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The Djokovic Anomaly

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Post by It Must Be Love Fri 30 Jan 2015, 1:37 pm

I thought of writing this article after the Australian Open finishes, but given the topsy turvy nature of today's match and Nole stumbling through, I think this isn't a bad time to analyse the topic.

The issue I'm talking about in the title is Djokovic's comparatively poor performances in Slams since 2011, where he has won 'only' (pretty harsh to use that term) 1 slam a year.
The reason I'm so surprised by the fact he's only won 1 slam a year, and hence call it an anomaly despite it being a trend for the past 3 years, is a) He seems to dominate the non Slam events so convincingly, and b) his game has stayed pretty similar from 2011, while Nadal has been injured for periods, Federer has got older and declined a bit, and Murray even had back injuries and then surgery which seemed to affect him for a year or so.

So how, with all of that in mind, has Djokovic only won 2/11 of the Slams after his amazing epic against Nadal in AO 2012?

I did a stats check for 2014, and I found this:
Outside Slams, Djokovic won 6 titles, and lost 5 matches. So outside slams, for the whole year, he won more titles than he didn't. Which is ridiculously good. Yet he only won 1 slam, and lost 3.
In 2012, 2013, and 2014, Djokovic won EVERY single match he played in the World Tour Finals, beating all the top 8 players he encountered.

I will now do my perception of Djokovic's slam performance since 2012. I genuinely think 2014 was the worst year for Novak in terms of doing worse than expectations:

2012-
Aus Open- Wins epic, at this point Djokovic has won the last 3 slams and won 4 out of last 5.
French Open- Loses to Nadal, not exactly punishable, but if not for the double fault match point down he could have atleast pushed it to 5 sets
Wimbledon- Loses to Federer, like Nadal at FO not exactly punishable
USO- Loses to Murray, Murray was on form and dealt with the wind better (which Nole never seems comfortable with)

So 2012 was a bit disappointing, but no alarming losses

2013-
Aus Open- Plays great to beat a Stan on fire, then dismiss Murray in 4 sets
French Open- Again losing to Nadal in 5 sets in FO is not a crime, but it could have been even closer if he hadn't touched the net
Wimbledon- Murray played great in the final, but Djokovic was tactically awful. Why come to the net on poor approaches against one of the best passers in the world ? Really poor, and Djokovic did not even deserve to win a set, despite being a break up in each
US Open- Fair enough, Nadal was on fire here; but Djokovic did have some chances and would be disappointed to not even make it a 5 set match

So the theme for 2012 and 2013 is this: None of the losses were particularly alarming, but he seemed to lose more than 50% of matches for matches that before the match you'd say was a 50:50 match. So a bit disappointing.
2014 for me was the worst year.

2014-
Aus Open- Stan played really great, but for 2 sets Djokovic just disappeared. And the muck-up match point down was inexcusable.
French Open- He would have been disappointed to not bring Nadal to atleast 5 sets here
Wimbledon- Played pretty poorly against both Cilic and Dimitrov in the run-up to the final, just about got through both, and then stepped it up really well for Federer in the final
US Open- Djokovic was really out of sorts against Nishikori. Yes Kei is very skilful and was playing well, but Djokovic was constantly making uncharacteristic unforced errors. Both Raonic and Wawrinka put up a far greater fights against Nishikori than Djokovic.

So 2014 was the most disappointing for me. With Nadal out injured for periods, Federer not peaking for slams, Murray coming back from injury, none of the young guns impressing hugely- I still don't understand how Djokovic only won 1 slam that year.

I see the past 3 years as a bit of an anomaly. I always thought to myself that I'd be writing the article after Djokovic had won the Australian Open, with me saying that Djokovic has now turned it around, and will win multiple slams this year for the first time since 2011.
I still stick by that, despite his poor display vs Stan today; I just don't see how this anomaly of him messing up in Slams for seemingly no reason while doing so well elsewhere can continue.

