happy with the runner up trophy, what’s wrong with it? I think he knows where his game is, so deep inside he has the satisfaction. Btw, the season is too far from being over, who knows what will happen!

Addicted Says:

2011 wasn’t a fluke. Repeating that year will be ridiculously hard, if not impossible. Djokovic is just having a slightly down period, and is unfortunately facing a resurgent, and extremely comfortable and confident Federer.

Besides, any judgment prior to the US Open is just premature. As far as I can remember, Djoker had the same result last year at Cincinnati too, but won the US Open.

Djoker will be back.

Sean Randall Says:

OK, maybe I was a little harsh on Novak (you should have seen the stuff I deleted!).

My point is, having watched his form and listened to him in the press he just isn’t a “GOAT candidate” if you will. I don’t think he has the make up, the drive to win that guys like Federer, Sampras, Lendl, Connors, McEnroe and Nadal do.

That’s just what I’m seeing. And that’s why I think he’s back to 2008 form (maybe the tour in total has gone back to 2008!).

Last year Novak put the time and the work in and it paid off. Toward the end of last year he took his foot off the pedal, had some fun and now he can’t get that level back. And he may never get it back.

Sure, by most standards Novak is having a great year. And he is. But this should be his time to shine and while I don’t expect him to win 3 Slams every year, I expect him to show up and play well in big matches. But the last few months he just hasn’t.

Pitchaboy Says:

Novak may yet win US Open where he is joint favorite with Federer. It is a slower hard court and Novak and Murray will be at their golden retrieving best.

Tennis Vagabond Says:

Well. Fluke. If a fluke is something that can’t be repeated, then yes. If a fluke is a freak aberration, then no. We all knew 2011 couldn’t be repeated. So we could have called it a fluke while it was occurring. But it didn’t come from nowhere, Novak was always just a shade below that Constant Presence, that Two Headed Monster in 1 and 2 slots. He lifted his game and, for an amazingly prolonged, glorious epoch, reigned supreme. (Still… Fed beat him at the French).
This year, as Brando keeps pointing out, Novak is losing occasionally to the other 4 True Contenders (a looser criteria than the Big Three, and includes Murran and Delpo. But not Tsonga, we’re keeping it real here). He’s beating everyone else. I think its fair to say that, other than Rafa, the others in that group have elevated their games this year. To me, Fed, Murray and Del Potro are all more dangerous than they were in 2011.
So its a mirror of the phenomena that boosted Djokovic in the first place. This time, he lost a tiny bit of his edge while his rivals raised their game.
Djokovic will get his licks in against his rivals.
So what would it take for us to call 2011 a fluke?
If Novak went back to pre-2011: that is, a slam title every few years, a finals every couple years, and one or 2 masters a year. Then I’d say, yes, he is a level below the rulers of the game (whoever they will turn out to be). And Sean would be way ahead of the learning curve.
But if Novak keeps winning a Slam a year, and making other Slam finals, then he is probably at par, long term, with the rulers.
This year, Nole has been inches from multiple majors. And the US, where he reigns, is to come.
So to me, its way premature to call 2011 a fluke. But if Australia 2012 (still part of the streak, really) turns out to be the last slam title for a bit, then maybe more of us will wonder how Sean Randall could be so smart.

Brando Says:

FLUKE? that’s being TOO HARSH on the guy IMHO.

ONE OFF? MOST LIKELY- let’s face it, the record books say that what he did in the first 6 months (losing just ONCE)was something that NO ONE had done in over 25 YEARS!

So naturally, it was a ‘once in a lifetime’ kind of performance!

Polo Says:

It was a fluke year in tennis because two of the greatest who ever played the game were still there. They were in the prime of their careers. Yet Djokovic, won almost everything. To have a year as magnificent as that for somebody considered no better than third best is a fluke. If he did it again this year, it would not have been looked upon as such but he did not, hence, a fluke. He deserved all those wins but it is still a fluke.

Nadal Says:

Fluke is winning 7 finals against an injured player…..I didn’t say it doesn’t mean I was not injured in those finals.

