Novak Djokovic: Why His 2012 Season Could Be Better Than His 2011

Kevin Pacelli@kjp0205Correspondent IJanuary 30, 2012

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - JANUARY 30:  Novak Djokovic of Serbia poses with the Norman Brookes Challenge Cup after winning the 2012 men's Australian Open, at Carlton Gardens on January 30, 2012 in Melbourne, Australia.  (Photo by Lucas Dawson/Getty Images)
Lucas Dawson/Getty Images

Nobody who follows tennis will deny that Novak Djokovic's 2011 season redefined the word "dominant." Before it had even finished, analysts and fans were ranking it among the all-time best individual seasons.

As expected, coming into 2012, Djokovic is the big name in the ATP circuit. Not only is he making his first season start at the number one spot; he is also the one fans around the world are watching, and the ones other players are out to get.

His performance at the 2012 Australian Open told the tennis world that 2011 was anything but a fluke. 

With a dominant beginning and a fighting finish to the year's first Slam, fans are beginning to wonder what the rest of the year has in store for the Serb. Will his 2012 season have success that surpasses that of his 2011?

It's still much too early to decide, but it definitely seems possible.

First of all, I see little reason to believe that Novak won't be able to hold his Slam titles from last year. Based on his play in Melbourne, hard court doesn't appear to be a problem for him at all, so reigning as U.S. Open champion is a feat that should not be doubted. Rafa Nadal is his current biggest competitor, but Novak was able to dismiss the Spaniard in four sets to take the 2011 Wimbledon trophy, and has a great chance at doing the same this year.

That just leaves the Roland Garros throne for the Serb to take.

Djokovic began 2011 with an incredible 43 match win streak that ended in the French Open after an upsetting semifinal loss to Roger Federer. Nadal went on to win that final against Federer, so it would be logical to think that he will have the best chance at preventing a Djokovic Calendar Slam again.

That is, until you remember that prior to the French, Djokovic beat Nadal two times on clay in 2011 alone (Rome and Madrid finals).

There's no way to know whether or not he would have taken down Rafa again in the French Open final, but based on his track record for earlier that season, the possibility of him doing it in 2012 shouldn't be taken lightly.

There's really no way Novak Djokovic can improve upon his 2011 season unless he wins the Calendar Grand Slam, an achievement unattainable by even the greatest players since Rod Laver in 1969. As unlikely as it may seem on the surface, though, it doesn't seem impossible when you take into account his performances in the past 13 months.

Only time will tell whether or not the Serbian star places himself among the greats by accomplishing this in 2012.