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Post by Josiah Maiestas Fri 30 Jan 2015, 1:48 pm

Anxiety creeps in his game when the Slams come round, definitely since 2012. I can only see him winning the final if Murray plays well below his best, I know he hasn't lost an AO final before but he's clearly not that great from the baseline and he HAS to be to beat Murray
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Post by socal1976 Fri 30 Jan 2015, 1:49 pm

Good analysis IMBL. I think he is a player that can get tight out there. It happens to the best of them. When he is loose and relaxed like he is at the masters he plays better. He is a player who can both thrive and crumble under pressure. He almost did against Stan today. But I think you also have to give credit to his opposition, beating Nadal at RG isn't easy he played some great tennis and lost to the best clay courter anyone has ever seen in some tough matches. Nish turned in a remarkable performance on that day which if he replicated against anyone he probably would have won. I think it is a bit nitpicking considering all that he has accomplished and how close he is in most of those losses. Fedal maybe set the bar so high that we can't appreciate the consistently high levels of Novak. For my money I think he will 2 or more slams this year and put a lot of this talk to bed, and if he doesn't so what. He retires today as one of the all time greats of the game. Its all gravy from here on out for the 3 times YE 1 an 7 time slam champion if he loses every match from here on out. At least he is always there at the working end of slams. Which is more than can be said of a lot of great players over the years who peaked quickly but weren't able to maintain it slam after slam after slam.

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Post by HM Murdock Fri 30 Jan 2015, 2:18 pm

Well researched, IMBL, but there is a flaw.

When a player has been strong (near dominant) outside of slams for 4 years but has only won multiple slams in one year, then it is the year that he DID win multiple slams that is the anomaly!

This is why I get a lot of stick about being pessimistic about Djokovic, or "jinxing" etc etc. People think that a player who wins that much outside of slams, should naturally be winning plenty of slams.

But, because I follow Djokovic pretty closely, all the matches you discuss above are fresh in my mind. I've sat there in frustration, wondering why he isn't producing his best in these big matches.

In 2012, I spent most of the year wondering what was up with him. But when the same trends occur in 2013 and 2014, the only sensible conclusion is that this is what is normal for him and that 2011 was the exceptional year when he bottled the lightning.

So I expect him not to fully perform at slams, not because I'm a pessimist, but because I've lived it for 3 years!

He may, of course, go on to win multiple slams because he is undoubtedly a superb player.

I just think an expectation that he will do so is very speculative.

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Post by HM Murdock Fri 30 Jan 2015, 2:20 pm

Just to add further context: his record is one slam per calendar year but the gap between slam #6 and slam #7 was 18 months.

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Post by socal1976 Fri 30 Jan 2015, 2:25 pm

Yes Murdoch but at the same time he has been the best player in the world when it is all said done in 2011,2012,2014 and he has a commanding lead albeit early in the year this year. So if that is a track record in futility I will take it. People forget but Lendl was the best player of a generation in the 80s and early 90s but he lost more slam finals than he won. He lost to Becker at wimby more than once. He lost to Michael freaking chang of all people at the FO when Chang was throwing out granny serves. The 52 week rankings don't lie, Djokovic has been the best player in the world 3 out of the last four years and most would say he will make 4 out of 5. Hardly, a record of futility, I mean we aren't talking about Caroline Woziniacki or anything here.

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Post by HM Murdock Fri 30 Jan 2015, 2:39 pm

socal1976 wrote: I mean we aren't talking about Caroline Woziniacki or anything here.
I'm quite happy to talk about Caroline Wozniacki though!

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Post by Guest Fri 30 Jan 2015, 2:53 pm

HM Murdoch wrote:Well researched, IMBL, but there is a flaw.

When a player has been strong (near dominant) outside of slams for 4 years but has only won multiple slams in one year, then it is the year that he DID win multiple slams that is the anomaly!

This is why I get a lot of stick about being pessimistic about Djokovic, or "jinxing" etc etc. People think that a player who wins that much outside of slams, should naturally be winning plenty of slams.

But, because I follow Djokovic pretty closely, all the matches you discuss above are fresh in my mind. I've sat there in frustration, wondering why he isn't producing his best in these big matches.

In 2012, I spent most of the year wondering what was up with him. But when the same trends occur in 2013 and 2014, the only sensible conclusion is that this is what is normal for him and that 2011 was the exceptional year when he bottled the lightning.

So I expect him not to fully perform at slams, not because I'm a pessimist, but because I've lived it for 3 years!

He may, of course, go on to win multiple slams because he is undoubtedly a superb player.

I just think an expectation that he will do so is very speculative.

I agree with this.

People somehow expected that 2011 level performances would become the norm. Instead I think he's playing at about his 2010 level or just a smidge above.

I certainly don't agree with the idea that he's a better player today than he was in 2011. I know it's fashionable to just keep stating that a player is getting better, the most ridiculous example of course being that of Federer, who apparently has been getting better every year, even at the ripe old age of 33!

Djokovic is nowhere near as solid as he was in 2011. Hardly missed a ball then and used his BHDTL like a missile. Where is that shot? Seems to have virtually disappeared. FH was also more consistent and penetrating and of course he had an engine that seemed like it could go on forever. Whatever so called advances he's made in coming to the net don't mean squat. He's not gonna win the match from the net; a solid baseline game is what is required in this era, the rest is just distraction. Besides, he's still a pretty mediocre volleyer and I personally don't see much change in that area.

