Djokovic Saves 5 MPs To Steal Shanghai Title Away From Murray And Solidify No. 1 Ranking [Video]
by Staff | October 14th, 2012, 10:39 am

Is there now another must-see rivalry in men’s tennis? After a second straight epic finale, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray are making a very strong case. Today, Djokovic nudged past Murray 5-7, 7-6 (11), 6-3 to capture his first Shanghai Masters 1000 title and extend his points lead in the 2012 ranking race.

“It’s difficult to judge who was better because it was so close throughout the whole match,” said Djokovic after the 3-hour, 21-minute win, the longest 3-set final of the year. “We had so many rallies in three and a half hours; for a best-of-three set match it is a very long time. Could have easily gone the other way. He was five match points up. When I faced those match points, I tried to focus on each individually. He was so close to the victory that I cannot say I was the better player.”

Djokovic’s chances for the title looked bleak as Murray jumped out to a set and a break lead – Novak obliterated a racquet after losing the break at 5-5 in the first set. Just two points from defeat, Novak’s day wasn’t done saving the match with a clutch tweener to break back for 5-5. As Murray began to tighten the World No. 2 dug even deeper to get back on serve and force a second set breaker. Murray held not one but FIVE match points during the 21-minute cliffhanger, yet couldn’t convert prompting the Scot to smash his own racquet after Novak took it 13-11.

With momentum now on Novak’s side, the Serb grabbed a break in the seventh game and then hung on for win.

The Shanghai title gives Djokovic seven different Masters 1000 titles, more than Roger Federer or Rafael Nadal’s six. The title was also his 33rd of his career (13th Masters 1000), 5th of 2012 and the victory over Murray gives him an ATP-leading 70 match wins on the season.

After losing a 5-set thriller in New York, Djokovic now pushes ahead 9-7 over Murray in the growing series between childhood rivals.

In the No. 1 race, with Federer losing in the semifinals yesterday, Djokovic extends his 2012 points lead over the Swiss to 2,155 ranking points with just three events left on the season for Roger.

“I’m trying to focus now on the end of the season,” said Djokovic. “I need to play well indoors. I need to try to stay consistent with my results and eventually get a shot at No. 1 of the world. It’s my biggest objective in this moment. It’s something I’m aiming for. Obviously this is going to be a huge confidence boost and is going to help me in the race for No. 1. As I said, it’s still not done. I still have to play well indoors.”

Murray, who was 12-0 at the tournament with titles the last two years, has lost his last two matches – Milos Raonic at Tokyo last weekend and now today – after holding matchpoints.

“It was a disappointing one to lose,” said Murray. “I’ve lost tougher matches than that before in the biggest events. So I’m sure I’ll recover from it pretty well.

“It’s not like I threw the match away. I didn’t make any real glaring errors or anything. When I had my chances, he just served very well and hit a couple of lines when he needed to.”

Djokovic, who has won 10 straight matches (16 of last 17), will now have two weeks off before returning for the Paris Masters while Murray joins Federer next week in Basel.

Andy Murray’s post match interview:

Novak Djokovic’s post match interview:

Djokovic’s tweener 2 points from losing:

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65 Comments for Djokovic Saves 5 MPs To Steal Shanghai Title Away From Murray And Solidify No. 1 Ranking [Video]

Arun Says:

Federer did win in Shanghai twice when it was held as the YEC and he also won the Madrid Indoors which was replaced by the shanghai masters(madrid was moved to the clay season) so federer HAS WON 7/9 masters.nadal won the madrid indoors too so technically theyre both champions here.

Leon Says:

Once again, bravo Novak!
But “the Shanghai title gives Djokovic seven different Masters 1000 titles, more than Roger Federer or Rafael Nadal’s six” statement is not correct. Roger completed 7 different Masters titles last year, as autumn Madrid HC 2006 and present spring Madrid clay are obviously two DIFFERENT tourneys. There is no need to invent artificial records for Novak by diminishing Roger’s ones, and Novak has plenty of time to win the remaining two somehow.

Leon Says:

Nadal never won three of 9: Miami, Cincinnati and Paris. So he is at 6/9.

trufan Says:

2013 belongs to Djokovic and Murray. That will be the riveting rivalry next year. They are both 25, at their very peak. On Clay, Nadal will be in that group too, but hard to imagine him beating these two outside of clay now. Even on clay, I think they take it to him. Djokovic already did that in 2011.

I do hope Fed plays a few good matches against these guys next year, which might be his last year on the tour.

Can’t see anyone that good amongst the younger guys yet. Nadal showed up pretty early in 2005 winning the FO, just two years after Fed won his first slam. I think he was just 18 then. So there’s been competition all the time. Will there be vacuum in a couple of years, when Fed is retired, Nadal is near retired, and Djoke/Murray are past their peak? Raonic? Maybe he picks up. Berdych Tsonga are both Nadal’s age, so not much hope there. Or from Ferrer, who is 30. DelPo?? I hope so…. Tipsarevic, Isner – Nah.

