The resurgence of Novak Djokovic has been nothing short of amazing. The 31-year-old Serb recently blew away Borna Coric to win his fourth Shanghai Masters crown and close the gap on world number one Rafael Nadal. His winning streak has stretched to an impressive 18 matches, and the current world number two is playing like the Djokovic of old that dominated the sport between 2010 and 2016.
His complete loss of form was a remarkable development for a man who at one stage in his career held all four grand slams at once and reached 23 out of 24 grand slam semi-finals. Djokovic was not only unbeatable, but also entirely untouchable. But this year he slipped out of the world’s top 20 following his exit to the relatively unknown Italian Marco Cecchinato, ranked 72nd in the world at the time, in the last eight at Roland Garros. Over the past year or so, it had seemed as if the 14-time grand slam champion had lost the fight, desire and steeliness that he possessed during his years of dominance. However, his comeback proves that his mental strength should never have been questioned.
In under two months, Djokovic has clinched two grand slams and become the first ever player to win all nine Masters 1000 tournaments with his success at the Cincinnati Masters in August. He looks best positioned out of the ‘big four’ to win many more slams during his final few years on court, with Nadal and Murray struggling with fitness this season and Federer edging closer towards bringing the curtain down on his illustrious career.
Even for those who are not huge fans of the Serb, it is safe to say that everyone would agree that tennis is better for having a Djokovic who is firing on all cylinders. Some players would never have come back from long spells out due to injury and a significant dip in form, but this is a man who is always striving for more, and that’s what makes him a sporting great.
Six months ago, we would never have thought that Djokovic would have a realistic chance of finishing 2018 as world number one, but he is now just 35 points behind Nadal. If he was to leapfrog the Spaniard and finish the year as the best player on the planet, it would surely be one of his finest achievements.