Our What's Next? series looks at every player who finished in the ATP or WTA Top 10 this season, and considers their future in three different ways.
“Strange” might be the best way to describe the year that ended with Djokovic successfully defending his No. 1 ranking. He declared early on that his main objectives for the season were not to defend all the titles he won in his exceptional 2011 campaign, but to win Roland Garros and earn medals—preferably gold—at the Olympic Games.
Djokovic failed to accomplish either objective, losing a ragged, rain-plagued French Open final to his main rival, Rafael Nadal. His Olympic performance was even more disappointing. Knocked out in the semifinals by Andy Murray, he also lost the bronze-medal match to Juan Martin del Potro, and crashed out in the first round of the doubles event with Viktor Troicki.
Still, Djokovic plugged away with admirable determination and actually won five more matches than he did in his magical, prior season (75-12 to 70-6). He earned a Grand Slam title (Australian Open), equaling the production of all three of his rivals in 2012, but he was the only one among them to make three major finals. He finished as the No. 1 player, and the ranking doesn’t lie.
Best Case Scenario: It’s easy to underestimate the pressure Djokovic must have felt in 2012, having to defend so many victories, titles, and points (including three Grand Slams and a mind-boggling 43-match winning streak). Having done a good job on that front, he can go into 2013 feeling like it’s truly a new period in his career. (So watch out.)
Worst Case Scenario: It’s hard to describe Djokovic as backsliding in any significant way, but he did have a losing record against his fellow Big Four players in semis and finals in 2012 (7-8) and struggled mightily to subdue Nadal in Melbourne, the site of his only successful Grand Slam final. Should Djokovic fail to win a Grand Slam title in 2013, he will undoubtedly consider the year a “major” disappointment.
Australian Open Outlook: Djokovic is 32-5 for his career in Melbourne, and he’s won the title three times in the last five years on a surface that’s ideal for his aggressive baseline game. But he needs to pay attention and show up ready to go from the outset, and that’s always a challenge for a player coming off back-to-back years at No. 1.
More What's Next?
- ATP No. 10, Richard Gasquet
- WTA No. 10, Caroline Wozniacki
- ATP No. 9, Janko Tipsarevic
- WTA No. 9, Sam Stosur
- ATP No. 8, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
- WTA No. 8, Petra Kvitova
- ATP No. 7, Juan Martin del Potro
- WTA No. 7, Li Na
- ATP No. 6, Tomas Berdych
- WTA No. 6, Sara Errani
- ATP No. 5, David Ferrer
- WTA No. 5, Angelique Kerber
- ATP No. 4, Rafael Nadal
- WTA No. 4, Agnieszka Radwanska
- ATP No. 3, Andy Murray
- WTA No. 3, Serena Williams
- ATP No. 2, Roger Federer
- WTA No. 2, Maria Sharapova
- ATP No. 1, Novak Djokovic