This may be the oldest top 10 list in a long time. And the oldest top 5 list. When was the last time ALL top 5 players were 25+, with two 30+ in there????? Or is 30 the new 25??

Ngentot Says:

Madrid Masters 1000 may have been conducted on different surface and time, but it,s still the same tournament. It’s still called Madrid Masters 1000, isn’t it?

madmax Says:

Congrats to Novak and to Andy -a great final. Those 5 match points were just gripping. It couldn’t get much tighter between these two.

It’s a shame someone had to lose. Both winners today.

Leon Says:

Moreover, even with the same tournament director.
Whatever you want.

Dave Says:

This was a match that Murray squandered, that he should have won by the 134th point of the match (which would have made it even shorter than Murray-Federer’s semfinal). On at least three of those five match points, Murray had shots to win the match but didn’t take it or took the wrong shot (Djokovic seemed to be looking for some of these shot based on Murray’s patterns).

As much as this match builds on the hype that Djokovic is able to overcome match points, the fact remains that he still loses the *vast* majority of matches where he faced match points. It’s good drama when he wins these few matches he should have lost… but won only after he reached the point where he had nothing left to lose and was able to relax. His sports psychologist taught him well. Luck plays a part since a micro mishit ends the match.

These sudden surges in performance by Murray and Djokovic do not happen by magic. One of the things Lendl did in February was hook up Murray with the “psychologist who put Andy Murray on winning path to US Open success.”

Murray has done very well in 2012. In Spring, I backed Andy to succeed this year while some prematurely wrote him off. In early March I said “I have a lot more confidence of the quicker impact of Ivan Lendl on Murray’s game versus a celebrity coach like Paul Annacone on Fed’s game.” That’s because by the mid 1980s Lendl had put together a system and team to maximize his abilities and improve his results — it was revolutionary and ahead of its time in those days. Murray is benefiting from Lendl’s experience.

However, in the big picture, 2013 does not yet belong to Murray — unless he can win at least the World Tour Finals, the last big prize remaining. Yes Murray did win the US Open, Olympic gold and Brisbane 250… as well as Murray reached Wimbledon final, Australian semifinal, Shanghai final and Miami final. However outside outside of these events his performances were mediocre to poor: e.g., Indian Wells R2, Rome R3, Cincinnati R3, Toronto R3. It seems he skipped Madrid to avoid the blue clay (though injury was his excuse).

Murray was subpar in the first half of the year before Wimbledon. Year-to-date points in mid-June: Murray (2,600 points) was only ranked fifth in ranking points won in 2012, well behind fourth-placed David Ferrer (3,395) and third-placed Federer (5,085). People are easily attracted by a few stunning performances but even Murray admits that overall he had not yet done what is needed to be player of the year.

In the big picture, part of the reason both Murray and Djokovic did so well in Shanghai is that they were both able to play warm up events in Tokyo and Beijing respectively — because they were not burned up by Davis Cup after US Open. Murray and Djokovic were Davis Cup truants the entire 2013 — both skipped their country’s two ties this year in order to fully focus on their ATP tour goals.

Federer with six titles on all three surfaces and both indoors/outdoors — including prestigious Wimbledon and three Masters 1000 — as well as a clear lead over Murray in the year-to-date rankings, remains to date more consistent, more wins and more deserving than Murray. I never bought into the Olympics hype, which Murray won with home advantage anyway.

2013 is not over yet. True it’s highly likely Djokovic will finish year-end No.1 by Paris or probably during the WTF RR (I did predict that Djokovic will probably finish No. 1 IF he leaves Shanghai with a 1,600 YTD point lead over Federer, which he has). However, a very slim chance remains for Federer: Murray must end up in Djokovic’s half in Paris as well as in the WTF round robin and/or another player steps up to eliminate Djokovic early in Paris… and of course Federer has to win Basel, Paris, WTF (while avoiding long, tiring matches). Everybody loses, sometime, and Djokovic is not immune.

Next year will probably be wide open. I don’t see it as a two horse Djokovic-Murray show. Murray has a good chance to reach No.1 sometime between Rome to Wimbledon, up till Cincinnati (remember: Lendl was a three-time French Open champion in Wilander’s era). I wouldn’t prematurely write off Federer, who might surprise us at the Australian Open as well as in French Open (if so, then in the rankings as well). Next year I expect two to three players either in the mix or giant killers, such as Delpo, Raonic, Berdych and one or two others we didn’t expect — it’s long overdue. I predicted Raonic would end the year around No. 12 — and he has a chance to finish around No. 10.