Overall, imo, his level has dropped but he's maintained his number 1 ranking because his 3 main rivals are/have faltered for various reasons AND also because, uniquely, there are no really strong youngsters coming through. Additionally, and again I know this is a dirty word for some people, the homogenised conditions allow a singular style of play to fit all surfaces. This allows the better players to maintain their consistency whilst ensuring there are very few upsets, relatively speaking, and particularly in the earlier rounds of big tournaments.

So, overall, if one accepts that 2011 was the anomaly, then his results since then are probably about right.

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Post by laverfan Fri 30 Jan 2015, 2:59 pm

Is this analysis going to include Djokovic's recent parenthood? It is a life-changing event. I am certain Federer is in the same boat.

Murray and Nadal are relatively unhindered vis-a-vis parenthood so far.


Last edited by laverfan on Fri 30 Jan 2015, 3:01 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Post by socal1976 Fri 30 Jan 2015, 3:00 pm

If his results since 2011 are about right that is still pretty f--cking wonderful emancipator. A slam a year and buttload of masters and world #1.

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Post by bogbrush Fri 30 Jan 2015, 3:06 pm

Excellent analyses. In particular, the modern tendency to pronounce everyone to be getting better every year, resulting in such mental contortions to explain apparently inexplicable results, is largely to blame.

The way I look at is to remove the results between the top players and judge a player on how he does then. It's this which has informed my view of Federer's decline since 2008, which was when he began throwing in losses, with increasing regularity, to ordinary players. It's the same with Nadal, who has begun losing to extremely ordinary players at some Slams.

Djokovic was virtually unbeatable in 2011, only having his incredible streak broken by Fognini at the French, and then striking off again until downed at Cincinnatti before wear and tear got the better of him at the tail end. Since then he simply hasn't been as good, full stop.

The drop off of these guys is such that the opportunity has opened up for others to win some Slams.


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Post by Guest Fri 30 Jan 2015, 3:08 pm

socal1976 wrote:If his results since 2011 are about right that is still pretty f--cking wonderful emancipator. A slam a year and buttload of masters and world #1.

I agree. He is the clear number one player in the world. Not much more to be said really.

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Post by Josiah Maiestas Fri 30 Jan 2015, 3:22 pm

bogbrush wrote:Djokovic was virtually unbeatable in 2011, only having his incredible streak broken by Fognini at the French
Whistle

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Post by socal1976 Fri 30 Jan 2015, 3:27 pm

I agree that Fogninni defeat still sticks in my craw.

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Post by HM Murdock Fri 30 Jan 2015, 3:31 pm

Whether Djokovic is better now than 2011 is an interesting one.

He has a better serve and his ventures to the net are no longer the train wreck they once were.

But his BHDTL is nowhere near as potent as in 2011 and the confidence to play in the moment has dimmed.

So he's improved some weakness but some key strengths have diminished.

Overall, it's probably a net loss.

In 2011, his lack of ability at the net didn't cost him matches but he was winning matches, sometimes by narrow margins, because of his BHDTL and his confidence.

In other words, he's probably lost more than he gained.

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Post by Josiah Maiestas Fri 30 Jan 2015, 3:33 pm

socal1976 wrote:I agree that Fogninni defeat still sticks in my craw.
https://i.imgur.com/aIWMm.gif OK
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Post by Guest Fri 30 Jan 2015, 3:48 pm

Ah yes Djokovic.

I don't know what it is people wish to expect from him or what to make of him. Living in the shadows of Federer and Nadal for so long would be enough to frustrate and de-moralise anyone. Especially when you are so close to them and just getting pipped at the finishing post. 2011 was truly amazing. It was. The unbeaten streak and he did lay waste to everyone. Look at the effort and quality of tennis it took. There was no way he was going to maintain that level. Look at Nadal. The ultimate ironman. He has only had one 3 Slam season. It's a lot tougher than it seems. Federer done it with ridiculous ease. However, 2011 was quite special though 3 Slams and 5 Masters. Doubt anyone will eclipse that.

The thing is with Djokovic, I think there is an issue with confidence. In himself. There always has been. That little insecurity. Murray has it in far worse capacity.

Djokovic hasn't got the power of a big hitter. It's rare he will hit through anyone. However, he has such an economical game. His strengths are the small number of UE's he makes in matches. His movement, which is ridiculous. Also the return. The best in the business. I do wonder his ratio of break-back games when he gets broken. I reckon it must be up there. If he had the freedom hitting of an Agassi, he would easily be in double figures on the Slam count.

