Novak Djokovic's 3 best starts to an ATP season

Djokovic hoists aloft a record-extending 8th Australian Open title
Djokovic hoists aloft a record-extending 8th Australian Open title

Novak Djokovic has had a strong start to the 2020 season. The Serb started off by winning all 6 of his singles matches to help Team Serbia lift the inaugural ATP Cup before successfully defending his Australian Open title.

The 32-year-old beat six-time champion Roger Federer for the fourth time in an Australian Open semifinal and recovered from two sets to one down to beat Dominic Thiem in the final, lifting a record-extending 8th title at the tournament in the process. With the Melbourne triumph, Djokovic moved to 13-0 for the season.

Also read: 3 milestones accomplished by Djokovic at the 2020 Australian Open.

Appearing at the Dubai Open for the first time since a quarterfinal defeat to Feliciano Lopez in 2016, Djokovic beat Tunisia's Malek Jaziri and German veteran Philipp Kohlschreiber in successive matches, without the loss of a set, to extend his perfect start to the season to 15-0.

Ahead of his quarterfinal clash with Russia's Karen Khachanov, let us have a look at Djokovic's three best starts to an ATP season:

#3: 2020 (15-0)

Djokovic acknowledges the crowd after beating Kohlschreiber in the second round in Dubai
Djokovic acknowledges the crowd after beating Kohlschreiber in the second round in Dubai

Djokovic started his 2020 season by reeling off wins over Kevin Anderson, Gael Monfils, Cristian Garin, Denis Shapovalov, Daniil Medvedev, and Rafael Nadal to help Serbia lift the inaugural 2020 ATP Cup title at the expense of Team Spain in the final.

Far from being fatigued by a strenous start to the season, Djokovic dropped a set against German Jan-Lennard Struff in the opening round of the Australian Open before winning 5 consecutive matches in straight sets to reach a record 8th Australian Open final.

The Serb displayed nerves of steel in the final against Thiem, fighting back from a two sets to one deficit for the first time in 8 Grand Slam finals to extend his perfect record in Australian Open title matches to 8-0. In the process, Djokovic lifted his 17th Grand Slam singles title to move to within 3 of all-time leader Roger Federer's tally of 20.

Following his Australian Open title run, Djokovic entered the Dubai Open for the first time in 4 years and promptly got to business, seeing off Malek Jaziri and Philipp Kohlschreiber for the loss of 7 cumulative games to move into his 10th quarterfinal at the tournament.

In the process, Djokovic extended his perfect start to the season to 15-0 and he will now prepare to take on his 2018 Paris-Bercy final conqueror Karen Khachanov for a place in the last 4.

Also read: 4 milestones Djokovic could achieve in 2020.

#2: 2013 (17-0)

Djokovic lifts the 2013 Australian Open title
Djokovic lifts the 2013 Australian Open title

Two-time defending champion Novak Djokovic kicked off the 2013 season with 3 consecutive straight-set wins over Paul-Henri Mathieu, Ryan Harrison, and Radek Stepanek respectively before needing a 12-10 fifth-set win over Stanislas Wawrinka in the fourth round to reach the Australian Open quarterfinals.

Wins over Tomas Berdych and David Ferrer landed Djokovic in a fourth summit clash at Melbourne Park where he faced Andy Murray in a repeat of the pair's 2011 title match. After dropping the first set in a tiebreak, Djokovic reeled off the next three sets to become the first player in the Open Era to complete a 'three peat' at the Australian Open.

In the process, Djokovic lifted his 4th title at Melbourne Park, and 6th Grand Slam title overall.

In his next match, Djokovic beat Belgian Olivier Rochus in straight sets on the clay courts of Charleroi in a Davis Cup first-round tie between Serbia and Belgium.

Following his Davis Cup exploits, the then 25-year-old Serb arrived in Dubai where he reeled off 5 consecutive wins to lift his 4th title at the tournament.

His good form continued at his next stop, Indian Wells, where he reeled off successive straight set wins over Fabio Fognini, Grigor Dimitrov, Sam Querrey, and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga before a three-set loss in the quarterfinals to Juan Martin Del Potro ended his perfect start (17-0) to the season.

#1: 2011 (41-0)

Djokovic lifted his 2nd Grand Slam title at the 2011 Australian Open
Djokovic lifted his 2nd Grand Slam title at the 2011 Australian Open

In one of the best-ever starts to an ATP Tour season by any player, Novak Djokovic went 41-0 in 2011 before Roger Federer ended his streak one short of John McEnroe's record 42-0 start to the 1984 season.

Djokovic started the season by beating Andy Murray in the Australian Open final to lift his 2nd Grand Slam title before beating Federer in a three-set Dubai final to become the only player other than the Swiss himself to complete a three-peat at the tournament.

The Serb then reeled off wins over Andrey Golubev, Ernests Gulbis, Viktor Troicki, and Richard Gasquet - all in straight sets - before dropping a set against Roger Federer in the semi-finals.

In a repeat of the Indian Wells final, Djokovic conquered Nadal in a third-set tiebreak to lift his second title at the tournament, in the process becoming the first player since Federer in 2006 to win the Indian Wells-Miami 'sunshine' double.

Djokovic started the clay swing by beating Feliciano Lopez to lift the inaugural Belgrade Open title before beating Nadal in the title matches in Madrid and Rome to win a staggering 7th title of the season.

It looked like the Serb would go on to lift his first Grand Slam title on clay but a four-set defeat to Federer in the Roland Garros semifinals prevented a fifth final of the season against Nadal as his stunning 41-0 start to the season was brought to an end.


Also read: Was Federer of the 2000s more dominant than Djokovic of the 2010s?

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Edited by Arvind Sriram
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