Skeezer Says:

Congrats to Nole fans

Dave Says:

I forgot to mention in my 2:33 post: I expect Nadal already has a plan for 2013 with the goal of finishing the year No. 1.

And, oh yes, congrats to Nole fans… and Murray fans as well. This was one of those titles that could be shared between both players.

Brando Says:

“This was one of those titles that could be shared between both players.” VERY TRUE dave. Even nole said there wasn’t anything between the 2- and stats back it up also: 51/49 is points won difference! These 2 are neck and neck IMHO regarding their matchup!

alison Says:

Dave Thanks for saying that about Rafa,i dont know if it will come true,but never the less its great to here you say such positive things about the guy,that should mean alot to the Rafa fans on this forum.

Brando Says:


IF Andy fails to win the Paris Masters in the coming week, this season will be the first time in OVER 4 YEARS that Andy has failed to win a single master series shield.

He won his first one in Cincy 2008. Would be somewhat ironic though that he won a slam instead lol!

Hope he wins in Paris (although his record there isn’t great TBH) as i think he deserves one for the year!

Good luck Muzza!

jane Says:

Very close match and slim margins indeed; neither guy was serving his best but that’s partly because of what great returners they are.

Aces: Nole 3 / Andy 4
Doubles: Nole 4 / Andy 3
Winners: Nole 32 / Andy 30
UEs: Nole 38 / Andy 48
BPs: Nole 6 of 13 won / Andy 5 of 6 won
Serve points won: Nole 61% / Andy 56%
Return points won: Nole 44% / Andy 39%
Points: Nole 119 / Andy 113

subo Says:

nadal to finish first right stop the blood doping injuries and recoveries he is juicing big time nadal is a fraud just like armstrong who was caught so will nadal

alison Says:

Subo this threads for fans to congratulate Novak,so stop bloody trolling for once.

Wog boy Says:


Thanks for that, that tells us that after all Nole was a BETTER player……just:)
After long tennis time I woke up happy man, this morning,

jane Says:

Just by the teensiest of hairs, Wog Boy; the keys were probably the UEs and that Nole served better as the match went on. Saving all those MPs was rather important too, throwing caution to the wind.

racquet Says:

jane – just for you:

Same attitude as 18 years ago ;)

jane Says:

Awww, thanks racquet. Love the little tennis star pictures. This is for you:

Dave Says:

Brando: You’re right, not much to separate them in the end (except Nole was the slightly better server). Had Murray closed the deal on the first match point, I think he could have had 54/46 in total points, as he was the slightly better player up to that point.

Alison: Rafa and his team have always been pretty logical about what they have tried to accomplish, even if they don’t broadcast it. I’m absolutely sure he’ll do well, at least in the first half of the year. They’re too smart not to use the downtime to make changes in how Nadal plays the game as well as equipment changes. It’s in the second half of the year where he can surge forward, without pressure. I wouldn’t worry about him. In fact, if I were a fan I would celebrate that he is taking time out to presumably make the changes.

lazslo Says:

Remarkable, the size of Novak’s cojones! He was just so clutch in every way.

claire Says:

“The Shanghai title gives Djokovic seven different Masters 1000 titles, more than Roger Federer or Rafael Nadal’s six”
the masters had changed so many times dates, locations, names, etc that the only constant its always had been 9 in each year.
Federer had to win 3 (monte)
Djokovic had to win 3 (monte) and 7 (cinci)
Nadal had to win 2 (india) 7 (cinci) and 9 (paris)

Djokovic had just clinched year end #1 , he had 2200 points advantage, greater than 2 weeks ago, only federer had a slim hope but he need to win basel, paris, finals… and even if he win all, djokovic only had to reach the semis at paris and finals to shut the door… noting that without counting blu clay madrid he had reached the final of the last 6 masters 1000 he had played, i give him a clear 90% chance to secure year end number 1 in paris (even if he dont win it)

Margot Says:

My favourite journalist’s “take” on the rivalry

Arun Says:

When was the last time a player lost a masters final after having held c’ship points?Rome 2006 if i’m correct?

Chobbs Says:

I thInk it’s tough to say that fed has only won six out of 9 masters series just coz they moved one or two around. If you go by that rule then they may all have 2 or 3 in 2050 if they move them to India and brasil etc . By that rule you could also say that fed had won hamburg so he’s won 8

alison Says:

Thanks Dave @7.58pm 14th October,great post.

Dave Says:

Djokovic leaves Shanghai with a 2,155 year-to-date point lead over Federer. However, it’s effectively a 2,175-point lead since Federer’s Davis Cup points (25 points) are non-countable.

