Why Roger Federer's 2006 season beats Novak Djokovic's 2015 season
- How Federer's 2006 season beats Djokovic's 2015 season.
It's 2020 right now. Novak Djokovic is currently on a 18-match winning streak, having gone undefeated in the season so far.
Djokovic led the charge for Team Serbia in the inaugural ATP Cup, where they beat a Rafa Nadal-led Spain in the final. The Serb then headed to Melbourne, to defend his Australian Open title. Defeating Dominic Thiem in a nail-biting final that went five sets, Djokovic won his 17th Grand Slam and 8th title at Melbourne Park.
From there he went on to lift the title in Dubai, defeating the young and upcoming Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas in the final. This is probably the best start Djokovic could've asked for, putting together an unblemished record and bagging 3 titles along the way.
On the other hand, Roger Federer's 22nd season as a professional has had quite a rocky start. He withdrew from the ATP Cup to relax and maximise his chances at the Australian Open. Yet this extra rest couldn't turn his fortunes, as he suffered through two epic 5-setters in the 3rd round and the quarterfinals.
Due to these long battles, he came out injured in the semifinal match against Djokovic, and needless to say he lost in straight sets. Then some days later came the announcement that he'll be away from the tour until May, and will be returning directly in the grass season.
But even though the two players have had contrasting starts to their season, both of them have had one season where they were into beast mode - not for a tournament or two, but for the entire year! Yes, I am talking about the mind-blowing 2006 season of Federer, and the equally impressive 2015 season of Djokovic.
Both seasons are considered among the best in the history of the sport. With very little to separate them, here are a few reasons why Federer's 2006 season is superior to Djokovic's 2015 season.
1. Winning percentage
In any sport, one of the most important questions regarding a player is how much he/she wins. If we look at the all-time list, Djokovic's 2015 season ranks behind not only Federer's 2006 season, but also the Swiss' 2005 one.
While Djokovic had an excellent 93.2 win percentage in 2015, Federer had an incredible 94.8% win record. But most amazingly, his 2005 season's win percentage is even higher at a mind-boggling 95.3 percent!
In terms of pure match play, the Swiss Maestro definitely comes out on top in this category.
While Djokovic won an amazing 11 titles in 2015, Federer went a notch higher and won 12 titles in 2006. But this doesn't give the full picture, because Djokovic won seven Masters events (including ATP World Tour Finals) compared to Federer’s five.
So it's actually a toss-up between number of titles and quality of titles.
3. Grand Slams
Both Federer and Djokovic were 27-1 in Grand Slams during their respective years, winning the Australian Open, Wimbledon and the US Open while losing the French Open final (interestingly, both in four sets).
Federer's loss was at the hands of the greatest claycourter of all-time – Rafael Nadal - while Djokovic's loss came to the rank underdog Stan Wawrinka.
Federer gets the edge here, by virtue of facing a tougher opponent in the only Slam match he lost. For a deeper comparison, Federer lost 13 sets at the Slams in 2006, compared to Dkokovic’s 14 in 2015.
4. Average loss rank
While win percentages do give an idea about a player's performance, it's also necessary to look at the quality of players to which he lost. In 2006, Federer lost to Nadal four times (three times on red clay) and once to a young Andy Murray.
Djokovic on the other hand lost to Federer three times in 2015, but also lost to some lower-level players like Ivo Karlovic. In the end, the average rank of Federer’s defeats was world No. 5.8, compared to world No. 7.8 for Novak.
It's always interesting to see how a player ends the season. Federer finished 2006 on a 29-match winning streak. On the other hand, Djokovic’s longest streak in 2015 was 28 matches, broken by Wawrinka in the French Open final. Djokovic also lost to a heavily bearded Roger at the ATP World Tour Finals, breaking a 23-match win streak.
Although both the seasons were pretty mind-numbing, it's amazing to see how tiny margins can give one player just a slight edge over the other. While Djokovic was absolutely at his best in 2015, it was amazing to see how Federer ruthlessly crushed his opponents in 2006.Published 04 Mar 2020, 01:52 IST