Novak Djokovic is on the most dominant run in tennis history
To say Novak Djokovic dominates men’s tennis is like saying Google does pretty well with in the search-engine department. The world No. 1 is setting records almost weekly for biggest lead for a top-ranked player and has also done something that has to be unprecedented in the history of the sport. Here are the current rankings, which will change four days from now after the results from the Miami Open (which Djokovic won last year and is playing in the semifinals this year):
The first thing that jumps out is that the Nos. 2 and 3 (Andy Murray and Roger Federer) could combine their points and still not have enough to pass Djokovic. Think about that for a second. In an era defined by the "The Big Four," in which Federer, Djokovic, Murray and Rafael Nadal are supposed to be these tennis equals, the total output over the past 52 weeks of the second- and third-best players together still can’t touch that of Novak Djokovic’s. That, my friends, is dominance.
But during coverage of Djokovic’s win over Tomas Berdych in the Miami quarterfinals, ESPN mentioned an even-more unbelievable statistic. Djokovic has won three of the past four majors and made the final in the other. Based on the ATP’s rankings system, that’s good for 7,200 points (2,000 points for winning and 1,200 points for making the final). OK, now take that away. All those points from the Slams, the four biggest events in the sport: Just erase them.
Now Djokovic has 9,340 points which, unbelievably, is still good enough to put him at No. 1 and by almost 1,000 points at that! Again, this is one that sounds cool but you can’t fully appreciate until you wrap your head around it. There are four tiers of ATP tournaments. The Grand Slams are the top. Djokovic almost exclusively plays the next two tiers, the second of which gives out 1,000 rankings points for a winner and the third which doles 500. Basically, the Grand Slams have their ranking-point system. It’s cut in half for the nine Masters 1000 events and then cut in half again for the Masters 500 events. Yet even with their points from the four inflated Grand Slams against Djokovic’s 0, Federer and Murray can’t touch him. And, again, he’s using just tournaments from which the best you do is gain either half the total of a Slam or one-quarter the total.
There’s a logic to it. Djokovic has taken all the big points in the Slams (7,200 out of 12,800 available in finals) and by doing the same at the Masters 1000s (7,200 out of 14,400), he’s ensured this level of dominance provided that he’s not beating the same competitor in every big tournament.
One more: Though there are more rankings points up for grabs than ever before (just because the ATP has changed its system over the years), Djokovic set the record for largest gap between No. 1 and No. 2 a few times last year, starting in April with he built a 5,460 point lead over Roger Federer. He did it again in August with his 5,605 point margin over Andy Murray.
Djokovic’s current lead: 8,170 points. That ratio is higher than anything I could find during Federer’s peak, mainly because just as he was getting into high gear, a teenaged Spaniard was starting to dominate the sport on clay.
We’re in the midst of tennis history, a run that, by the time it’s all said and done, could be the greatest the sport has ever seen. Enjoy it.