Mike Says:

The genius of Roger is he can figure out his opponents and then use that knowledge to beat them. He has done this time and time again beating everyone (except Nadal) at will. Joker is still awesome but Roger is still greatness.

Steve 27 Says:


Nadal Says:

Of Course, I meant…

Fluke is that I was injured in all those 7 finals…..

I am still working on my English you know….

Angel Says:

I think Novak should be ashamed of himself right now, if he is such a great player how is possible that in the prime of his career on his best surface he gets beaten so convincingly by a 31 years old man who had to work harder the day before and had less rest. Novak you are definitly a big disappointment. Shame on you.

Eric Says:

Disagree. He didn’t just up his game a bit in the second set, he made it very competitive – especially toward the end, when he was serving at 5-5 and Roger played literally perfect points, which against anyone else, or Djokovic in the previous few games, he would have won. But Djokovic got the extra shot and got all three points by blowing crosscourt forehands Roger simply couldn’t touch. He also played very well in the tiebreak, defending his 2nd and 3rd points on serve when it felt like Roger would win them too. Had he gotten a bit lucky in the TB, who knows whether Roger would have gotten the third set – stranger things have happened than a 6-0 opening set followed by a close loss in the next two…

Gaga Says:

People shouldn’t be surprised that Federer is beating Djokovic with ease now. In 2011 despite Djokovic playing at an incredible high level Federer beat him at RG and almost beat him at the USO. Nobody else was that close to Djokovic at the slams last year. Now Federer is playing better than in 2011 and Djokovic is playing worse and the second half of the season has always been Federer’s favorite so it is understandable if Federer beats Djokovic on grass and the medium to fast hardcourts of the second half of the season.

Possum Says:

Total knee-jerk article. How can you fluke an entire season. Dumb!

Eric Says:

The real question is which was a bigger fluke: Sean getting a prediction right, or Djokovic’s 2011 season…

Ngentot Says:

@Angel, who are you to decide whether Novak should be ashamed of himself or not? Besides, he won’t read your useless preach, LOL. Just calm down, this is just sport: You can’t expect a player to win all the time no matter how good he/she is. What Novak has achieved so far this year is nothing to be ashamed of. Believe me.

Ben Pronin Says:

Either Federer is amazing for playing so well at 31, or everyone on tour is pathetic for losing to a guy who is much older than them. It can’t be both.

Kimmi Says:

I agree with eric, that was a very close match and those FH cross courts were insane. the tie breaker is separated by one point. one. if he was lucky, djokovic could have easily won that tie breaker.

djokovic is still playing very well, and this is his best surface. USO will be very close. As djokovic has said in his post match interview that USO surface suits him better than cincy as it is a little bit slower.

So we will see. I am hoping federer wins the USO though.

Eric Says:

We’re also all forgetting Murray all of a sudden. Not to mention, Delpo is finally getting to be fairly regular in the QFs and even SFs (now that Rafa’s gone, haha) of tournaments again. I don’t really believe he has the capacity to be a serious challenge to the Big Four (talk about flukes, O 2009 USO) but he’s bound to break through now and again. The USO isn’t just a contest between Roger and Novak!

Michael Says:

This is a bit premature I would say – writing off
Novak. His performance has not been all that bad this year. Only that he has failed in the finals or semis compared to the incredible year he had last. He won the Australian, reached the French Open final where he give a tough fight to Nadal and lost in the Semis in the Wimbledon to Roger. Also, he won Miami and was a finalist in some more Masters tournament. This is a performance which every Tennis player would yearn for. But Novak is paying the price for his greatness and there is too much expectations on him. I am sure he will bounce back big on Tennis stage may be even the US Open to silence his critics. Do not write off players like Novak. This is what they did to Roger, Nadal and they prove the critics wrong. Now Novak may do not that yet again. He is a Great player.

Kimberly Says:

Djokovic still having a good year. Problem when you are roger, rafa or novak is anything other than a tournament win is a failure tonthebpublic and probably to the player. Although Novak seemed ok with the loss at the French, maybe because it was his first time in the final didn’t see him at the trophy ceremony today, was he mad, or ok. Djokovic usually looks like he shakes off a loss pretty easy, like by the time he is at the net.

