"A remarkable year."
"The best season ever."
"One of the greats of the game."
"Who can stop him?"
These are lines we've all been reading and re-reading constantly since Novak Djokovic won the US Open.
Yet, I just can't stop myself from trying to understand and analyze what has changed in his game that has made him so dominant and resilient. Yes. There are a lot of reasons mentioned. The gluten-free diet. The belief in himself. The fitness levels have improved.
True. All are valid.
But, I wanted to see some numbers comparing his 2010 season with the current one. Surely, numbers reveal a lot. So, I went across to the ATP site and fetched some details on Novak's stats from 2010 and 2011.
Here are the few differences I could note:
|1st Serve %||64||66|
|1st Serve Points Won %||71||74|
|2nd Serve Points Won %|| 52 ||56|
|Serve Games Won % ||82||87|
|Break Points Saved % ||67||67|
|Return 1st Serve Points Won % ||34||37|
|Return 2nd Serve Points Won % ||54||58|
|Break Points Won % ||45||48|
|Return Games Won % || 32 ||41|
Clearly, the numbers show that Novak's serve has made the biggest impact here. I can't believe he had 282 double faults last year. It's less than half that number so far this year. The serve percentages have been marginally better too, which has probably led to more winners than in the previous year. He has been winning more of his service games by improving these numbers from 2010.
Another huge plus for him has been the fact that he has won 10 percent more return games than last year. This shows that his mentality and belief has jumped a notch up and it's making a huge impact on his confidence levels too. This means, he's converting more break chances and getting more winners off his return.
One more thing noticeable is the fact that nothing in these stats show any decline in any part of his game whatsoever. Everything has been on the rise. Truly remarkable!
Sadly, ATP does not provide stats on a player's forehand/backhand performance. I'm pretty sure the percentages have been higher than last year.
With these statistics in hand, I can very confidently point out that his mental game combined with his improved serve has made what Djokovic is today. It's not the end of the year yet, so the numbers are bound to change.
But this has been somewhat of an amazing improvement in terms of the numbers we see here. Can he do better than this? Only time will tell....