Why is Novak Djokovic Numero Uno?
| November 14th, 2012, 12:50 am

By Matt McGladrigan

Well, Novak Djokovic has once again proved he is the best in his sport at the moment, by beating the great and twice-defending champion Roger Federer in two tight sets to win the 2012 ATP World Tour Finals in London, bringing the curtain down on arguably the most exhilarating year of men’s tennis yet. It was always going to be tough for him to follow up last year, after having such a phenomenal season winning three of the four majors. Despite only lifting one Grand Slam in Australia, back in January, the Serbian has had a lot of success to revel in when he now relaxes for a while in the off-season.

Melbourne, Miami, Toronto, Beijing, Shanghai, London: the 6 cities that Djokovic has been victorious in during 2012. He has won some big matches this season, but has also had some particularly heart-wrenching defeats. The Serb lost in the finals of both the French Open (where he had the chance to be the holder of all 4 Grand Slam titles) and the US Open. The first half of the year was probably mainly about Nole against Rafa, with all the important matches seemingly involving those two. Second half has been about Djokovic-Murray. And mix in some classics with Roger, and those top four have absolutely dominated again.

But what has made Djokovic become so great and the number one player in the world? Quite simply, he wins the big points in the big matches. He has that absolute knack of being able to perform to the best of his ability when trophies, paycheques and rankings are all on the line. We saw it all year: saving match points against Tsonga in the last 8 in Paris (much to the disgust of the fanatic home crowd), against Murray in Shanghai. Nole will outlast his opponent too; he’s just first-class in the lengthy baseline rallies. Nadal was the one that could engage in these with him the most, but Murray has really stepped up in that regard and improved his defences too.

The world number one has got pretty much every shot in his arsenal. His forehand is inch-perfect. The slice is effective. The serve too – which always used to be his problem. He is able to pull out a 130mph first serve at break point down. He has power and pace, mixed with soft hands. But, the shot that is probably the most formidable is that backhand. It just flies off the racket and puts the opponent under so much pressure to find something quickly with their own racket. Perhaps, the only area of shakiness at times is the smash, seen in London this last week.

The Serbian is one of the best movers we’ve ever seen. He is athletic, strong, flexible, and can convert defence into attack with the flick of a wrist. We all saw that pass on match point at the end of year championships at the O2. You have to win the point against him 4 or 5 times more than against most players on the Tour. He returns serve extremely well too, putting lots of pressure on the server with their second shot.

It could be said that the rankings in the women’s side of the game are farcical at times. Caroline Wozniacki was at the top for 67 weeks, yet she hasn’t won a Grand Slam title to this day. At the moment, Victoria Azarenka is undoubtedly one of the best female players currently but she was 0-5 against Serena Williams this season (making it 1-11 in total) but still above her in the rankings. We all know who the top woman in the game is at the end of 2012; she sits at No. 3 though. With the men, however, No. 1 is a much bigger deal. You don’t get there by not winning a lot of major tournaments and Novak Djokovic deserves to be there after the year he’s had.

We have to be thoroughly excited for 2013 in men’s tennis. Those top 3 are so close now. Federer could have had that final last night; Murray could have beaten Novak in the group stage. Throw in that powerful (well not his knee at the moment) Spaniard, Rafa Nadal, into the mix and who knows what will happen. It would be fantastic to see these 4 reach the semi-finals of many of the major championships next season, and battle it out. Who can call how it’ll go? Will Djokovic retain his title in Melbourne, or will Murray have something to say about that on his favourite surface? Will Rafa reign supreme in France? Roger at SW19 again, or the home favourite to realise his dream?

Hurry up 2013.

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49 Comments for Why is Novak Djokovic Numero Uno?

Gregoire Gentil Says:

The key question for 2013 seems to me: will the four slams go again to the big four? Ferrer, not at all. Tsonga, unlikely. Only Del Potro can perhaps break the series. We will see!

solaris Says:

Well, theoretically if you have 0 points and only win 4 Grand Slams you will have 8000 points, and thats not enough for number one, simpe math.

TJ Says:

1) Fed is over the hill

2) Nadal is a one-surface pony

3) Murray is just a over-hyped bozo.

This season was a 52-48 split between Djokovic and Federer. Even at 31, Fed is the guy challenging Djoko for no.1 Nadal and Murray – who make up this strong era are total non-factors as far as number 1. Murray cannot win consistently on any surface. Rafa cannot win consistently outside clay.

Still, nole is a super player. One more wimbledon and 50 more weeks @ no.1 and he would establish himself as the 2nd best guy of this era, after Federer. If he does the unthinkable and rake up federer like numbers, he might even over take sampras as the 2nd of all time on slams.

