Novak Djokovic’s recently announced that he wouldn’t participate in this year’s Madrid Masters because he plans to recharge his batteries to the maximum for the French Open. However, analysts are concerned that the player’s current decision to cast off the opportunity to finish the all-time most amazing first half may trigger an unwanted loss of momentum.
As of October, Djokovic has been on a winning spree during the ATP tour qualifying for the Masters 1000 level after winning all the tournaments required for it. Also, last year he won the World Tour Final and the Paris Masters. And to top that, this year he won every big tournament he was in from the Australian Open to Indian Wells, as well as a fifth Miami title and the Monte Carlo tournament.
He is already the proud owner of six major trophies in only three consecutive calendar seasons. So, ditching his chance to win Madrid’s trophy will result in losing the opportunity to win the forth consecutive Masters 1000 series.
On the other hand, it is not too late for Djokovic to rewrite the history of tennis this year. Since 2000, the Association of Tennis Professionals favored the Masters 1000 tournaments in subtle ways such as granting higher rewards or in straightforward ways such as forcing players to participate.
Yet, every major player has his own standards and view on what a dominating tennis career should look like. As context has changed, Djokovic as well as Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer have their own particularities that separate them from past tennis legends such as Pete Sampras or Rod Laver.
Nadal has won for of seven major titles in the first half of the year for four times (2007, 2009-2013). Each time, he won three Masters 1000 tournaments and one major. For instance, two years ago he won the French Open, Indian Wells, Madrid and Rome.
Moreover, the King of Clay completed a similar performance during another 4-year series (2005, 2006, 2008, and 2012) when he won at least three Masters 1000 or majors by the first half of the calendar tennis year.
Federer, on the other hand, nailed his greatest achievements in the second half of the year. Only in 2004 and 2006 did he win at least three major trophies at Roland Garros. It may have something to do with having to face a younger and more dynamic Nadal in the first half.
In 2011, Djokovic set up a new standard in slow courts. That year, he won Madrid, Rome, Australian Open, Miami and Indian Wells. But many have downplayed the importance of his 2011 performance simply because he failed to win the French Open. The only thing people can remember from the slow-courts is how he was defeated by Federer in the semifinals. The rest is usually forgotten or it simply doesn’t matter.
Additionally, his amazing first half might have been overshadowed also by his later performance in 2011, when he earned three majors at the U.S. Open and Wimbledon. But analysts believe that Djokovic’s 2011 first half performance was far greater than any first-half accomplishments pulled out by Federer or Nadal.
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