The Great Davy Says:

They say my post- U.S. open 2009 and pre-Australia 2010 season was ‘fluke’. Just look at me now!

David Says:


Too harsh on Djokovic. It’s a matchup issue with Fed. Just as Fed struggles with Nadal, Djoker will always struggle with Roger if Fed is on because Fed thrives on flattish groundies.

But looking ahead to the Open, I’m ready to pick Raonic to make the final. Obviously only if he’s not on the same side as Fed. Milos will be No. 1 within two years. Maybe the next No. 1?

Angel Says:

David come on, Raonic is good but not that good, he’ll probably lose to Del Potro, Murray, Djokovic or Federer. Even Isner can take him out. The next number one should be Murray at some point.

Eric Says:

But unlike JMDP, AM, ND, and RG, Raonic still has a lot of improvement and mental growth ahead of him. I kind of rolled my eyes too, but it’s perfectly possible to see him as no. 1 in a couple years – he plateaued for a while, but the past few months have seen some new Raonic milestones.

Eric Says:

By RG I meant RF, haha. The player, not the tournament in whose finals he always loses.

laslo Says:

The next *new* number one will be Raonic, after Nadal Fed and Djokovic fade away.

David Says:


I can’t see Murray getting to No. 1. Did you see his match with Raonic this year on clay? Raonic already has bigger, heavier groundies, a much better serve (well, better serve than anyone in the history of tennis outside of maybe Ivanisevic, Karlovic and Isner), and just bullied Andy around the court.

The weakness I see in Milos’ game is court positioning. He’s got that Roddick positioning way behind the baseline and I think that’s the bad influence of Clavet. He might need to get a different coach to reach his full potential.

alison Says:

I think its an unfair to call Novaks year a fluke year,maybe a once in a lifetime year thats impossible to be repeated by most players,(Roger been the exception to the rule),hes still so far had a pretty solid year,winning a GS and a couple of other titles,so not too shabby,and the years still young,its not as if hes lost to nobodys either,the only players hes lost to Rafa,Roger,Andy,Delpo,Tipso all top 10 players it happens,you cant be expected to beat these players each and every week,i think people are been a little bit hard on him.

Sienna Says:

If there is a fluke year among the top players it has to be 2010. Nadal didnot show the excelance required to win the fast hardcourts. Yet somehow he managed to win Wimbledon and US Open that year. Obviously helped by a somewhat slumping Fed. I think Fed would have taken atleast 1 final if he was to meat Rafa at Wimbly and US Open. Perhaps he wuld have won 2 as was seen in the year end championship where he won quit easiley against Rafa.

So Rafa’s 2010 was a fluke also because he never showd like he was capable of winning WImbly and US Open again. Losing fairly easy against Novak.

Also supported by the fact that Fed was able to get 2MP on serve. Proving that Fed was a better player that year then Rafa at US Open.

Novak won his slams in 2011 supported by a great deal of winning the master events.

So Novak’s 2011 no fluke. Maybe US Open (Federer)
and Nadal’s 2010 fluke indeed.

Sienna Says:

was to meet Rafa……

max Says:

What Novak did last year was staggering, let alone mauling Nadal in six finals in a row. Blame Novak for Nadal’s knee problems. Federer, who had nothing to do with all that and the super talent he has cashed out in 2012.

Milan Says:

Sean Randall Says:

“I don’t think he has the make up, the drive to win that guys like Federer, Sampras, Lendl, Connors, McEnroe and Nadal do.”

Connors’s 1974 season can be compared to Djokovic’s 2011 season. You know what? Connors failed to win any slam in 1975.

Polo Says:

Novak winning in seven straight finals against Nadal, including Wimbledon and US Open when he could hardly beat him in majors in previous years was so unexpected, hence, a fluke. The following year, 2012, he could hardly defend any of those, hence, a fluke. He can make an argument against it by defending his US Open title but until then, 2011 was an aberration in tennis years, hence, a fluke.

