Novak Djokovic: Secrets to His Success in 2011

Erik WallulisContributor IIIOctober 10, 2011

Novak Djokovic: Secrets to His Success in 2011

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    Novak Djokovic is now indisputably the world's greatest tennis player. He has beaten Nadal in every slam final in which they have played, and has only lost to Federer once the entire year. Both used to dominate him.

    His record against two of the greatest players of all time reflects just how much he has improved since last year, and the fact that he won three out of four grand slams during the calendar year shows that it isn't fleeting.

    Here are the ways that Djokovic's game has improved.

1. Better Forehand

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    Djokovic's backhand has always been considered first-class, but his forehand something of a liability.

    That is no longer the case.

    Djokovic is able to dictate play and place his forehand with pinpoint accuracy and debilitating consistency. He hits with more topspin, and the angles he has been able to generate have been breathtaking.

    It has become a serious weapon.

2. Fewer Drop Shots

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    Djokovic used to fall back to this play at some very inopportune moments, and the shot was never completely reliable.

    This year he is more patient in rallies and less prone to try to end them with desperate plays.

3. More Consistent Serve

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    When he was breaking into the tennis scene in 2007, Djokovic's serve was seen as one of his best weapons. 

    Last year, though, it fell apart. He committed far too many double faults and had a first serve percentage that could abandon him at crucial moments.

    This year, though, his old form and motion are back, and his opponents are having more and more trouble getting into his service games because of it.

4. Improved Fitness

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    Djokovic used to retire under strange circumstances, even at the latter stages of the biggest events. Because of this his fitness was often questioned.

    That is no longer the case, and he's now considered the fittest player on tour, even above the indefatigable Rafael Nadal.

5. Better Point Construction

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    Rafael Nadal has never been given enough credit for how good he is at setting up a point. Djokovic is now even better than him.

    Djokovic has improved immensely at patiently rallying until he can set up a backhand winner, or get his opponent out of position so he can close at the net. When the rally gets extended, Djokovic is now going to be the player who wins it.

6. Improved on-Court Mentality

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    Djokovic used to let weather conditions or the play of his opposition get to him. Now he is practically impenetrable.

    Djokovic is now able to wear his opponent down physically and mentally due to just how much he has improved in both areas.

7. Confidence

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    Amassing a 64-3 record with three grand slam titles to your name clearly means Djokovic is playing with tremendous confidence.

    Players used to fear Nadal more than any other opponent because of his fearlessness during the most important moments of a match. Djokovic is now better than Nadal in that regard as well, and his confidence has led to the greatest season of his career and one of the best of all time.

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