Men's Tennis logoMen's Tennis

Novak Djokovic: How Long Before His Legacy Matches Up to Rafael Nadal's?

Dimitri KayCorrespondent IMay 24, 2011

Novak Djokovic: How Long Before His Legacy Matches Up to Rafael Nadal's?

1 of 7

    Jasper Juinen/Getty Images

    Rafael Nadal’s legacy truly started at the age of 19 when he beat Roger Federer, the world No. 1 at the time, on his way to lifting the 2005 French Open title.

    However, since then the Spaniard's legacy has reached legendary status which has to do with him boasting records (among others) at the highest level of tennis; at Grand Slam and Masters Series level.

    Novak Djokovic started his legacy when he became the youngest player in the open era to defeat the top three players in the world in the same tournament.

    The Serb has also bolstered his legacy with numerous other records at the highest level. Nonetheless, are these records enough to challenge Nadal’s legacy and augment his own?

    Let’s take a look at some records which could have a serious impact on Novak Djokovic’s legacy.

Titles in a Season

2 of 7

    Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

    Nadal: 11 titles in 2005; his best ever haul in a season.

    Djokovic: has accumulated seven titles this year; his best in a season.

     

    Comparing the Records

    In 2005, Nadal was still a teenager. Moreover, not only is this a record haul of titles for a teenager in a season, but also the joint most titles won by a teenager on the pro tour (the other being Bjorn Borg).

    Even if Djokovic does outdo the Spaniard's title haul, Nadal’s will always have that special distinction of being done when he was a teenager, something that Djokovic can no longer achieve.

     

    Can Djokovic Match this Record

    With the way Djokovic is playing this season, who is to bet against him winning another four titles or more, thus equaling or surpassing the Spaniard's personal best.

    It is something that is very doable, especially this year.

Most Finals Won in Succession

3 of 7

    Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

    Nadal: 14 through 2005–2006

    Djokovic: 7 and counting starting from this year.

     

    Comparing the Records

    Half of Nadal’s record was achieved while he was a teenager, which shows how mentally prepared the Spaniard was even in his early days. It is a record that will likely test the length of time.

    Nevertheless, if Djokovic could increase his run and win many prestigious titles along the way, his record could match that of the Spaniard.

     

    Can Djokovic Match this Record?

    The Monaco resident could easily equal or surpass Nadal’s record. The Serb, just like so many top tennis players, has a great record in tournament finals and it would not be too bad for his legacy, either.

Consecutive Win Streaks

4 of 7

    Alex Livesey/Getty Images

    Nadal: 32 matches on all surfaces in 2008, 81 consecutive matches on clay courts

    Djokovic: 40 matches and counting on all surfaces in 2010–2011, 19 consecutive on hardcourts

     

    Comparing the Records

    Nadal’s 32-match streak contained titles in the Hamburg Masters, Roland Garros, Queens, Wimbledon and the Canadian Masters. At the two Grand Slams and Hamburg, the Mallorca native had to beat Roger Federer.

    Additionally, Nadal completed the channel slam, being only the third male player in the open era to do so at the time, and took part in the Wimbledon final which was considered by many to be the best match in tennis history.

    Djokovic’s record up until now is also impressive, winning Davis Cup, the Australian Open, Dubai, Indian Wells, Miami, the Serbia Open, Madrid and Rome Masters.

    Djokovic had to beat Rafael Nadal in all four Masters finals and could also best McEnroe’s record of 42 matches won from the beginning of the season.

    Comparing their win streaks in ATP points, the Serb has 500 more; however he also has won two more titles. This one is clearly objective.

    At the moment, I would say that Rafa’s record just pips Novak’s because of playing two Major finals against Roger Federer.

    With reference to the single surface streak, there is no way Djokovic can match that.

     

    Can Djokovic Match this Record?

    Not only has the Serb bettered Nadal’s record of successive wins on all surfaces, but he is also certain to better Roger Federer’s same record of 41 matches, in which the Swiss accomplished in 2006-2007; great for the young Serb’s legacy.

    All the same, unless Djokovic goes through the season practically unbeaten, it is highly unlikely he will get near the Spaniard's outrageous 81-match clay win streak, whether it is on the same surface.

Masters Series

5 of 7

    Julian Finney/Getty Images

    Nadal: 19 Masters Titles

    Djokovic: 9 Masters Titles

     

    Comparing the Records

    Both have won four Masters titles in a single season and have reached the finals of eight of the nine Masters tournaments; the similarities stop there, however.

    Nadal has appeared in five consecutive finals at this level, with Djokovic having reached one less. The former has reached 29 finals, while Djokovic has reached only 15.

    The Spaniard also has the all-time record of having won three Masters titles in four consecutive years, plus having won at least one of these titles for seven years in a row.

    The Spanish Matador actually owns nearly all records concerning this level, however Novak does possess two records that he could be proud of; 20-match win streak (and counting) and a World Tour Final title.

    Rafael by comparison has a win streak of 18 matches at this level and no World Tour Finals titles.

     

    Can Djokovic Match this Record?

    There are many accounts that go under “Masters Series Records,” however taking all records into consideration, Rafa’s seem to be the superior ones; and it looks to stay that way.

Grand Slams

6 of 7

    Al Bello/Getty Images

    Nadal: 9 out of 11 finals

    Djokovic: 2 out of 4 finals

     

    Comparing the Records

    There is not really much to compare. Whichever way you put it, Nadal has the upper hand concerning the Grand Slams.

    In order for there to be a comparison, Djokovic will have to reach all four finals at this level, plus winning, at least, another four.

     

    Can Djokovic Match this Record?

    It looks like a long shot. With only one year separating these two incredible athletes and with the roster of talented players increasing, it will be very hard for Djokovic to match what Nadal has done during the past five years.

    However, if Djokovic does the unthinkable and achieves the calendar Grand Slam this year, he may easily surpass Nadal’s Grand Slam legacy.

Conclusion

7 of 7

    Michael Steele/Getty Images

    As I mentioned earlier, there is only one year separating these two players.

    Unless Nadal’s level nose dives into oblivion, there is really no chance Djokovic can match the former's records in two of the most important areas of tennis; Grand Slams and Masters Series.

    However, the key word in that sentence is “records.”

    Records are something totally different to legacies. Measuring a sportsman’s legacy is something very personal. Even though we talk about legacies within the tennis community, it does not just stop there.

    Do the people in Serbia believe that Nadal’s legacy is greater than their hero, Djokovic? The same can be said for the people of Spain.

    A sportsman’s legacy is measured in what effect it has on you as an individual and not on a bunch of statistics beaming through a computer screen.

Where can I comment?

Stay on your game

Latest news, insights, and forecasts on your teams across leagues.

Choose Teams
Get it on the App StoreGet it on Google Play

Real-time news for your teams right on your mobile device.

Download
Copyright © 2017 Bleacher Report, Inc. Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. All Rights Reserved. BleacherReport.com is part of Bleacher Report – Turner Sports Network, part of the Turner Sports and Entertainment Network. Certain photos copyright © 2017 Getty Images. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of Getty Images is strictly prohibited. AdChoices