Novak Djokovic has claimed the ATP year-end No. 1 ranking by winning his third match in the round robin stage of the ATP World Tour Finals 2014. If Djokovic had lost his final round robin match, Roger Federer would still have had a chance at finishing the year No. 1. But the Serbian did not waste any time in ending Federer’s chances as he beat Tomas Berdych, the sixth seed, 6-2, 6-2 in 69 minutes to clinch the No.1 top spot.
Djokovic, who had dropped only five games in his previous two round robin matches against Marin Cilic and Stan Wawrinka, clinched the year-end No.1 ranking playing like the best player in the world. He hit 18 winners to 10 errors, and struck down 4 aces. Though his first serve percentage was only 59 percent, he won 83 percent of points behind his first delivery, and he won 75 percent of his second service points.
The best returner in the game delivered in that area of his game, too. Djokovic earned six break points and converted four of them. Berdych contributed to his own downfall in that department somewhat with a first serve percentage of 42. Though the Czech won 73 percent of points behind his first delivery, he could only manage to win nine of 28 points (32 percent) behind his second serve. Djokovic, who led Berdych 16-2 in their head to head going into the match and who had thrashed Berdych for the loss of two games in September’s Beijing Open final, had too good of a return and was able to dictate and dominate rallies in both his and Berdych’s service games, winning 36 of the match’s 55 baseline points. Berdych could only hit 8 winners in the match and made 19 unforced errors as he struggled to deal with a Djokovic playing on his favorite surface on a 29 indoor winning streak spanning three seasons.
Djokovic, who was knocked off the No. 1 spot by Rafael Nadal on Oct. 7 2013, reclaimed the top spot on July 7th this year after winning Wimbledon. Djokovic, who defeated Federer in the Wimbledon final, won his first slam since the Australian Open 2013 with that victory, and it was his first win after finishing runner-up in five of his last six slam finals.
Djokovic won titles in Indian Wells, Miami, Rome, Wimbledon, Beijing and Paris in 2014, and now has a chance to win his third consecutive and fourth title overall at the ATP Finals. The Serb will face Kei Nishikori, the fifth seed, in tomorrow’s first semi-final match.
The Serb is scheduled to face his rival for the ATP top spot, Roger Federer in the final on Sunday. Djokovic had to work hard to fight off Federer from the top spot in 2014. After losing early in the U.S Open Series events and suffering a defeat in the U.S Open semi-finals to Nishikori, Djokovic’s No. 1 ranking was under threat from a resurgent Federer, but the Serb entered his favorite stretch of the season, the autumn outdoor and indoor hard court swing, and was able to put together an impressive run in order to finish the season as the ATP’s top ranked player.
Djokovic has now finished the season as world No. 1 three times (2011, 2012, 2014). Though he clinched the year-end ranking in convincing fashion this week, he will have a tough task to hold on to it next season if Federer maintains his form and tennis fans can look forward to an exciting Australian circuit at the start of the 2015 season as the No.1 spot will once more be fiercely contested for.
Commentary by Christian Deverille
Photo courtesy of Kate-License