Since Federer has maximum 3,000 points from his three remaining events (Basel, Paris, WTF),
Djokovic can finish this year ranked No. 1 if he wins more than 825 points (from the 2,500 available points in his final two events at Paris and World Tour Finals). This presumes Federer wins his next three indoor events (Basel, Paris, World Tour Finals). If Djokovic wins Paris (1,000 points > 825 points), it’s all over.

However if Federer fails to secure the maximum points, then it reduces the threshold that Djokovic must reach. For example, if Federer is runner up at Basel 500, he gets 300 points (which is 200 points less than the maximum 500 for the title). This means Djokovic needs to win more than 625 points (825 – 200) to secure the No.1 ranking.

For Federer to finish No. 1, he needs help from the draws at Paris and World Tour Finals (specifically Murray in Djokovic’s Paris half and the WTF round robin, as well as more dangerous players drawn into Djokovic’s early rounds than the slew of puffballs he has recently faced before the semifinals/finals). Federer had Murray in his half at the US Open and Shanghai, so it’s fair that Djokovic gets Murray in his half, preferably in Paris.

Because Djokovic was absent from Davis Cup throughout 2012 (i.e., no burden of Davis Cup), Novak was able to play all nine Masters 1000 events as well as Beijing (Monte Carlo, Toronto and Beijing gave Djokovic an extra 2,100 points that Federer sacrificed). On the other hand, Federer played two Davis Cup ties (USA, Netherlands) and the Olympics final this year, which had consequences on his schedule, given his age: Roger had to sacrifice the Monte Carlo Masters, Toronto Masters and Beijing 500 events, costing him up to 2,500 ranking points. In 2010, the last year that Djokovic fully committed to Davis Cup, Novak had his worst year on the ATP tour since reaching No. 3 in 2007. Playing Davis Cup tends to affect results on the ATP tour, that’s why top players tend to skip Davis Cup in the years they do well on the ATP tour.

Regarding the Masters 1000 events, Federer and Nadal both won Madrid indoors (whose slot was taken over by Shanghai) and Hamburg (whose slot was taken over by Madrid clay).

Margot Says:

Dave: Re Andy in Fed’s half, I still think Fed’s the best indoor court player around. Doubt if Andy can beat him indoors. Fed suddenly seems to get a massive dose of confidence in that situation and his shots hit the lines with unerring regularity.
Travelling hopefully of course…..;)

Big Cheddar Says:

Two great players and as you say, probably a new era to be enjoyed. Either could win and the idea of chance is a lesson for coaches to learn. Discussed here on The impress coaching Blog.

alison Says:

Nole joined the tweener club,although not an outright winner ala Roger/Rafa still a great shot anyway, loved Rafas tweener lob last year against Nole at IW last year,but have to say nobody does it as often or as elegantly as Roger.

Alok Says:

@Dave: “For Federer to finish No. 1, he needs help from the draws at Paris and World Tour Finals (specifically Murray in Djokovic’s Paris half and the WTF round robin, as well as more dangerous players drawn into Djokovic’s early rounds than the slew of puffballs he has recently faced before the semifinals/finals). Federer had Murray in his half at the US Open and Shanghai, so it’s fair that Djokovic gets Murray in his half, preferably in Paris.”

If we were to believe that the draws are indeed rigged to benefit some players, especially Fed, then the draw in Shanghai would be a perfect example to show this is not the case. It was more like it being rigged to keep Fed from retaining his No.1 ranking and favoring his peers.

I’m in agreement with everything you mentioned with respect to Fed playing Davis Cup while the other two players opted out of not playing DC to save themselves for the MS tournaments. Fed fans know this, but I’m positive that there will be many arguments put forward to counter that fact.

There’s a group of fans which claim that the only reason Fed won Wimbledon was due to the roof being closed, because he likes the indoors and excels in those conditions. It was also mentioned that Fed fans should do a rain dance during his SF match in Shanghai, geez.

I finally got around to watching the Shanghai finals, which was a break-fest in the first set, not to mention the extremely long rallies. The time between points by both servers was over the 25 secs limit, 32 and 29 secs respectively. As the match wore on the time shown was 35 and 32 secs respectively between points, thereby making that match to be the longest in duration for ATP matches for 2012.

I can’t blame the players because the umpire was very poor at enforcing the rules, not to mention the bad calls. The commentators mentioned that the new rule for 2013 will help the umpires to enforce it with with some authority. However, if the umpires are not paying attention to the time in between points rule presently in force, what’s going to make them keep track in 2013? it’s a habit they’ve already cultivated to ignore the time rule and a new rule will definitely not change their lax umpiring

Bobby Says:

Leon, Nadal has won Madrid while it was held on hard court as well as on clay.So,according to your theory,Nadal also has won 7 different masters.