Nole and Fed at 1 and 2. Seems like a perfect tennis world. The aggressive players before the defensive ones! excellent!

solaris Says:

In Caroline “era” there was no group of women consistent enough to win and be on top. Now this group is cleary visible and cristalyzing.

Dean Says:

Nice comment TJ. I especially like “The aggresive players before the defensive ones!” Hear, hear. Well done Novak on another stellar year.

jamie Says:

Nole will win the AO and RG next year. Murray will win Wimbledon. Del Potro will win the USO. 2013 will be a great year for tennis. NO SLAMS FOR FEDAL.

jamie Says:


I don`t think Nole will win another Wimbledon. He has better chances of winning multiple French Opens(2) than multiple Wimbledons. Also I don’t think Nole will overtake Sampras as the 2nd of all time at the slams because I don’t see him winning 15 slams which is what he would need to outdo Sampras. The likes of Borg, Sampras, Federer and Nadal who won 11 or more slams in the open era won most of their slams before turning 26. Borg had 11 slams before turning 26. Sampras had 10 slams before turning 26. Federer had 11 slams before turning 26. Nadal had 10 slams before turning 26. Let’s say Nole wins the AO2013. He would have 6 slams before turning 26. Since turning 26, Borg won 0 slams, Sampras won 4 slams, Federer won 6 slams and Nadal won 1 slam. Federer won 6 slams since turning 26 but he had won 11 before 26. Looking at history, Nole will win less slams since turning 26 than before 26. So he is expected to win less than 6 slams(if he wins AO) since turning 26. When players turn 26 decline begins. Look at the players I mentioned above. They win less once they hit 26. These are players who won double digits at the slams. I don’t think Nole’s longevity will be as good as Fed’s. They have different playing styles. Anyway, Fed won 6 slams since turning 26 while Sampras won 4. I say Nole wins 4 slams since turning 26 like Sampras. That means Nole ends up with around 10 slams.


volley Says:

it’s very amusing to see a Fed fan pretend to have an allegiance to another player when they fear their his legacy is under threat.

>he would establish himself as the 2nd best guy of this era

lol. he hasn’t even achieved the career slam yet. besides, the stats for the last 5 years tell the real story-

Nadal – 8
Djoko – 5
Fed – 5
Murray – 1

Nadal – 12
Djoko – 11
Murray – 8
Fed – 7

according to these stats, Fed comes in third during the 2008-2012 era.

>Murray is just a over-hyped bozo.

so three of Fed’s slams (& one of Nole’s) should have an asterisk? interesting.

nadalista Says:

@TJ, appears from your posts you despise Rafa more than you like………whomever. Can’t tell whether you’re a Fedfan or Novak fan, tbh.

Much healthier to have the opposite in place i.e. like more than hate……..

Just saying…………..

subo Says:

how come nadal fans don’t know that there boy was banned for a silent doping ban at wimbledon by the itf his name should be out there to say to everyon e he is a cheater tennis is protecting nadal just like the vermin in the media

skeezer Says:

“the stats for the last 5 years tell the real story-”

Really? Here we go with the ERA fantasy stories again. Based on the “volley” rule, ugh.

I’m out.

trufan Says:

Why is Djokovic No. 1?

1. he is 25 while his main competition is Federer (31), Murray (really not in the same league), and Nadal (clay pony).
2. He performs REALLY well under pressure.
3. Delpo never really fully recovered from his injury to get back to 2009 USO form.

None of these is likely to change in 2013.

trufan Says:

BTW, Djokovic is 20-10 against Fed, Nadal, Murray combined, for 2011-12 (two years). 7-3 on fed and nadal each, and 6-4 on murray.

That says it all.

Thomas Says:

I agree with this article, except when you said that Djokovic’s “slice is effective.” No it’s not. His slice is mediocre and easily the worst of the top 4. But yeah, it’s been a rock solid for novak, and I expect more of the same next year.

volley Says:

@ thomas – agreed.

@skeezer – stats are stats, they’re factual – the antithesis of fantasy. instead of fulminating you could provide a cogent argument , i.e. why you disagree that result stats are a poor gauge of players’ success.

RZ Says:

Nole had the most consistent year of the top players and certainly deserves his year-end #1 ranking.

However, when fans and pundits look back at 2012, they’re more likely to remember 2012 as the year Federer extended his slam record with #17 and returned to the #1 ranking to pass Pete Sampras’s record of 287 weeks, and as the year Andy Murray finally broke through with the Olympic gold medal (on home turf) and slam #1.

Giles Says:

nadalista. Here is my interpretation of what the initials TJ stand for “TOTAL JACKASS”.

skeezer Says:

“stats are stats, they’re factual”

Not when you skew them for your own edificaton.

TJ Says:

So now we realise whose fan volley is. the one surface pony! everyone except a rafaturd will know who that is.

even murray the bozo is a better player than that bimbo!

