Novak Djokovic drastically altered the leadership landscape in men’s tennis in 2011.
The year began with Rafael Nadal ranked world No. 1, hoping to become the first man since Rod Laver in 1969 to hold all four major championships at one time. But Nadal fell during the Australian Open quarterfinals, dashing his once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
Nadal, who had orchestrated an amazing 2010, would find himself supplanted in 2011 by Djokovic, who began the year by winning the Australian Open.
The Serb never lost in 2011 until Roger Federer stopped him at the finish line during the French Open semifinals. Djokovic would replace Federer as world No. 2, and then take over the No. 1 spot from Nadal at the 2011 Wimbledon tournament.
The first six months of the season focused on Djokovic and his win streak, highlighted by his victories over the top-ranked players in the world during some very significant matches.
Once the tour turned indoor, Djokovic and Nadal faded, as Murray, then Federer surged at the end of the season.
Here are the 12 most significant matches of 2011—those that most affected the established order.