How does Djokovic's unbeaten run in 2020 compare to his 41-0 start in 2011?
- A comparision of Djokovic's unbeaten start in 2020 to his 41-0 start in 2011.
Novak Djokovic produced one of the best starts to an ATP season by any player when he went 41-0 in 2011, raking up titles at the Australian Open, Dubai, Indian Wells, Miami, Belgrade, Madrid, and Rome before enduring his first loss of the season to Roger Federer in the 2011 Roland Garros semifinals.
Nine seasons later, the Serb has produced his longest winning run at the beginning of a season since that historic 41-0 start in 2011, winning all his 6 singles matches to lead Team Serbia to the inaugural ATP Cup, lifting a record-extending 8th Australian Open title, and a 5th title triumph in Dubai to go 18-0 for the year.
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It marks the 15th consecutive season the 32-year-old has won multiple titles in a season, a streak matched only by Rafael Nadal who did so from 2005 to 2019.
With the cancellation of the Indian Wells and Miami Masters owing to Covid-19 concerns, Djokovic would not get the chance to extend his perfect start to the season on his preferred surface of hardcourt unless he goes unbeaten in, what looks increasingly likely to be, a severely truncated clay stint of the season.
Nevertheless, the Serb has produced the best start to a season by any player since Roger Federer went 17-0 in 2018 before losing in the Indian Wells final. On that note, let us compare on various parameters Djokovic's unbeaten 18-0 start in 2020 to his epic 41-0 start in 2011.
#1. Wins over top-10 opposition
During his epic start to the 2011 season, Djokovic raked up wins over second-ranked Federer in the Australian Open semifinals, Dubai final, and Indian Wells semifinals, while beating the top-ranked Nadal in successive finals at Indian Wells, Miami, Madrid, and Rome.
The win over Nadal in the Rome final marked Djokovic's 13th consecutive win over top-10 opposition that season.
In 2020, the Serb is a combined 7-0 against the world's top-10, which includes a win apiece against Nadal (ATP Cup), Federer (Australian Open), Gael Monfils (ATP Cup and Dubai), Daniil Medvedev (ATP Cup), Dominic Thiem (Australian Open), and Stefanos Tsitsipas (Dubai).
At this stage of the season in 2011, Djokovic was 5-0 against Top-10 players.
WINNER: Its early days but Djokovic of 2020 gets the edge in this category.
#2. Proportion of straight-set wins to total wins
The degree of dominance of a player, though not in absolute terms, may be best gauged by how convincingly he wins his matches during his dominant spell. In other words, it is a measure of how many matches he wins by not dropping a set.
During his impressive 41-0 start in 2011, Djokovic dropped a set in 10 of his wins, which gives him a rate of 75% straight-set wins.
Fast forward to 2020, the Serb has conceded a set in 4 matches during his 18-0 start to the season, which gives him a rate of 77.7% straight-set wins.
WINNER: Djokovic of 2020.
#3. No. of games dropped per match
In 2011, while going 41-0 to start the season, Djokovic dropped a total of exactly 300 games, which gives him an average of 7.3 games conceded per match. During this run, the Serb also played 24 matches on hardcourt and 17 on clay.
Nine years later, during his ongoing 18-0 start to the 2020 season, Djokovic has dropped 176 games. at an average of 9.8 games per match even though he has had a higher proportion of straight-set wins in 2020 as compared to 211. This is despite the fact that the Serb has played all his matches in 2020 on his preferred surface of hardcourt.
For a more like for like comparison, if Djokovic's hardcourt record is taken into account during his 41-0 start in 2011, the Serb's games per match dropped drops down to 7.04, which is roughly 3 games less per match than he has conceded in 2020.
WINNER: Djokovic of 2011.
#4. Tiebreak Record
Djokovic has won all his 8 tiebreaks in 2020 which includes 4 at the inaugural ATP Cup, 3 at the Australian Open (first round against Jan-Lennard Struff, quarterfinals against Milos Raonic, and Roger Federer in the semifinals) and 1 at the Dubai Open (semifinals against Gael Monfils).
WINNER: Djokovic of 2020.
Even though Djokovic of 2020 has dropped more games per match (9.8) than he did in 2011 (7.3), the latest version of the Serb has been more ruthless and clinical as is evident in key parameters like a higher proportion of straight-set wins and a perfect tiebreak record.
It goes to suggest that, at 32, Djokovic could have another banner season in 2020 like the ones he had in 2011 and 2015.