Arun Says:

@Bobby but Federer’s won Paris.Rafa still hasnt won in Paris,Miami and Cincinnati hence he’s only won 6 different masters.

andrea Says:

watched the match late last night. murray has to be bummed out, no matter what he says. i can’t believe the rally including the tweener when novak was down 5/4, 30-0. that’s some moxie!

some good rallies….they both tend to grind out points.

jimmy Says:

Some people act like Murray was the real winner of this match but was unlucky. To my thinking, when you have 5 match points and the other guy plays better on the big points, you lost the match. Same thing in the AO semis. I play a guy who does that to me and eventually you realize it’s not luck.

El Flaco Says:

I was hoping for some major drama at the WTF with Fed and Djoko fighting for year end #1, but it looks like Djoko will have it wrapped up before the tournament.

Nina Says:

Good win Djoko! I’m sure he’s going to end the year as nº1 now, and rightfully so. 2012 might have not been as spectacular as his 2011 gold season, but the race doesn’t lie and it still tell us Nole is the true number 1.

Alex Says:

What’s up with proclaiming a new rivalry yet again? Just because they played a tough match (or two in a row) doesn’t mean it will be a great rivalry in the future. Andy lost in the last two tournaments after having match points. Murray can’t have any letdown in tournaments if he wants to be No.1. It’s still very much a four-man circus (once Rafa is back). I don’t see any chance in the near future.

Steve 27 Says:

Djokovic is a Survivor! What a fantastic mentality and will to win! He deserves this title. He will be the best player of the year.

Dave Says:

Hi Margot: It’s true that Federer (81%) is the best indoor player. However, Andy’s career indoor winning percentage (78%) is second best among active players. What’s even more impressive is that Andy has the eight best career indoor winning percentage in ATP history! I expect the British fans to be rooting wildly for him at London. That said, the most lopsided Federer-Murray match was their 2010 World Tour Finals, go figure.

On the other hand, Djokovic’s indoor winning percentage is only about 72%, which is worse than his hardcourt (80%), grasscourt (77%) and claycourt (76%) winning percentages – in other words, Novak is more vulnerable to losses in early rounds when he plays indoors. A few good players have similar or better indoor winning records as Djokovic. See link.

I’m not worried about Federer’s potential clash with Murray at Basel. The reason I’d like to see Murray and other dangerous indoor players in Djokovic’s half at Paris and WTF is simply to knock him off in the semifinals or earlier. If Djokovic loses in the semifinals (and Federer wins Basel, Paris, WTF), that means Djokovic must win at least three matches in the World Tour Finals to clinch the year-end No. 1. That’s the math for the slim chance Fed would finish No. 1.

Dave Says:

Hi Alok, You’re right about Davis Cup. Federer told L’ Equipe magazine in 2010 that for every Davis Cup tie he plays, he has to give up one Masters event. Other top players have said playing Davis Cup is a burden. If Federer loses the year end ranking, the key factor is his choice to play Davis Cup (and thus sacrifice the 2,500 points of Monte Carlo, Toronto, Beijing).

More than words are their behaviors: When Nadal has his best season in 2010, he skipped Davis Cup entirely. Djokovic and Murray skipped Davis Cup entirely this year. And in 2011, Djokovic played only 1.5 matches of Davis Cup (totaling just 4.5 losing sets, 3 of those sets were doubles). In 2010, Djokovic played the most Davis Cup of his career – not surprisingly, he had the worst ATP results of his career. Players know there is a correlation, but have to watch what they say for fear of being labeled unpatriotic and selfish by their national news media. Those players who play Davis Cup regularly are paid under contract with their tennis federations. Top players like Federer and Djokovic do not agree to such contracts to give them flexibility to skip Davis Cup in order to focus on their ATP goals.

I don’t know if the draws are rigged but certainly the overall pattern of draw outcomes against Federer, especially in the grand slams, are statistically improbable. If there was one tournament where Federer deserved a break, given the death threats and the prize money negotiations, it was Shanghai. Not only did he get Murray, his own countryman and buddy Wawrinka tried his hardest to beat him, lol (ultimately the Wawrinka match might have been Fed’s undoing at Shanghai – I expect Murray was emboldened when he realized Fed wasn’t playing well).

I agree with you on the time rule violations. Unfortunately too many news articles celebrated that it was the longest match without qualifying a key reason it took so long. It’s like the Australian Open final: the Federer-Delpo Olympic semifinal was actually 3 games longer and just 3 points shorter than the AO final — Federer and Delpo played at a faster pace between points.

Brando Says:


Just curious about what you think in this regard: Fed’s 31 and a family man now with ALOT of various commitments maybe- and just maybe- we have seen the best of him, and he may not be as much a force as before.

Rafa is out with his perennial knee issue- clearly not a good period for whom.

So, if we can just IGNORE FEDAL for a second (they could BOTH be forces again in the future- but that’s not what i want to discuss), what he have left at the top is: Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray.

