Novak Djokovic will finish 2011 as the No. 1 player in the ATP Rankings. World No.2 Rafael Nadal’s third-round loss at the Shanghai Rolex Masters on Thursday assured the Serb of the top ranking come the end of the season. In doing so, Djokovic becomes the 16th different player to finish No. 1 in the history of the ATP Rankings.
He began his outstanding season with a 41-match winning streak (43 overall back to last year). He has won a career-high 10 titles in 11 finals, including his second Australian Open and first US Open crowns.
En route to a 64-3 match record, he has captured a record five ATP Masters 1000 Series titles this season, in Indian Wells, Miami, Madrid, Rome and Montreal. He has also compiled a 20-2 mark vs. Top 10 opponents, defeating rivals Nadal six times and Federer four times so far in 2011.
Can anyone of Djokovic's rivals replicate such a season in 2012? Let see the contenders.
No. It's difficult to see the Spaniard winning three Grand Slam titles next year, let alone one. Gone are the days when Nadal simply had to turn up to get a French Open title—next year, everything he'll achieve will come at an extra cost. Nadal's losses to Djokovic this year have eaten away at his invincibility and fear factor for the Spaniard is probably at the lowest it has ever been. Nadal could get a slam feasibly and maybe two if God shines his birthday-best smile really hard at him.
Yes. Andy Murray is set for a very interesting season in 2012. So far, his contemporaries have outperformed him, his detractors are having the time of their lives and he is not getting any younger. Nadal had had his go, Djokovic has had his turn—is it Murray's turn now? The Scot has the game-plan to face down Djokovic, he can also beat Nadal and Federer—the real test is can he beat them all in one Grand Slam tournament. I'll say Murray for a slam next year. Australian Open or US Open being the likeliest.
No. Federer's best chance for a slam is the Australian Open and once the rigors of the season sets in, he'll likely find it hard outlast Nadal, Murray or Djokovic.