Novak Djokovic: Could He Possibly Be as Good in 2012 as He Was in 2011?
Novak Djokovic is having in 2011 what many are considering to be the best season ever played by a tennis professional.
He has won 10 titles—including three out of the four Grand Slams and five Masters 1000—accounting for an amazing 64-3 win-loss record.
He is the man of the hour, and the eyes of the tennis world are on him. But the big question for 2012 is this: Will Djokovic repeat the success he had in 2011?
The greatest challenge is that only part of what is necessary for him to be as successful next year is in his hand, while other important ingredients may not be.
Tennis is a tough sport and performing at the highest level is even tougher. It takes a lot of wins to build the level of confidence that Djokovic has now, but it may take only one defeat to ruin it all.
Let’s take a look at some issues that will impact Novak Djokovic’s 2012 season and how he will have to deal with them.
Issue No. 6: His Health
Djokovic’s style of play is physically demanding. His matches take a lot out of him and he needs time to recover.
After the 2011 US Open, Djokovic had health issues and was forced to retire from his Davis Cup match against Argentina. He also had to pull out of Shanghai.
The question is whether or not his body will be able to hold up to another brutally physical season is a valid one.
Issue No. 5: The Pressure of Being the Top Ranked Tennis Player on the Planet
A common agreement among the few ATP tour players who have been ranked number one is that it is much easier getting to the top spot in the rankings than it is to remain on top for a long time.
There are 25 players that occupied this spot since the ATP created the current ranking system in 1973, but only 11 of them have held it for longer than one year.
Novak has been number one in the world for sixteen weeks so far, and will have a lot of points to defend starting in January of 2012.
Issue No. 4: The Pressure of Repeating His 2011 Performance
Since Dokovic’s performance was so remarkable in 2011, people will expect him not only to hold the No. 1 spot in the rankings, but also to have a comparable 2012.
Different from the mathematical pressure of holding the top of the ranking by defending points, this issue is based on intangibles. It also may be a harder issue to overcome as it deals with the people’s and the media’s perception and expectations.
This one is completely out of the Serbian’s control.
Issue No. 3: Roger Federer
Although the great Swiss is on the latter part of his career and recently lost third place in the rankings to Andy Murray, Federer was the only real threat to Novak Dokovic in 2011.
Roger beat Novak in the semifinal of the French Open and miraculously did not upset him again in the semifinal of the US Open.
Expect Roger Federer to step up in 2012. He is still motivated, far from being done, and should represent a great challenge to Novak.
Issue No. 2: Andy Murray
Andy Murray is having a great latter part of the season. That should be a springboard for him to start 2012 with confidence.
Now among the top three players in the world, he is the one who has the most to prove and this should happen sooner than later.
He is talented and willing to put the effort it takes to get to the top. Help in the form of "real coaching" should be mostly welcomed.
Djokovic and Murray's head-to-head record is 6-4 in the Serbian’s favor. They should provide some entertaining encounters in 2012.
Issue No.1: Rafael Nadal
The Spaniard should, by far, represent the greatest threat to Novak’s dominance in 2012.
Although Djokovic won the last six matches, Nadal still has the edge in the head-to-head battles, winning 16 of the 29 match-ups.
Apart from statistics, Rafael Nadal is too competitive and will not settle for the way things are between the two players.
Expect Rafa to bounce back and find a way to make things more competitive for Novak in 2012.