RZ Says:

I don’t think Novak’s 2011 was a fluke. A lot of it had to do with motivation and belief. Many of his losses to Nadal and Federer in the 2008-2010 seasons were close calls that he could have won (“the massacre in Madrid” and the 2008 Olympics semis come to mind) but he didn’t have enough belief to cross the finish line. In 2011 he had more belief in himself and was able to take those wins. But in 2012 he had the pressure of repeating his year and defending all those points, which one could argue is more difficult than going on an incredible run, along with Nadal feeling motivated to stop him and Federer playing renewed tennis. Also, Nole may not have recovered emotionally from the death of his grandfather earlier this year.

Humble Roger Says:

Djokovic is one of greatest player.

Novak kicks arrogant hgamesmanship Nadal in 7 finals all.

I hope Djokovic’s champion in RG

Huh Says:

hahaha, people really thinking that the roger who couldn’t beat berdych in wimbledon 10 would have beaten nadal at wimbledon that year, hahahahahaha!!!!!!

and oh, nadal mighta handed federer even a runner-up plate at USO 10, considering that nadal had a fairly easy route to final, and was playing his absolute best in USO with an almost untouchable serve! fed was lucky he didn’t reach USO, otherwise nadal mighta beaten roger there too and gifted him a runner-up career slam!

fed’s form of 2010 was pretty average,no way he would beat the sharp n confident nadal that year at USO! to add to reality, nadal has just handed federer his @$$ at madrid 2010! wake up dreamers, from dreaming about that average and shaky 2010 fed beating nadal of 2010 at wimbldon or USO, hehehehehe!

Michael Says:

lame, sean. calling 2011 a ‘fluke’ is a real disappointment. you’re entitled to your opinion, and from the tone it sounds like you’ve never been a djokovic fan, fair enough, but come on. djokovic has lost two significant matches to federer this year and one to nadal. he also beat federer at the french open handily in straight sets to better his 2011 result and reach the finals for the first time in his career. he successfully defended his AO title to start the season and just won a not insignificant tune-up master’s series event in toronto (which you seem to degrade as well) right after a dispiriting loss at the olympics and at wimbledon before it. what gives? anything less than 4 majors and total domination of federer seems to damn djokovic in your eyes to the status of an ‘entertainer’ also-ran–a familiar refrain from hardcore fed fans even during the height of djokovic’s dominating performance in 2011. again, you’re entitled to your interpretation of the results and draw whatever conclusion you’d like to, and i agree i was dismayed as well by what seemed to be a complete lack of mental strength and will to win during the first set of the 60,76 final, but really? and agassi was just a ‘show man’? how about you show some respect? full disclosure: i’m not particularly fond of federer on or off the court, i often think he gets a free pass in the sports media for questionable sportsmanship (his crying all the way through nadal’s post-GS win at AO in 2009 and upstaging what should have been nadal’s victory celebration, his snarky press conference comments about other players both in victory and ESPECIALLY in defeat) but i’ll never question his masterful play and commitment to be the best, even in his slumps–which he, too, has had for the last three years. to suggest, as you seem to, that djokovic isn’t committed to being the best he can be in a sport he’s devoted his life to is just unfair. he’s human. he loses sometimes. if he seemed upbeat after the loss, crediting his opponent’s great play, i don’t see why it’s somehow criminal or difficult to understand or makes him less a champion. i found it to be a healthy perspective for him not to dwell on the negative or degrade the exceptional play of his opponent with ridiculous notions of ‘revenge’ (which some of the pre-delporto semi interviewers tried to bait him into admitting). i know i’m probably i n the minority, but i find djokovic and nadal to be two of the best examples of good sportsmanship and mind-set out there. federer, on the other hand, whether he ends the year #1 in ‘points’ or not, completes this brilliantly played ‘twilight’ comeback or not, will never spend a week of his career as #1 in the sportsmanship department as far as i’m concerned. and that’s what really counts in the end for me at least. in the meantime, sean, cut djokovic some slack–he’s doing his best and i’ll trust him over you to diagnose it any other way.