Nowadays for players, it's much easier to be a wall and just hit everything back.

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Post by dummy_half Fri 30 Jan 2015, 3:57 pm

HMM

I remember posting at the time that winning is the best habit to have. A virtuous circle of increased confidence leading to more wins (especially in tight matches) and increased confidence.

I think fans have become a bit blasé about multi-slam years though, and especially the winning of 3 slams in a year as being somehow 'normal' for the #1. Before Federer's peak years you had to go back to Connors in 74, and subsequently Rafa has managed to do it once and Novak once. Otherwise, a slam a year is a pretty good retum. OK, the narrowing of the differences between surfaces and therefore homogenisation of tactics to a baseline game have made some difference, but not as much as is sometimes mooted.

I was playing round with some career slam stats earlier (motivated by finding out that today was Djoko's 25 GS semi final - I didn't realise he was even close to that number). He is proportionally more successful at getting to GS semi-finals (25 in 41) than Rafa (23 in 40) or Federer (37 in 63). However, he is much less successful at winning them (60% compared with 70% for Federer and an astonishing 87% for Rafa, and at winning finals - currently 50% compared with 65% for Fed and 70% for Rafa.

The conclusion then is that Djokovic is an outstanding player and consistently gets to the later stages of tournaments, but when compared with the very best he falls short slightly more often.

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Post by HM Murdock Fri 30 Jan 2015, 3:59 pm

legendkillarV2 wrote:The thing is with Djokovic, I think there is an issue with confidence. In himself. There always has been. That little insecurity. Murray has it in far worse capacity.  
I agree.

And their lack of confidence manifests itself in the same way: not in choking at key moments a laBerdych or Ferrer, but in a tendency to slip into passive tennis that's all about retrieving.

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Post by HM Murdock Fri 30 Jan 2015, 4:03 pm

dummy_half wrote:
I was playing round with some career slam stats earlier (motivated by finding out that today was Djoko's 25 GS semi final - I didn't realise he was even close to that number). He is proportionally more successful at getting to GS semi-finals (25 in 41) than Rafa (23 in 40) or Federer (37 in 63). However, he is much less successful at winning them (60% compared with 70% for Federer and an astonishing 87% for Rafa, and at winning finals - currently 50% compared with 65% for Fed and 70% for Rafa.
Good stats. They back up what I instinctively felt was the case.

Bear in mind with Federer though, that his figures include a number of post-peak years. At Novak's age, his % would have been much higher.


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Post by Silver Fri 30 Jan 2015, 4:13 pm

legendkillarV2 wrote:The thing is with Djokovic, I think there is an issue with confidence. In himself. There always has been. That little insecurity. Murray has it in far worse capacity.

Too true. Remember prior to the Wimbledon final last year? There was just as much talk about Novak's faltering belief as there was about Federer #18 - a bunch of us were genuinely concerned that defeat in another big slam match might terminally kill off his confidence.

I don't think I can remember a result being greeted with as much unanimous relief as that one was, even from those of us digging for Federer. Just shows how 'off' Djoko seemed at that point in time at the slams, and if he loses on Sunday then it could be argued things haven't improved much. As DH and HM have said - he tightens up and gets passive when he gets to the business end these days. The pressure of being the top dog?

He is, however, an incredible tennis player. If he retired on the spot, he'd still be one of the greats.

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Post by invisiblecoolers Fri 30 Jan 2015, 4:25 pm

HM Murdoch wrote:Well researched, IMBL, but there is a flaw.

When a player has been strong (near dominant) outside of slams for 4 years but has only won multiple slams in one year, then it is the year that he DID win multiple slams that is the anomaly!

This is why I get a lot of stick about being pessimistic about Djokovic, or "jinxing" etc etc. People think that a player who wins that much outside of slams, should naturally be winning plenty of slams.

But, because I follow Djokovic pretty closely, all the matches you discuss above are fresh in my mind. I've sat there in frustration, wondering why he isn't producing his best in these big matches.

In 2012, I spent most of the year wondering what was up with him. But when the same trends occur in 2013 and 2014, the only sensible conclusion is that this is what is normal for him and that 2011 was the exceptional year when he bottled the lightning.

So I expect him not to fully perform at slams, not because I'm a pessimist, but because I've lived it for 3 years!

He may, of course, go on to win multiple slams because he is undoubtedly a superb player.

I just think an expectation that he will do so is very speculative.

