If anyone ever lived a year that personified the “glass half-full, glass half-empty” theme, it was the Beast of Belgrade. He won seven titles on a brilliant 74-9 record, including the first Grand Slam of the year. He finished the year with a 24-match winning streak and decimated the field at the ATP World Tour finals.
Unfortunately, Djokovic also lost two Grand Slam matches to Rafael Nadal (a semifinal in Paris and a final in New York), and turned over the No. 1 ranking to the Spanish star in the waning days of the year. (Just how a guy loses his top ranking in the midst of a 24-match win streak is a question that can only be answered by computer software.)
But the season did end on a strong ray of hope, as Djokovic re-asserted his mastery over Nadal in two matches after the U.S. Open. A lot was lost for Djokovic in a wayward 2013—but not all.
Ad-In: Those who found Djokovic’s efforts puzzling and disappointing through much of 2013 were proven right when he reacted to the resurgence of Nadal roughly like a man who sat down on a bee. He suddenly popped to life and re-discovered his A-game. Having Nadal to duel with may be just what Djokovic needs to return to his form of 2011.
Ad-Out: From the earliest of days, Djokovic has tended to wander from the script. It sometimes seems like he’s content with his global status and role as a figurehead for the entire Serbian nation. If Djokovic can’t sustain the kind of hunger that drove him in 2011 and in the fall of 2013, Nadal won’t be the only one to pose questions he can’t answer.
As we approach the new year, we'll take a closer look at what's in store for the past year's top performers. To read more of our 2014 Season Previews, click here.