Ahead of the ATP World Tour Finals, which will be played from 9 to 16 November, we come back on the season of each of the eight singles players who will take part in the Final Showdown, from number 8 to number 1.
1: Novak Djokovic
A year of happiness
Just before the start of 2014, Novak Djokovic surprised the whole tennis world by announcing that Boris Becker would work with him as his new head coach in order to give Marian Vajda, his coach of the last several years, some time to spend with his family.
Their collaboration did not have the desired start, as the Serbian fell in the quarter-finals of the Australian Open, a tournament he was aiming to win for the fourth consecutive year and, a few weeks later, he lost to Roger Federer in the Dubai semifinals. However, things improved, and a lot, for Djokovic in the next weeks, as he won the first two Masters 1000 of the season. After a semifinal loss in Monte Carlo, he was forced to withdraw from Madrid due to a wrist injury, but only came back stronger in Rome, where he won his third title of the season against Rafael Nadal. It is the same Nadal who, on his beloved Philippe Chatrier, ended Djokovic’s dream of completing his Career Grand Slam in the final a few weeks later.
Less than a month after losing in the French Open championship match, he reclaimed the head of the ATP World Tour rankings after defeating Federer in a breathtaking Wimbledon final, his second crown at SW19, mere days before tying the knot with his longtime girlfriend, Jelena Ristic, who was expecting the couple’s first child.
With so much going on in his personal life, we cannot fault Djokovic for not having his head 100% in his game in the following tournaments, which ended up being the only dry spell of his season: round-of-16 losses in both Toronto and Cincinnati. If things picked up at the U.S. Open, where he lost to an inspired Kei Nishikori in the semifinals, it is really in his beloved China that they really took a turn for the better, as the Serbian won his fifth consecutive Beijing crown, but saw his two-year winning streak on Chinese soil come to an end against the same man who had beaten him last in that country: Roger Federer, in the Shanghai semifinals (at incidentally the same stage of the same tournament of his last loss in China).
It is a new Djokovic who took the court in Paris-Bercy a few weeks later. Elated by the joy of the birth of his son Stefan, he was, simply, unplayable, as he flew to his sixth title of the season, logging in the final the 600th win of his career and becoming the first player in history to ever defend his Bercy title.
In London, Novak Djokovic will try to claim his third consecutive ATP World Tour Finals crown, and is only three wins away from clinching the reward that befits such a season as his: the year-end number one.
(Photos: Getty Images)