+1 excellently spotted. thumbsup

Stan was the man to beat in AO '15 and Djoko did it in 5 sets, can Murray use it to his advantage and continue the historic path?

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Post by HM Murdock Fri 30 Jan 2015, 4:30 pm

Good point, Silver.

Prior to Wimbledon, Novak had only won 1 of his previous 6 slam finals!

A loss on Sunday moves him to 2 wins in his last 8 finals. Or 1 win his last 5, if we cut it differently.

It won't inspire confidence.

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Post by bogbrush Fri 30 Jan 2015, 4:34 pm

I think he'll win on Sunday though. Stan is a proper challenge, Berdych isn't anywhere near as good.
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Post by dummy_half Fri 30 Jan 2015, 4:45 pm

bogbrush wrote:I think he'll win on Sunday though. Stan is a proper challenge, Berdych isn't anywhere near as good.

Very Happy

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Post by It Must Be Love Fri 30 Jan 2015, 4:46 pm

bogbrush wrote:I think he'll win on Sunday though. Stan is a proper challenge, Berdych isn't anywhere near as good.
You've either made a big big mistake, or you've worded this a bit weirdly.

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Post by HM Murdock Fri 30 Jan 2015, 4:46 pm

A lot will depend on Murray's mindset.

Form-for-form, Murray looks better to me.

If he gets nervous or frustrated though, that will change the dynamic.

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Post by CAS Fri 30 Jan 2015, 4:49 pm

Sometimes I watch Novak and think he actually gets bored, sounds ridiculous I know but there are matches he is running away with then he just switches off. I remember the match against Berdych in Rome, Dimitrov at last years Wimbledon stuck out in my mind. Its almost as if its too easy he falls asleep. I also feel that was the case against Nishikori in the second set of the US Open, he won it so effortlessly.

When he has a clear goal in site he is unbelievable, at the end of 2012 when he was trying for number 1 he destroyed everyone. In 2013, as soon as Rafa took over as Number 1 Djokovic exploded and won nearly everything in sight, also at the end of last year as soon as Federer threatened number 1 he held no prisoners.

I think he needs to be down before he can rise again, he likes elevating himself after a poor loss but when he's expected to win a slam he seems to lose intensity and focus.

I personally feel like he likes coming from behind and battling more than being ahead. Whether in a single match or in the rankings. He needs something to focus him.

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Post by It Must Be Love Fri 30 Jan 2015, 5:02 pm

Some interesting responses OK

I do feel though that some are kinda missing the point of what I was trying to say.

I don't think Djokovic is playing as well as he was in 2011 (as HM said I think his level is a bit worse, 'net loss', some aspects of his game have improved- but due to lack of confidence some areas have gone down). But my point was not that Djokovic should be winning 3 slams a year, that would be too much to expect. I just think what's happened with him in terms of Slams is weirdly inexplicable, for various reasons.


-Firstly I think we have to look at Djokovic's performances outside slams, compared to his performances in Slams. I gave the example of 2014, where he won 6 titles, and lost 5 matches (outside slams). That's superb, but yet in slams he won 1 title, and lost 3.
For further evidence, in the OP I pointed out his performance in WTF. Here, in the period in question, 2012-2014, he won every single match he played against all the Top 8 players.
-In 2012 and 2013, after the epic AO against Nadal, Djokovic kept losing more than 50% of matches in matches where you'd expect him to have a 50% chance of winning. In terms of probability, it is just surprising. In 2014, in both USO and AO he actually headed into the matches he lost as favourite. Have a look at my more detailed analysis of his slam performances. It can't just be me to see that.

HM Murdoch wrote:When a player has been strong (near dominant) outside of slams for 4 years but has only won multiple slams in one year, then it is the year that he DID win multiple slams that is the anomaly!
I know that, if you see in my OP I did say I am calling it an anomaly despite it being a trend. I know the word anomaly clearly does not fit here, which is exactly why I'm using it.
I just feel it's inexplicable, how can the combination of: dominating his rivals and the titles away from slams and seeing his rivals all go through periods of downturns, still end up in him winning such a low percentage of Slams.

But I think this year he will turn it around, I see him winning multiple Slams. His poor display against Wawrinka has challenged this belief of mine, but I'll stick to it for now.

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Post by socal1976 Fri 30 Jan 2015, 5:49 pm

So the argument is that Djokovic wins so many other tournaments and gets so deep in all the slams that he should do better than a mere 7 slams and three year end #1s? Ok if you guys say so.

