Novak Djokovic’s Rivalries and Legacy

December 29, 2021

Djokovic has a winning head-to-head record against some of his biggest rivals. In his early playing days, Djokovic suffered humiliation at the hands of Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. However, from 2011 onwards, the Serbian has dramatically changed the dynamics and now holds the upper hand against two of the greatest players in the game.

There has never been an era in which three of the greatest-of-all-time candidates battled it out on court at the same time, but the fact that he has won so many titles playing in the same era and is sharing the record haul of 20 Grand Slam titles is a testament to Djokovic’s sheer grit and determination to be the best in the world.

Before 2011, Djokovic had a 10-22 head-to-head record against Federer, while an even worse 7-16 records against the mighty Spaniard, Nadal. Since 2011, after completely changing his style of play and adding that mental game that he lacked previously, Djokovic has gone on to establish a 22-10 record against Federer and a 22-12 record against Nadal. Amazingly, Djokovic beat Nadal in seven consecutive finals from the 2011 Indian Wells Open to 2012 Australian Open and again repeated the streak in 2015.

After their gruelling 5 hours 53 minutes final in the 2012 Australian Open, where Djokovic defeated Nadal in a true war of attrition. Nadal was heard in an interview saying, “Novak Djokovic is my problem, not my game, not the previous year.” While Djokovic too acknowledged their rivalry after losing the 2019 Roland Garros final to Nadal – “For me, he is my greatest rival of all time.”

With age and fitness still on his side and the likes of Federer now 40 and Nadal entering the twilight of his career, Djokovic still has a few years left in him to dominate the tennis world and make an outright bid to be the greatest of all time.

Rahul Saha

An engineer taking the road less taken. I love writing, live and breathe football, and am always up for a tactical conversation.

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