Michael Says:

your ‘qualification’ of your original article (‘you should have seen the stuff i deleted!’ hardeeharhar!) just makes it worse. the problem is simply that you frame your infantile, shallow argument in a GOAT context–that’s not a context that djokovic himself is talking about, living inside of, or considering nor should he be. he plays tennis. he wins or he loses. he makes incredible shots to save break points or he goes down 6-0. he’s human. i don’t hear him crowing, claiming or braying about being the GOAT (unlike the subtle ways mr. swiss likes to remind us all of when he can slip it under the radar at a press conference). i’d hate to read the psychoanalytic musing and, no doubt, reaming you’d give murray for not winning a major yet despite playing top level tennis for years and having understandable challenges in his way, both self imposed and out of his control. actually, you probably have. glad i missed it. too catty and disrespectful for my taste, thanks.

letsgo Says:

You don’t fluke your way through a year’s worth of results. It isn’t possible, it’s not what the word describes. What is possible, and I think probable, is that the mental/physical focus required of Djokovic to reach the absolute pinnacle of his game is very demanding. When success in your sport requires dedicating every waking moment to some facet of preparation; when the vast majority of satisfaction in daily life is built around success on court; I believe that kind of drive wears on athletes in individual sports. There are days off in team sports, or at least margin for error and underperformance. As we know, tennis margins are notoriously narrow. It seems there are fewer shades of this zone for Djokovic than a Federer. He is either wholesale in (2011), or not (pre-2011). Either way his ability and achievements are still incredible.

Call it Fed’s God-given talent, mindset, whatever, but I think he is able to play near his highest level while expending far less overall (not just physical) energy. That’s why Djokovic and Nadal are greats in their own right, but theirs are moments in time. For Fed, greatness appears to be his equillibrium.

Just my thoughts. Big Nole and Fed fan.

Thangs Says:

Obviously Sean & Co are fed fans…They couldn’t control their happiness when their fav is running on the winning tide…

Poor Nadal and Nole. They don’t have a place in Tennis-x. How on the earth Nole’s 2011 was fluke?? After all, Nole was leading the 2012 race points until saturday…Shame on you guys!

Hope Murray or Nole wins USO.

Tennislover Says:

Djoko remains the 2012 race leader even after the Cincy final. He leads Fed by 165 points.

skeezer Says:


Do you need to be pointed to the countless pro Rafa and Nole articles in the Tennis X archive, many of which were reported HERE first? You have Fed fans complaing in here too of this article, so don’t go all trying to “categorize” writers and who there fav is, it just shows your colors, and I can point you to other websites where the bias for certain players is sickening.. I think if you read most of the comments here, they got the picture on this one, and the Murray one also.

alison Says:

Huh AUGUST 20TH 11.47AM,completely agree with your post,on this forum you here Rafa fans trying to belittle Rogers achievements due to the fact Rafa failed to make a final,so the trophy win is meaningless etc etc,well that argument works the other way around too,Rafas achievements cant be diminished out of hand because Fed failed to make the finals,in 2010 Fed was stopped by Soderling at the FO,Berdych at Wimbledon,and Nole at the USO,pure and simple because those guys stopped him because those guys were better than him,the winner wins the looser looses end of,silly argument.

Reyals Says:

Fluke indeed.

jane Says:

J-Mac: first slam at 20 years, 1979/ last at 25, 1984 – finished with 7 slams (won over a 5 year span)

Lendl: first 24, 1984 / last 29, 1990 – finished with 8 slams (6 yr span)

Connors: first 22, 1974 / last 31, 1983 – finished with 8 slams (9 yr span)

Sampras: first 20, 1991/last 31, 2002 – finished with 14 slams (9 yr span)

Average span of slam winning years for these 4 men – 7.25 years
Average age of 1st slam – 21.5 years
Average age of last slam – 28/9 years

Nole: first slam 20 years, 2008/last slam ? – has 5 slams during a 5 yr span.

When compared to the 4 greats’ numbers above, Nole has at least 2 more years in which he could feasibly win slams. If he wins two more, he equals McEnroe (and Wilander, Newcombe, etc). If he wins 3 more he equals Connors and Lendl (and Agassi, Perry, Rosewall etc). Even if he wins one more, he’s tied with Becker, Edberg and others. All of this company is not too shabby methinks. Even at 5 slams, he’s surpassed guys like Courier, Safin, Hewitt, Roddick, etc.