I actually like CAS' post I think tennis is a very psychological sport, I don't want to say Djokovic gets bored but he has ups and downs in focus, concentration, and belief that maybe hamper him at times. He plays with a lot of emotion and at times it can be a good or bad thing. He is among the top players a guy who has a lot of ups and downs over the course of a match and a season. If he is confident and focused look out like his complete dominance of the indoor season.


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Post by socal1976 Fri 30 Jan 2015, 5:51 pm

HM Murdoch wrote:A lot will depend on Murray's mindset.

Form-for-form, Murray looks better to me.

If he gets nervous or frustrated though, that will change the dynamic.

If Djokovic plays at or near his best he wins. If he doesn't Andy is more than capable enough to beat him. As BB said, and I hate to agree with him. Stan is a much tougher test on this surface than Berdych. Lets remember that Stan was very much the form horse and had not lost a match all year including Davis cup. For me the Stan win is more impressive than Berdych win. So it is debatable who is playing in better form.

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Post by Jermaine2015 Fri 30 Jan 2015, 10:19 pm

Novak Djokovic's relative 'decline' in Majors(it's not really the correct term for someone winning and making major finals) is down to the 3 heartbreaking defeats to Rafael Nadal at the French Open.

2012: Djokovic was considered the would be King - especially after he outlasted Nadal in Australia. Nadal proven too good.

2013: Djokovic fought back from 2-1 sets down and had the match in his hands but then he touched the net and the rest is history.

2014: Djokovic was again tipped to dethroned Nadal. Nadal's injury post Australian Open and poor form on clay(pretty sure he only won Madrid 1000 - that too in part due to Nishikori getting hurt). But despite winning the first set in the final, Nadal outclassed Djokovic.

Djokovic is desperate for that French Open title, that's what's causing his mental blips.

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Post by socal1976 Sat 31 Jan 2015, 5:04 am

Jermaine2015 wrote:Novak Djokovic's relative 'decline' in Majors(it's not really the correct term for someone winning and making major finals) is down to the 3 heartbreaking defeats to Rafael Nadal at the French Open.

2012: Djokovic was considered the would be King - especially after he outlasted Nadal in Australia. Nadal proven too good.

2013: Djokovic fought back from 2-1 sets down and had the match in his hands but then he touched the net and the rest is history.

2014: Djokovic was again tipped to dethroned Nadal. Nadal's injury post Australian Open and poor form on clay(pretty sure he only won Madrid 1000 - that too in part due to Nishikori getting hurt). But despite winning the first set in the final, Nadal outclassed Djokovic.

Djokovic is desperate for that French Open title, that's what's causing his mental blips.

Good post Jermaine, people seem to forget that a great many of his defeats that are pointed to in slam finals and semis of a heartbreaking nature occurred against Nadal who was playing magnificient tennis 2012 and early 2013. I mean no one has ever pushed Nadal on clay like Djokovic has and he has come up just a little short in three matches against Nadal at RG. At some point you have to give credit to Nadal for just being that good on clay. If losing in close matches to the best ever clay courter at RG is evidence of Novak underperforming at slams well I think it simply isn't giving enough credit to his opponent or realistic.

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Post by Born Slippy Sat 31 Jan 2015, 6:20 am

HM Murdoch wrote:Good point, Silver.

Prior to Wimbledon, Novak had only won 1 of his previous 6 slam finals!

A loss on Sunday moves him to 2 wins in his last 8 finals. Or 1 win his last 5, if we cut it differently.

It won't inspire confidence.

He's 11-0 in non-slam finals since the start of 2013. I'm genuinely not sure why its in dispute that his record at slams isn't as good as outside!

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Post by CaledonianCraig Sat 31 Jan 2015, 6:25 am

Interesting points by the OP but I don't really see any serious anomalies. Novak is still churning out titles and slam finals at a consistent rate so that tells us he is still in a good place. Is it reasonable or realistic to expect Novak to win every slam final he makes? I say no. I think when Novak gets a great game plan going he is very strong and can look unbeatable. However, dips such as passiveness or first serve not firing or not being able to dictate the game then losses can occur - nothing unusual there as that has happened to every player - even Roger and Rafa.

Also let's remember he is losing slam finals to other much noted players in the sport - not journeymen, not slam final newbies and not rank outsiders. Novak is not so far above those players he has faced in slam finals that he can afford any dips in his game and still win.

So for me I see no anomalies.