Going forward, 2013 and beyond, how do you see these guys doing- in terms of:

1- How many slams they can possibly win/ end up with?

2- How much success and dominance they experience?

3- Type of dominance, i.e. the tour (e.g. Fed 2006/7, Nole 2011) or certain points of the season (rafa on clay, fed on grass) etc?

4- Where they might end up in tennis’s hall of fame, e.g. Fed is tagged with Laver in GOAT debate, rafa as Borg’s successor on Clay etc?

I’d love to hear your take in this regard- as in the last 2 major events (USO, Shanghai) a Murray- Djokovic final is what we have ended up with.

BOTH MATCHES being extremely close.

Thanks in advance.

Daniel Says:

So, if Federer doesn’t win Basel and be a finalist for example, he will lose #1 by 5 points…

Hope he wins it to keep 302, sounds better than 301:)

Wog boy Says:

Fedrer played 18 and Nole 15 tournaments this year. Even if take two DC matches he still has one more tournament this year than Nole. Something doesn’t add up in those 2500 points lost because of DC matches, does it. He lost or better to say didn’t earn those 2500 points because Nole played better and reached more finals as simple as that. One GS final is almost worth like Rotterdam and Doubai together and one masters final is wort more than each of them. Nole has three GS finals (one won) and six masters final, it is not rocket sience to work out who was better player this year so far, isn’t it:)


Feder will stay #1 even he loses in final of Basel since Nole is not playing and will lose 180 points, so don’t worrie he is safe… least ATM:)

Margot Says:

Dave, thanks for that, especially:
” Andy has the 8 best career indoor winning percentage in ATP history!”
That is amazing :)
Can’t wait for the WTF. The support for Andy there will be STUPENDOUS! :)

Wog boy Says:

Instead of “almost worth like” should say “worth more than”..

Dave Says:

Brando: (1) My opinion is that Djokovic will probably win four to six additional slams over the next four to six years. Murray will probably win two to five slams over the next four to six years, depending on how long Ivan Lendl remains his coach. These two players have the potential to take slams from each other on all surfaces. The upper limit is relatively generous based on how many slams players tend to historically win after age 25.5 years.

(2) I expect Murray to drift in and out of the No.1 ranking over the next three years, because Lendl understands how to get to No.1 and remain there. However, I’m skeptical whether Murray — despite his psychological improvements — is deep down the type of person who thrives on the relentless pressure of remaining No. 1, which Federer and Lendl can (to a lesser degree, I believe Djokovic has such traits). So I expect Murray to end his career with 30 to 60 weeks at No. 1. I expect Djokovic will probably add another 40 to 70 weeks at No. 1 to his current 53 weeks over the next three years.

(3) I don’t expect Djokovic to achieve the level of dominance as Fed 2006/7 or even Nole 2011). Djokovic has shown tenacity in getting to No. 1 but tends to lose a bit of his intensity once he gets there. Based on recent ATP figures: while they were each the No.1 ranked players, Djokovic’s win-loss has been 63-13 (82.9%) during his 53 weeks compared to Federer’s 417-52 (88.9%) during his 300 weeks and Nadal’s 140-22 (86.4%) during his 102 weeks.

Eventually one or two other players will learn to beat Djokovic and Murray, just like Nadal did to Federer in his prime… and Djokovic and Davydenko did to Nadal in his prime. No great player is immune to younger players learning to beat them — it’s just a question of when, not if. So Djokovic and Murray’s success/dominance will be periodically challenged. I expect a few other players will blossom to challenge them in future. Today’s Djokovic basically blossomed at 2011 Australian Open (Novak was the fourth pick of most bookmakers and several analysts before the 2011 AO began, yet he blew everyone away). Today’s Murray basically blossomed at 2012 Wimbledon (several pundits had begun to write off Murray by the clay season). In the same way I expect other players to blossom and surprise us in future. That’s how most great players emerged: they weren’t child prodigies who dominated the tour from a young age (if that’s the case, Lleyton Hewitt would not be the youngest ATP No. 1 in history). 2012 seems to be a period of correction where no player was able to obviously dominate — and I expect 2013 to be another year of correction as well. And don’t forget that Nadal and Federer will still be in the mix in 2013. By 2014, we might have a new player dominating the slams, probably winning two of the four.

Of the Big Four, Djokovic is the closest to Federer in terms of his all-round, all-season, all-court, all-condition dominance (Federer has the best ATP match winning percentages for both hardcourts and grass; he’s No. 9 on clay; and his outdoor winning percentage is slightly better than his indoor winning percentage). I still expect Nadal to build his season around clay and grass, unless he makes significant improvements to his game and technology (he’s more talented than people tend to give hm credit for). Murray will probably perform better on clay because of Lendl (he won three French Opens during the era of Mats Wilander).