Yet, according to Sean, Nole doesn’t have the “drive to win” that these 4 players above do? Nole has been playing when Federer and Nadal are dominating and he still has 5 slams and has reached number 1 – who else can say that? He has worked hard and has consistently looked for ways to beat Fed and Rafa. He has met them so far a combined 20 times at slams, and 61 times overall (winning 27 of those matches – almost half). Nole has come up against two of the greatest players ever and he has fought to make his way and win important titles. There are plenty of talented players on the tour we cannot say the same about.

So back to this “drive to win” thing…sigh. This is rather easily disproven given his results, already, at the age of 25 – including 31 titles, fully over half of which are slams and masters.

I think Nole has shown a drive to win and his consistency over the years has been remarkable. Knocking on the door, being in the mix, knocking down the door. He’s done it all. Since 2007 he has been a top three player, living at the top for a year, and now at number 2. But he’s still number 1 in the 2012 race, so I guess he’s alright, and pretty hungry to keep winning.


jane Says:

*Sampras 11 yr span.

skeezer Says:

^ Well thought out post and great research. to add how can you win like he had in 2011 and not have “the drive” to win? He was driving wins fine that year, mowing down everything in sight, and this year he is right there.

double sigh

MMT Says:

I have to agree with Jane here – I think his 2011 shows he definitely has the drive to be an all time great. The changes he made to his game since 2010 have made him a far better player than he was, and I think he has the motivation, and most importantly the right focus, to continue to improve. I don’t think he’s won his last slam either, but I don’t think it will be possible to determine if 2011 was a fluke until his best years are indisputably behind him or until he retires.

BTW, Jane Sampras’ first major was in 1990, making the span between first an last majors 12 years based on how the other spans were calculated. But I also think you may be short changing him with how many years of majors he has left. He doesn’t really beat up his body like Nadal does – I don’t believe he’s had any extended injury absences in his career that I’m aware of, aside from a back problem at the end of last year, which seemed to be mostly from fatigue.

David Says:


I think Nole’s sportsmanship after losses might contribute to that line of thinking. It’s easy to assume that he just doesn’t mind losing quite as much as Nadal or Fed or Sampras or whoever because most of the other great players can’t hide their disappointment/anger as well as he can.

Clijsters was another one whose great sportsmanship ended up being a negative. People questioned how much she really wanted it simply because she was so gracious in defeat.

jane Says:

Thanks for clarifying MMT. I was just basing how many slam winning years Nole could have left on the avg span of the 4 players Sean noted (besides Fed & Nadal because they are still active), but most definitely, he could play longer and thus have a longer potential slam-winning span. We’ll see.

Another little tidbit for Sean, from Fed’s wiki page – no one has met Fed more at slams than Nole, and the H2H is a respectable 6-5 for Fed:

“The Federer–Djokovic rivalry is the largest rivalry in Grand Slam history with a record 11 matches played against each other and Federer leading 6–5. Djokovic is the only player besides Nadal to have defeated Federer more than once in a Grand Slam tournament since 2004, the only player besides Nadal to defeat Federer in consecutive grand slam tournaments (2010 US Open and 2011 Australian Open) and the only player besides Nadal who has double-figure career wins over Federer. Djokovic is one of two players (the other again being Nadal) currently on tour to have defeated Federer in straight sets at a Grand Slam (2008 Australian Open, 2011 Australian Open, 2012 French Open) and the only player to do it three times”

Federer, Serena: Pre-Draw US Open Favorites? Says:

[…] guy with that much game and on such a run – he just won Toronto, hadn’t lost serve all week – he can’t let a rival like Federer bagel him in a final on hardcourts. To me, that signals something just isn’t right somewhere. (Where’s the girlfriend […]

Brando Says:

‘- no one has met Fed more at slams than Nole, and the H2H is a respectable 6-5 for Fed:’


for the curious:

2-8 is that particular stat. I’ll let those who like quiz questions guess in who’s favour. :-)

Noha Says:

“Might he be happy being the second guy, or the third or the garbage man, collecting titles when his rivals don’t play or are upset?” How could you say that you disrespectful,rude thing!! Shame on you!!!

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