Novak Djokovic, 24, silenced critics with an astonishing 43-match win streak to start the season. He claimed 10 titles, including three major — the Australian Open, Wimbledon and US Open. Djokovic defeated Rafael Nadal in all six meetings en route to claiming the world No. 1 ranking. Fatigue and injury caught up to the Serbian star late in the year — but not enough to detract from all he accomplished.
The first half of the season looked rather grim for American tennis. The aging Williams sisters were battling injuries. Andy Roddick appeared to be a far cry from his top-10 years. The US had lost its Davis Cup tie to Spain on American soil. But enter Donald Young. At the US Open, the former phenom burst onto the scene by defeating No. 14 Stan Wawrinka in a five-set second-round thriller. Young went on to top Juan Ignacio Chela in three sets to reach the round of 16 for the first time. At 22, Young joined fellow Americans Roddick, Mardy Fish and John Isner in the fourth round. While only Roddick and Isner advanced to the quarters, Young proved that American tennis does, in fact, have a future.
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China's Li Na began the year defeating Kim Clijsters to win the title in Sydney just a week before the Australian Open. In Melbourne, the ninth-seeded Li would go on to defeat Victoria Azarenka and Caroline Wozniacki before reaching the final against Kim Clijsters. Again. This time, Clijsters got the upper hand to win the Australian Open. Li wouldn't win another match until mid-April, but then came the French Open. In her two-week run in Paris, Li charmed the media with her humor, and she lost only two sets en route to her first Slam title and the first major title won by any Asian player.
Not done yet
Roger Federer turned 30 in 2011, and tennis players aren't supposed to last much past the big 3-0. Rafael Nadal surged through 2010, Novak Djokovic took the reins and dominated the first half of 2011 and Federer looked as if his younger rivals might have the upper hand. But after the US Open, Federer took a break from the demands of the ATP schedule and reappeared in Basel, Switzerland, in late October ready to rock and roll. And he did. Federer won his last 15 matches of the season and claimed titles in Basel, Paris and London at the ATP Tour Finals. Federer ended 2011 by winning his 70th career title.
At various points in 2011 one of these four dominated the men's game. Most notable, of course, was Novak Djokovic's 43-match win streak to begin the season. Roger Federer ended the year with a 15-match, three-title streak of his own and Andy Murray took two titles in Asia after the US Open. Combined, the four won 22 titles (Djokovic, 10; Rafael Nadal, 3; Murray, 5; and Federer, 4) and more than $31 million in prize money. Djokovic won the Australian Open (defeating Murray), Wimbledon and the US Open (defeating Nadal in both). Nadal defeated Federer to win the French Open. Federer won the ATP World Tour Finals, and Nadal led Spain to a fifth Davis Cup.