No matter what happens at the O2 Arena in London from November 11 – November 18, at the ATP season-ending tour tournament, Novak Djokovic will end the year ranked No.1. This was not a probability in May.
Djokovic has climbed the proverbial tennis ‘Everest.’ The Serb became the first player to be ranked No.20 and beyond in the world at the beginning of the year but climbed all the way to finish as No.1.
Whilst struggling with injuries and lost form in 2017 and early 2018, many reports were looking for the appropriate eulogies or obituaries but the ‘Joker’ had a last card to pull; and he has proven once again that form can be temporary but class is always permanent.
Roger Federer, who lost to Djokovic in last week’s Paris Masters told the ATP website, “Novak is obviously on a roll.” And what a roll it has become after the descent into blackness because of personal and injury challenges.
He revealed a hiking activity with his wife in June was the turning point.
“My wife, after her second pregnancy did not have enough time for herself. She was not in form, so to say.
“And she hiked with me; she climbed on a really steep mountain for three or four hours. And it was a great experience that strengthened our relationship.
“That day was really special, that trip overall which lasted five days, not just the mountain, certainly. That climb was special and it brought some kind of fulfillment of pride and strength and on the other hand that journey, that we took in private, that we did not have until we became parents, was more than necessary.
“We went to the south of France. So that was, if I can choose one moment, probably that moment was the greatest turning point,” Djokovic revealed.
At the beginning of the year, Djokovic, ranked as low as 22 in May, was not expected to win any Masters 1000 tournament talk less of a Grand Slam. But he finishes 2018 with the Wimbledon and US Open titles to take his Grand Slam total to 14.
Djokovic also holds head-to-head advantages over the supposed big three of Federer, Nadal, and Andy Murray and is thus considered by many as the most complete tennis player on tour. Tennis coach, Nick Bollettieri, said as much to Tennis World USA.
“When you look at match players in the history of tennis, I don’t believe that anybody can equal everything on the court that Djokovic does. I don’t think you can find a weakness in his game.
“His movement, personality, his return of serve, his serve, excellent touch, not hesitant in coming to the net, great serve. Overall, almost every player has a downfall; to me, he doesn’t have one. He’s perhaps the best put-together player that I’ve seen over 60 years.”
After winning the US Open in September, Djokovic told ESPN, “The US Open was physically and mentally one of the most demanding Grand Slams for me.
“When you win a Slam, it’s like climbing Mount Everest. You need a pause to recharge your batteries.”
Rising from No.22 to claim two Grand Slam titles and the year-ending top ranking shows he has indeed mastered the art of mountain climbing.