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Post by Belovedluckyboy Sat 31 Jan 2015, 6:30 am

Novak also lost to Rafa at the USO in 2013, so it's not just the FOs lest we forget! I would say Rafa is the toughest opponent for Novak at the slams, even their AO2012 final could go either way. Fed and Murray managed to beat Novak two out of six times when they met him during 2011-2014; Rafa was 4-3 vs Novak ( and Novak's three wins were during his 2011 unbelievable run up to the AO2012). Stan pushed Novak to the limit the last four times they met at the slams but Novak won 3 out of 4 of those. So, it's still Rafa who is the main obstacle for Novak at the slams, especially at the FO and the USO. At Wimbledon, obviously both Fed and Murray are his main rivals.

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Post by Born Slippy Sat 31 Jan 2015, 6:35 am

Last dropped a set to Stan outside a slam in 2009; last 4 matches in slams have been 5 sets.

Lost to Kei at the US Open; annihilated him twice subsequently in 2014.

5-3 versus Rafa since the start of 2013 in non-slams; 0-4 in slams.

3-2 in slams versus Murray since US12; 5-0 in non-slams in that time.

11-0 in non-slam finals since start of 2013; 2-2 in slam finals.

Fair few anomalies I would say.

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Post by socal1976 Sat 31 Jan 2015, 6:39 am

I have to agree here with Beloved and CC, the guy almost never loses a slam match to anyone ranked outside the top 4. Certainly, not to anyone outside the top 10. Losing to Nadal in close slam matches, or Murray in close slam matches is not an anomaly. These are his two closest competitors and one of them is by far the greatest clay courter of all time and possibly the best player of all time. So unless he beats these guys almost every time over 5 sets it is strange.

BS being no one is arguing that his record in other tournaments is better than at slams. Slam matches against the best in the world playing at the top of their game over 5 sets are bigger hurdles. I can even acknowledge that he loses focus and belief at times sometimes in the very same match which causes him to lose some slam matches he should win. But it isn't an anomaly, it is hard to beat Nadal at RG over 5 sets, not many have done it, Federer at his peak never could manage it, in fact Federer has a worse winning percentage against Nadal in Grandslam finals then Djokovic has. Maybe that doesn't reflect a deficiency in Novak, but just reflects how good Nadal is. And the same can be said of his two slam losses to a lesser extent to Murray.

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Post by Born Slippy Sat 31 Jan 2015, 6:39 am

I should add this isn't meant as a criticism of Novak and I agree that, regardless, he has had a magnificent career. However, it seems to me a point for discussion rather than an approach of saying it doesn't exist.

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Post by socal1976 Sat 31 Jan 2015, 6:59 am

Born Slippy wrote:I should add this isn't meant as a criticism of Novak and I agree that, regardless, he has had a magnificent career. However, it seems to me a point for discussion rather than an approach of saying it doesn't exist.

Its not that doesn't exist. Its that you have to take into account the guy that he is facing. He hasn't had the pleasure of facing Philloupsis or Baghdadtis in a lot semifinals and finals of slams. The guys putting him out of these events with the rare case of Nishikori are other great players like Federer, Murray, and especially Nadal. Same thing occurred with Lendl. Lendl won 8 slam finals and lost 11. Connors and Agassi have lost 7 slam finals apiece. In periods where you have numerous great players of a certain level contesting slam finals you aren't going to go Federer 04-07 on people and just roll your way to 3 slams a season. Even when Nadal came up he stopped Federer cold from those types of doings. When you are facing Gonzalez, Baggy, or Phillipoussis routinely in later stages of slam finals as opposed to Nadal you will have a better win percentage. Is that an anomaly?

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Post by Born Slippy Sat 31 Jan 2015, 7:09 am

Oh, I totally agree with you about Fed's competition in that 04-06 period. I have little doubt Novak and probably even Andy would have cleaned up in Fed's place. However, no matter how good your opposition is, if your record is far better against them outside slams then there is an anomaly there. Fair enough, both Nadal and Murray do tend to play far better in slams but I do think Novak is also a little more vulnerable than outside the slams.

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Post by socal1976 Sat 31 Jan 2015, 7:16 am

Born Slippy wrote:Oh, I totally agree with you about Fed's competition in that 04-06 period. However, no matter how good your opposition is, if your record is far better against them outside slams then there is an anomaly there. Fair enough, both Nadal and Murray do tend to play far better in slams but I do think Novak is also a little more vulnerable than outside the slams.

Djokovic is more consistent in his level at all events. Where Murray and Nadal tend to peak at slams. I will agree with you that Djokovic has more mental up and downs and loses focus and belief sometimes over the course of a five set slam. It is just the way he is wired. Also it is a function that he is incredibly consistent and durable something that can't be said for Nadal or Murray. Therefore Novak is able to win a lot of matches at lesser events by just showing up and playing his normal game without the lapses to lower ranked players that Murray and now Nadal seem to be having. Look at the list of players that have put Novak out of slams and you won't see the anomaly.