TJ Says:

nadalista, please preach giles the mofo and its alter ego volley the dumbazz before you preach other people.

volley Says:

@ skeezer – please explain how the stats were ‘skewed’.

@TJ – f.y.i, I am not a Rafa fan but i respect his achievements.

mike Says:

why is he number one? because he played 9 masters 1000’sn and Fed played 6 of them

what a ridiculous site this can be, who’s in the funk and who’s in the trunk section – so they have Delpo in the good section i.e funk, then you have Murray in the trunk

Hmmmm i should remind myself which one of them won US Open, Olympics, made another GS Final at Wimbledon and which one of them DID NONE OF THAT IN 2012

absolute morons running this place

i find it Amazing the hatred Murray can bring out of sad people.

nadalista Says:

@TJ, try wiping the foam off your mouth first before trying to speak, works with rabid dogs. Am sure it will work with you too……..

nadalista Says:

…….or, and btw @TJ, lighten up, or better still, get a life………it’s only a game.

Hamza Says:

I take offence to TJ’s illogical statement that “Nadal is one trick pony”. Nadal played three Grand Slam finals in 2010, all 3 on different surfaces. Nadal played three Grand slam finals in 2011, all on 3 different surfaces. Nadal played 2 grand slam finals in 2012 on 2 different surfaces. In the last 12 Grand slam finals, Nadal has featured 8 times, 3 times on his beloved clay and 5 times on non-clay surfaces. Yes 8. So my question is, HOW THE HELL CAN SOMEBODY CALL HIM A ONE TRICK PONY !!!!!

madmax Says:

Irrespective of the following, Novak has been brilliant this year and deserves to end as World number one. Wish Fed could have done it; he had his opportunities, but it wasn’t to be and fed acknowledged that Novak was the best, because he is, in 2012.

Interesting mail bag from Jon Weithem. Read on.

It does not matter what surface the World Tour Finals is played on, what time of year, the significance of the tournament in the pecking order or the amount of American TV coverage.

The fact that Maestro Federer has played a round robin against the seven other best players in the world and has been in the finals eight times and won the tournament six times is absolutely remarkable. He should be saluted and given much more credit for this achievement than is generally given.
— Fernando, Valencia

• Had you followed the unfortunately abbreviated World Tour Finals via Twitter, you’d be forgiven for thinking that Federer had won, so gushing was the praise. You could also be forgiven for thinking that Rafael Nadal’s absence had rendered this a secondary event. Or that Juan Martin del Potro had emerged as the new, dominant force. I have some blood on my hands too, so to speak, having written effusively about Andy Murray.

Let’s pause for a second and give credit where it is due, which is squarely at the Uniqlos of Novak Djokovic. The No. 1-ranked player was up to the task last week, alternately dominating and grinding out a series of wins. His takedown of Roger Federer in the final was the Djoker at his best, transitioning from defense to offense, serving authoritatively and coming up with shots like this — on match point, no less.

Let’s dilate: Djokovic started the year at No. 1. He won, consecutively, two of the great matches of the year in Australia, his fourth major in 12 months. He didn’t win another major and didn’t replicate his 2011 — which is a bit like saying JK Rowling wasn’t able to replicate the success of the Harry Potter series. Djokovic, hardly disappeared, though. He won Masters Series events. He reached the French Open final. U.S. Open, too. He locked up the year-end No. 1 ranking. And then he beat the best during a terrific week of indoor tennis in London.

Federer has his vast and mobilized army of fans. So does Nadal. There are the sentimentalists who watched the Andy Murray narrative unspool, romanticized the dimensions of his breakthrough and are too stubborn to back off the assertion that he is ATP’s Most Valuable Player for 2012. (What’s that? Nothing to see here. Please disperse.)

In the Land of Objectivity and Reason, though, you have to hand it to Djokovic. He won early. He won often. He won late. He started No. 1 and finished No. 1. He fought through emotional exhaustion. He fought through a fraught family situation, never using it as an excuse. As we’ve said before, he plays with a national pressure that no other player — not even Murray — will ever know. Did he go 70-6? No. But, given the context, you could argue that what he did in 2012 was no less impressive.


Nina Says:

Wahat could be really worrying for the other top 3 is that Nole still has room to improve in his game. I’m not saying he has any weakness because he hasn’t, but the day he starts putting those volleys in and coming to the net more, that they the rest can start trembling. He’s the most complete player out there, Federer is the better attacker and Murray and Nadal probably are better or equal defenders, but only Nole can do both with such effectiveness and skill. He can turn defense in ofense better than I have ever seen anyone do it and that is his major weapon I believe. Plus he’s extremely clutch (see? he already improved in that department because he wasn’t known for his mental strenght before).

