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Is Novak Djokovic Getting the Credit That He Deserves?

NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 13:  2011 US Open Singles Men's Champion Novak Djokovic of Serbia is during an appearance on CBS the Early Show on September 13, 2011 in New York City. Djokovic defeated Rafael Nadal of Spain in 4 sets during their match September 12, 2011 at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.  (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images for ATP)
Mike Stobe/Getty Images
Sukhpreet AujlaContributor IIIJune 22, 2016

Is Novak Djokovic getting his proper due for a historic season this year?

In a word: no.

Djokovic has won 66 matches already this year, a total that would be more than respectable for any of the top 10 payers come the end of the season. He's won the following: US Open, Wimbledon, Australian Open, Indian Wells, Miami, Rome, Madrid, Canada Masters, Dubai Open and the Belgrade Open. That barely tells the whole story.

It is not like Djokovic is playing in an era where there is a dearth of talent; he's playing with two of the undoubted greatest players of all time. He's beaten Nadal six times out of six, in six major finals, winning in straight sets, or coming from one set down to clinch the victory.

Against Federer it’s been almost equally dominant, losing to him once at Roland Garros, where he may have been rusty from not having played for five days up to that point. Although it’s difficult to say if he would have won—Federer was playing the best match he's ever played on clay, in my opinion.

Add to this the mental baggage that Djokovic was surely carrying coming into this season. Before the Australian Open it was three years since he won his first one, defeating Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in four sets. The talk was that maybe he was a "one-slam wonder." It appeared he was a victim of the quality of tennis in his era—consistently ranked at No. 3 in the world it looked like this would be his career position, but Djokovic has turned all that around this year with his sheer dominance of the entire field.

LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 03:  Novak Djokovic of Serbia celebrates after winning his final round Gentlemen's match against Rafael Nadal of Spain on Day Thirteen of the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on Jul
Julian Finney/Getty Images

Yet it's not hard to find people criticizing him, or questioning the legitimacy of his outstanding run for whatever reasons they can find. Against Federer in the US Open semi-final Djokovic hit an amazing winning return on the first match point, there was a muted applause so Djokovic threw his arms in the air in a gesture that suggested "what do I have to do to get some credit" and the crowd duly responded.

However on some forums people were saying it was unsportsmanlike, that he was distracting Federer, even though Federer said this wasn't the case afterwards. Players like Monfils and Tsonga never appear to be criticized for their constant crowd-playing antics yet Djokovic does. It looks like the Federer fans will find whatever reason they need to excuse their man a poor performance. If a top player like Federer cannot close a match out with two points on serve then he did not deserve to be in the final.

It would also have been very easy for Djokovic to be moody in New York, considering how he was treated by them a few years back, yet he constantly applauds them for their support, and engages with them in post-match interviews unlike any other player on the tour.

Djokovic's year will probably never be repeated, he now deserves to be considered at least a candidate to be one of the greatest of all time. People need to stop waiting for him to start losing and begin appreciating a feat that before this season would have been considered impossible. 

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