(4) If Djokovic wins ends his career with nine to eleven slams, he would be somewhere between No. 6 to No. 10 on my GOAT list. If Murray ends his career with three to six slams, he would be somewhere between No. 11 to No. 18 on my GOAT list (I believe I posted my GOAT list in the past). First, we have to compare each GOAT contender relative to how they dominated and succeeded in their generation and then reltive to the other GOAT contenders in history. Djokovic and Murray of course so technologically more advanced that they will beat in straight sets every other GOAT contender of yesteryear (from Sampras to Borg to Rod Laver to Ken Rosewall to Pancho Gonzales to Jack Kramer to Bill Tilden) but that does not qualify them to be the GOAT. Second, we have to estimate how many slams the greats would have won before 1968 had tennis been open throughout their careers. For example, Rod Laver officially has 11 grand slam titles, but if tennis had been open throughout his career he probably would have won 15 to 16 slams between 1964 to 1969. Ken Rosewall would probably have won 17 to 18 slams, not just 8 slams. Pancho Gonzales would probably have 13 to 14 slams, instead of just two slams.

(5) Even though the past two Djokovic-Murray matches have been close (also the Australian Open), they have also played three other straight set matches this year. There are no secrets between these two players who frequently practice with each other, but they will try to make improvements to counter the other guy so there probbaly will be swings back and forth in terms of who tends to beat who. At the same time, Djokovic and Murray and closer to each other than to even Nadal and definitely Federer, so they tend to make very positive statements about each other to the news media.

You’re welcome.

Dave Says:

Margot: I hope you read the ‘Reliability-Indoor-Career-List’ link in my earlier post. He also has the second most number of indoor titles among active players.


Federer played only 15 ATP tournaments in 2012. The link shows how the ATP counted 18 tournaments for Federer: The ATP added the following three tournaments — Canada Masters (Fed did not play), Tokyo (Fed did not play) and Davis Cup. There are two rankings breakdown pages — one for this 2012 year (Race to London rankings) and another for the past 52-weeks rolling rankings (South African Airways ATP Rankings). In both cases, you get to the relevant rankings breakdown by clicking on the player’s points in the Race to London rankings and in the ATP Rankings.

Specifically, this is how the ATP added three extra tournaments to Federer’s 15 ATP tournaments.

– 16th tournament: ATP counts all mandatory Masters 1000 tournaments, including the Canada Masters 1000 (Toronto) which Federer missed.

– 17th tournament: The ATP counts four ‘mandatory’ ATP 500 tournaments, so this year’s Basel (once it’s finished in two weeks) will replace Tokyo as one of the four ATP mandatory tournaments for Federer. [Every year after it’s finished, Tokyo pops up as one of Fed’s four counted/’mandatory’ ATP 500 tournaments, even though he hasn’t played it since 2006. This year the Olympics is counted as an ATP 500 event, so Basel will replace Tokyo (once Basel finishes). In other years Federer has played less than four ATP 500 events, so Tokyo remains as a zero pointer.]

– 18th tournament: ATP counts Davis Cup (Fed played two ties/rounds) as one tournament. [Fed got only 25 points from playing two Davis Cup this year. Fed’s 25 points from Davis Cup are now non-countable (totally useless) because its is not one of his best six results from ATP World Tour 500 (minimum four events counted), ATP World Tour 250, Davis Cup, Olympics. It’s not worth playing Davis Cup unless the player gets to at least the semifinals.]

A top player can maximize his points by playing these 19 tournaments: World Tour Finals, the four Grand Slams, the eight mandatory Masters 1000, the optional Monte Carlo Masters and five ATP 500 tournaments. [If the player plays Monte Carlo, it is counted as one of the four counted/’mandatory’ ATP 500 tournaments — but he gets up to the full 1,000 points he makes at Monte Carlo. Three of the ATP 500 events will be under the four counted/’mandatory’ ATP 500 tournaments… the remaining two ATP 500 events will be under the ‘Best of Other Countable Tournaments’ category]

If you see Djokovic’s ranking breakdown for the year, he has efficiently maxed out on his grand slam, Masters 1000 and four counted ATP 500 events (Monte Carlo is counted under the ATP 500 category, but he gets the full points). He still has space for two more events (ATP 500, ATP 250 and/or Davis Cup) in the ‘Best of Other Countable Tournaments’ category.

alison Says:

Dave hi i know it sounds strange given Murray has only just won his 1st slam,but he and Novak are the same age,and its likely to be another well contested rivalry,i think it was Brando who said the other week,they are closer than the Rafa/Nole rivalry in terms of career achievements,so dont you think theres a chance Andy could surpass Nole in GS and other titles,whats your take,just wondering?
Also as well as been a big Murray fan,im a diehard Rafa fan as you know,realistically where do you see his career going,will he still have a chance to win slams other than clay?and where does he stand in the list of all time greats?sorry just interested in your take.