In periods where you have more than one great player you have great players in front of you in the semis and finals and it is hard to beat them over 5 sets.

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Post by Born Slippy Sat 31 Jan 2015, 7:27 am

Well, losing to Stan and Kei last year, in tournaments where his main rivals were weak, is not something I think would have happened outside the slams. I think 2012-13 were more acceptable but one slam last year, with an injured Rafa, unfit Murray and aged Fed, was disappointing. His results outside the slams were consistent with a 3 slam year.

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Post by socal1976 Sat 31 Jan 2015, 7:31 am

Born Slippy wrote:Well, losing to Stan and Kei last year, in tournaments where his main rivals were weak, is not something I think would have happened outside the slams. I think 2012-13 were more acceptable but one slam last year, with an injured Rafa, unfit Murray and aged Fed, was disappointing. His results outside the slams were consistent with a 3 slam year.

Wawrinka beat him 9-7 in set number 5 and went on to win the tournament with a destruction job which included beating Nadal in 4 rather routine sets. If he plays Kei 9 times out of 10 Kei wouldn't turn in that type of performance. I watched that match and it was the best I have ever seen the guy play, and he isn't chopped liver either he is a top ten player. Look I get what you are saying. I just think it is more of an anomaly if he was losing regularly in slams to guys outside the top 4. He has done that 2 in like the last 5 years. He is one of three great players in this generation. If you have 3 or 4 great players to contend with like Agassi, Connors, and Lendl did you will lose more slam finals and semis. Kei and Stan were the only two times since 2011 that he has lost to a non-big 4 guy at a slam and one of them went on to win the tournament and he lost to him 9-7 in the fifth.

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Post by socal1976 Sat 31 Jan 2015, 7:33 am

I mean is Djokovic almost always getting to the quarters, semis, and finals an anomaly or a guy like Nadal losing to players like Rosol in the first two rounds, or Murray bombing out of RG early?

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Post by HM Murdock Sat 31 Jan 2015, 7:36 am

I pointed out in another thread that since 2011, Rafa has won more slams than Novak, despite missing three of them in that period.

It strikes me now that if Murray wins on Sunday, then he has won as many slams as Novak since 2011, despite missing one and having to recover from surgery in that period!

I know these stats are pre-emptive, but if he loses on Sunday, he'll be on:

2 wins in last 8 slam finals
1 win in last 4 HC slam finals
2-3 v Murray in slam finals

I think all the pressure that Wimbledon relieved will be back on again should he lose.

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Post by CaledonianCraig Sat 31 Jan 2015, 10:59 am

HM Murdoch, perhaps too much is expected of Novak?

Is it any embarrassment if Rafa has won more slams than him or that Murray could draw level in slam wins since 2011? I mean they can't exactly be called mugs can they?

If we wish to use the term anomaly (back to the original post) then doesn't every player have anomalies of some sort?

Roger's anomaly is Rafa Nadal as he has suffered at his hands in so many matches. Rafa's anomaly is suffering shock exits to the likes of Rosol, Darcis and Kyrgios in early rounds at majors. Andy's anomaly was losing his first four slam finals on the bounce and if you wish to call it that then Novak's is a run of defeats in slam finals when No.1.

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Post by Born Slippy Sat 31 Jan 2015, 11:09 am

Those aren't anomalies though as they are a consistent pattern! For example, Rafa lost to Dustin Brown at Halle and Kohli I think the year before. Those fit with his poor performances at Wimbledon.

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Post by CaledonianCraig Sat 31 Jan 2015, 11:12 am

Born Slippy wrote:Those aren't anomalies though as they are a consistent pattern! For example, Rafa lost to Dustin Brown at Halle and Kohli I think the year before. Those fit with his poor performances at Wimbledon.

Well neither are Novak's then - I mean he has lost to Murray many times before (not just in slams) and the same with Rafa.
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Post by socal1976 Sat 31 Jan 2015, 11:55 am

CaledonianCraig wrote:HM Murdoch, perhaps too much is expected of Novak?

Is it any embarrassment if Rafa has won more slams than him or that Murray could draw level in slam wins since 2011? I mean they can't exactly be called mugs can they?



Exactly, Craig outside of last year when Novak lost to Stan and Nish, and to Wawrinka the eventual champion 9-7 in the fifth, Djokovic had not lost a grandslam match to a non-big 4 player since his semi defeat to Berdych at wimbeldon in 2010. That is 4 years without losing at slam to anyone but Federer, Murray, or Nadal. You have to at some point give credit to the competition.

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