Novak Djokovic will be making his fifth consecutive appearance at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals, securing his invitation on May 16th, following his undefeated start to the 2011 season. Only one other player since 1990 has qualified for the season-ending event before Roland Garros (Nadal in 2009).
Novak Djokovic has had a transcendent year in 2011, winning 10 titles, including three Grand Slams. His season started exactly where he left off in 2010, following a career changing Davis Cup victory.
His 2011 season began at the Australian Open, where he would win his second career Grand Slam title, and his second Australian Open title. He defeated Andy Murray in straight sets. He would continue his new found level defeating Roger Federer, for the second time of the season, in the finals of the Dubai Championship.
Riding his impressive start, Djokovic lifted his second title at Indian Wells, and followed that by winning the Miami Masters. He beat Rafael Nadal on both occasions and also became the new World No. 2. Djokovic became the seventh different man in ATP World Tour history to complete the Indian Wells-Miami title double.
After skipping the Monte-Carlo Masters, Djokovic won his home tournament in Belgrade by beating Spaniard Feliciano Lopez. The Serbian’s dominant season continued, as he defeated Nadal in back-to-back Masters finals, this time in Madrid and Rome, on Nadal’s favorite surface.
Undefeated since losing at the 2010 Barclay’s World Tour Final’s, Djokovic advanced to the semifinal stage of Roland Garros. He would lose in four sets, to Federer, in what may have been the best match of 2011, and one of the best single performances by Federer on clay.
Djokovic, would not play in any Wimbledon warm-up event, instead opting for rest. His decision proved to be a successful one, as he would win his second Grand Slam of the year and third overall, again defeating Nadal for the Wimbledon title. His semifinal win over Jo-Wilfried Tsonga at Wimbledon ensured a that Djokovic would become the new World No.1. Djokovic is the first player other than Federer or Nadal to hold the World No. 1 ranking since February 2004.
During the North-American hard court season, Djokovic became the first player to win five ATP World Tour Masters 1000 titles in one season, beating Mardy Fish 6-2 3-6 6-4 in the Montreal final. He also became the first player to win a title in his debut as the World No. 1 since Sampras in 1993. Djokovic would suffer his second loss of the year when he was forced to retire from the Cincinnati Masters Final to Andy Murray, citing a right shoulder injury.
At the 2011 US Open, Djokovic won his third Grand Slam of the season when he beat defending champion Nadal, for the sixth consecutive time. He saved two match points against Roger Federer in the semifinal, in order to extend his US Open. He is the first man to go on to win a major championship after saving match point since Marat Safin won the 2005 Australian Open (d. Hewitt). Safin saved two match points, his victim was Federer yet again. Djokovic would leave New York, having won three of the four Grand Slam titles, and a remarkable 64-2 record in 2011.
Following the US Open, Djokovic’s body has shown signs of wear and tear. He suffered his third defeat of the season to Juan Martin Del Potro during the Davis Cup clash between Serbia and Argentina. He probably should have never tried to play, but he clearly felt obligated to try, as the Serb’s were trying to defend their 2010 Davis Cup title.
He then lost to Japan’s Kei Nishikori in the semifinal of the Swiss Indoors in Basel. With more and more injuries, Djokovic was again forced to withdraw from the Paris Masters event, prior to his quarterfinal match, giving a walk over to Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.
What Djokovic has accomplished in 2011 is certainly worthy of the the discussion surrounding one of the great all-time seasons. He arrives to London hoping to win the title for the second time. 2011 will be a difficult season to match.
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