5 Feats Novak Djokovic Needs to Achieve to Beat 2011 Success
A lot of talk toward the end of 2011 was about how Novak Djokovic would ever top his career best year.
How could anybody realistically do any better?
Even Roger Federer, in the pre-Rafael Nadal era never managed to win the calender Grand Slam, and some consider him to be the greatest of all time (although he does have a losing record to Nadal).
The tour is even tougher this year than last, with a fitter Juan Martin Del Potro, a re-energised Federer and Andy Murray playing with a reputable coach.
The chances of Djokovic repeating his success seems impossible, yet the opportunity for him is there.
Win the French Open
This may sound obvious, but it still needs to be included.
Novak Djokovic was still confident and played amazingly well after losing to a brilliant performance by Roger Federer in last year's semifinal. And after citing confidence as a key reason for his performances, a win at this year's French Open would elevate his confidence levels even higher.
It would also serve as a dagger to the rest of the tour; the fear of playing Djokovic would increase, and he'd have a huge mental advantage over his opponents.
A win at the French Open would also give Djokovic the career Grand Slam, as well as him holding all four majors at the same time.
Defend Wimbledon Title
Easier said than done for this one.
At last year's Wimbledon, there was a few factors that certainly helped Novak Djokovic win the title.
Roger Federer losing was a bonus, as well as an injured Rafael Nadal beating Andy Murray. A fully fit Nadal or the home favourite Murray in the final may have been overwhelming for Djokovic, but his performances were still worthy of a champion.
This year, he is going to be the one everyone is gunning for, and with Wimbledon being his favourite major, there will be a lot of internal and external pressure to defend his title.
Djokovic will need to prove that last year's grass-court performances were no fluke.
A strong run at Wimbledon will also cement him as the favourite for the Olympics.
Win Serbia an Olympic Gold
Novak Djokovic is a great ambassador for his native Serbia, which before Novak, may have been best known for a war that left a stain on the country's name.
The president of Serbia is an avid fan of Djokovic's, saying that he is "helping improve his country's 'pretty bad reputation,'" according to CBS News, via Djokovic's official website.
The reaction of his people when Djokovic went back home after winning Wimbledon was incredible. Winning his country an Olympic gold medal would probably mean as much to Djokovic as winning his first major back in Australia in 2008.
Winning an Olympic medal would cement his legacy in Serbia, and with a four-year wait until the next one, now is the most opportune time for Djokovic to win it.
Reach at Least Semifinal at US Open
Clearly, winning and defending his title would be the ultimate, but considering how closely the US Open follows the Olympics, this may be unrealistic for Novak Djokovic.
If he was to lose in the first week, then no matter what, it would always be pointed to as the weakest moment of his year, slightly detracting from whatever else he achieves.
Getting to the semifinal is the minimum requirement for a player like Djokovic.
Whilst three Grand Slam wins and one semifinal is what Novak achieved in 2011, adding the Olympic title would be the crowing achievement.
Finish the Year Strong
Novak Djokovic's season tailed off slightly toward the end of the year last year.
A semifinal loss in the Swiss Indoors was followed by a withdrawal in the quarterfinals of the BNP Paribas Open and an elimination in the round-robin stage of the World Tour Finals.
It was hardly a stellar end to the year.
It is understandable that injuries and fatigue would have contributed to the poor end-of year-results, but this year, with the Olympics, it's even more important for Djokovic to organise his schedule to his benefit.
He should not play as much Davis Cup, as the best-of-five set format is too much for a non-Slam event.
Davis Cup matches often follow major tournaments, and that is not going to help Djokovic, who more than likely will be in the latter stages of any tournament he enters.