Skeezer Says:

“No great player is immune to younger players learning to beat them — it’s just a question of when, not if.”

-That was a Jedi moment.

Wog boy Says:

It is correct, they both played 15 tournaments this year, and my point was and is that Nole is ahead more than 2000 points, nobody twisted Rogers arm to miss MC, Toronto and on the other hand waist his time playing two 250s and two 500s, while Nole played only two 500s but played MC and Toronto. All players are planing their shedule well ahead and we all know that Federer is best at it, that is why he is able at 31 to play the way he plays and be #1. if he shot himself in the foot this year with sheduling (I don’t think so) he can blame only himself.
But it is not over yet, it will be over when it is over ….in London.
Lets sit back and enjoy what is left to enjoy this year, Bazel, Paris and London and then somebody will crack open a bottle of Shampagne….maybe big one from Shanghai:)

Wog boy Says:

“schedule” :(

Milan Says:

Bookmakers say Djokovic is the favorite to win the World Tour Finals

Brando Says:

@dave: thanks for your response. Detailed and well analysed as ever- enjoyed it. I agree with your take pretty much on every point. I do think the rise of Murray now will somewhat affect djokovic’s dominance on outdoor hardcourts. Andy also is, arguably of course, maybe the better grass court and indoor player- good enough certainly to be seen as strong contender, at the least, going forward. So, like you said, I highly doubt anyone is going to dominate as strongly as some have done so before.

madmax Says:

Dave, it has taken me ages to read all your posts, so informative and detailed. It must take forever to put all this stuff together, even though it is out there on the internet somewhere. Thanks for the time and energy you put in.

Of course Novak and Andy will be the next great rivalry. It’s been coming for quite a while. I seriously do think though that Tsonga and Berdy are also close. They seem to “almost” get there, then run into Novak or Andy, and bang. They are gone. But Andy has worked hard I think on his confidence over the last 12 months, and with the new coach, is reaping the rewards of his efforts with new (now not so new), coach, Lendl. I think it is important to relish this new “ish” rivalry.

Roger is still there, of course, and although he doesn’t have the power in the two handed back hand, he does have shots the others don’t have. That’s what makes him so very special.

I am glad though that Andy feels he is really and truly up there, at the top, after having won his slam. He is a worthy contender for any tournament, as is novak, rafa and roger.

Would be great if all of a sudden, Dolgopolov or Demetriov…came through like lightning speed, and upset the whole order of things. I like their games very much, and they are so young, with many more years ahead of them.

Margot Says:

Cheers Dave, I did indeedy. Fascinating stuff. Andy has been so solid for years, but over-shadowed by the other 3. Hope this is gonna end soon.
alison, tbh I don’t think Andy will end with more slams than Nole. They are the same age and Nole has a flying start after all.
I’ll settle for just 4 or 5.

jane Says:

Dave, that was an interesting post on Nole and Andy; thanks for sharing your thoughts.

Here’s another article on the “budding rivalry”, this one from ESPN:

alison Says:

Margot probably not no,it was just a theory anyway,its as Brando said the other week Andy/Nole are closer in terms of GS and other titles won than what Rafa/Nole are,just a thought.

jimmy Says:

Good stuff, Dave, but you make it seem like Roger was the better player this year and only his patriotism in playing Davis Cup has cost him #1. Not so.

Noval won the AO, was a finalist at the French and US Open, and a semi-finalist at the US Open and the OLympics. In every case where he lost he lost to the eventual champion. He won three masters to date and has been in 4 finals where he lost.

Roger won Wimbledon, was a semi-finalist at the AO and the French, a quarter-finalist at the US Open, and a finalist at the Olympics. He also won three masters events to date. However, as you note, he picked up alot of points at inferior events.

How Roger would have done in events he didn’t enter we can’t say. However, even in the events he did enter he has not been as good as Novak. If you subtract Novak’s 1,600 points from Monte Carlo and Canada, he is still ahead.

Brando Says:


Thanks for the article- it was a nice read.

I think their is a genuine friendship and respect between the two.

Particularly liked how Andy mention’s that he sees Novak as a friend and how nole sees a great similarity in their game and career.

Good luck to both going forward!

racquet Says:

@ dave

For once I enjoyed a couple of your posts. So much better without all the hyperbole.

Tootie Says:

Thank you, Jesus, for helping Novak win Shanghai! I hope Novak will soon receive the Lord into his heart, the most important decision a person will ever make. “Now if any man does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to him.” Romans 8:9

Stanley Says:

@Tootie, he has God in his heart. If you didn’t know already, Novak is a devout Serbian-Orthodox Christian. Or maybe you don’t count that as having received God in his heart….

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