I think 2013 will be similar to 2012 with Nole on top, but federer, murray and hopefully nadal will also contender for all the titles. I maybe can see Delpo stepping it up, needless to say he was probably the toughest opponent for Nole up to the WTF final.

Nina Says:

Sorry for the spelling mistakes! I was typing fast and English is not my language!

TJ Says:

nadal will probably have lesser achievements outside clay, by the time murray/djokovic finish their careers!

nadal can whatever he wants, but i am sure his doping /cheating will soon be out, just like happened with armstrong. atleast with all the cheating, armstrong dominated his sport. nadal with all his cheating is still an inferior player compared to djokovic!

djokovic will surely overtake nadal’s GS record and weeks at number 1. he’s half way there already! 2013 is not going to be like 2012. it is going to be like 2011.

montecarlo Says:

Why is Novak Djokovic Numero Uno?

Instead of writing such a long article to explain you should have simply written-

“Because Nadal is currently injured”

TJ Says:

If they had slowed down the surfaces and conditions like today, i am quite sure even clowns like muster/bruguera would have been factors on other surfaces!

Milan Says:

Djokovic’s 2013 is going to be much better than 2012 but worse than 2011. Novak is going to win 2 slams next year.

rogerafa Says:

“Because Nadal is currently injured”

Novak was the top player even during Rafa’s presence. “what if” scenarios can make for some interesting conversation but the fact is that Novak is the numero uno at the moment.

Wog boy Says:

ATP rankings 2011, note-Nadal not injured:

Djokovic 13,630

Nadal 9,595

ATP rankings 2012:

Djokovic 12,920

Federer 10,265

It looks pretty clear to any objective person that Djokovic was playing best tennis and with pretty good margin, not just, and that is why he is Numero Uno.

To best players couldn’t stop him, Nadal couldn’t stop in 2011 and Federer couldn’t stop him in 2012.
Is anybody going to stop him in 2013, who knows, I just wish them all to be in a good health so we all can enjoy good tennis.

Wog boy Says:

ATP rankings 2011, note-Nadal not injured:

Djokovic 13,630

Nadal 9,595

ATP rankings 2012:

Djokovic 12,920

Federer 10,265

It looks pretty clear to any objective person that Djokovic was playing best tennis and with pretty good margin, not just, and that is why he is Numero Uno.

Two best players couldn’t stop him, Nadal couldn’t stop in 2011 and Federer couldn’t stop him in 2012.
Is anybody going to stop him in 2013, who knows, I just wish them all to be in a good health so we all can enjoy good tennis.

Wog boy Says:

Sorry for double posting, I went to change “to” for “two” but post was already gone.

moam Says:

Djokovic’s belief is the primary factor that makes him #1. Even when it appears that he will lose, he believes that if he can just extend the match, he will emerge victorious.

Wog boy Says:


That was quite a nice read, thanks for that.

jamie Says:

Milan Says:
Djokovic’s 2013 is going to be much better than 2012 but worse than 2011. Novak is going to win 2 slams next year.

November 15th, 2012 at 9:48 am



mat4 Says:

“Milan Says:
Djokovic’s 2013 is going to be much better than 2012 but worse than 2011. Novak is going to win 2 slams next year.”

I would be very happy if it happens. We have seen this year just how little things can change results.

I would be happy if he wins one slam. Especially the FO.

jamie Says:

AO and FO. That double has been done in the past 40 years by Wilander and Courier. Nole is next.

tennishere Says:

I bet Nole won’t leave the top position for a long time ;) Go Nole !!

Dragan Says:

Novak is No.1, because in the past 24 months, achieved more than others.

alison Says:

I know its a few days late,and i Dont really know which thread to post this on,as ive been away for a few days,but i would just like to say congrats to Nole and fans Jane,Nina,Courbon,Wogboy,Mat4,Duro,on your favorite winning the WTF,what a great match,Nole down breaks of serve in both sets,Fed unfortunatly couldnt capitalize ,anyway well deserved Nole has deffinetly been the player of the year again this year,

jane Says:

There are some great pictures of Nole and Guga at The Slice under the heading, “Djokovic, Kuerten Inaugurate 1st Public Court In Rocinha”. For some reason I can’t post the link.

Wog boy Says:


Thanks, it is never too late:)

alison Says:

Wogboy your welcome,just to let you know i posted it on the other thread,which has dissapeared now,the music at the WTF was by British band Coldplay song is called Fix You,if you listen to it on Youtube the words sound quite poinaynt(dont know if thats spelt correctly,but you know what i mean)to Nole,given what hes been through with his dad this week,the words will bring you to tears,they do me anyway(soppy thing).

Wog boy Says:


Thanks very much, you are right about words:(

Top story: Djokovic Impressed By Sinner's Professionalism