Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Djokovic on the Cusp of History

MELBOURNE, Australia -- Novak Djokovic is a 10-time grand slam champion and been the best player in tennis over the last five years, but is often neglected in the conversation of tennis' greatest players ever. However, the Serb could reach a significant milestone with a run to the final in Melbourne.

Because of the loss by Rafael Nadal last Tuesday, Djokovic now is just one win away from becoming the second most successful player at grand slam tournaments in the Open Era.

That word successful refers to the total number of ranking points earned at the sport's four biggest event, based on the current ranking system.

In other words, every title is worth 2000 points, every runner-up finish is worth 1200 points and so on. In the Open Era, Roger Federer has been by far the best player by this metric racking up 59,515 points in his career. However, there is a very tight battle for the second slot.

Here are the standings (prior to Djokovic's quarterfinal match)
1. Roger Federer - 59,515
2. Rafael Nadal - 40,845
3. Novak Djokovic - 40,510
4. Jimmy Connors - 40,480
5. Pete Sampras - 40,385
6. Ivan Lendl - 39, 890
7. Andre Agassi - 37,675

With his win over Andreas Seppi, Djokovic surpassed Lendl for fifth place. Following the win against Kei Nishikori, he surpassed both Connors and Sampras on the list. Now if Djokovic beats Federer, he will become the second most successful player in grand slam history in the Open Era behind only his semifinal opponent.

One other stat that is worth mentioning is that of the top seven Nadal and Djokovic have played the lowest number of grand slam tournaments. Nadal's 44th grand slam appearance just came to an end, while Djokovic is still playing his 45th. Everyone else on the list has at least 56 grand slam main draw appearances with Federer leading the way at 67.

In terms of ranking points earned per grand slam entered, Bjorn Borg is the leader followed by Nadal and then Djokovic, while Federer takes fourth place on that list. Federer has earned 10,000 ranking points at each of the four majors, while Djokovic has done so at three of them. Nadal has only reached that mark at Roland Garros.

Djokovic has been dominating the sport for the last five years and has taken that dominance up a notch in the last 16 months since his loss to Nishikori at the 2014 US Open. If Djokovic maintains this level for much longer, he could start taking chasing some of Federer's marks.

That's still a long way away, but what is for certain is that every time Djokovic steps on the court this fortnight, he is playing for history.

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