May 13th, 2011
08:34 PM ET

Djokovic's dream year shows no sign of slowing

Novak Djokovic is on an incredible run in 2011 with 32 straight wins to his name.
Novak Djokovic is on an incredible run in 2011 with 32 straight wins to his name.

When Pete Sampras won major title number 14, I thought nobody would ever break the record. Then along came Roger Federer.

When I thought the Swiss maestro was the undisputed greatest of all time, along came Rafael Nadal.

When I thought the Federer/Nadal rivalry would be the best of a generation, along came Novak Djokovic.
It seems men's tennis is just getting better and more interesting with every passing year!

Since the death of Seve Ballesteros on Saturday morning, the word 'inspiring' has been used frequently in the sports world. He was a golfer who managed to capture the imagination of anyone who watched. Perhaps it was his good looks, perhaps it was his prodigious talent, perhaps it was his imagination. Seve hit shots no one else would attempt.

Seve had something special and Djokovic has it too. The Serb is focused, yet entertaining; brilliant, yet normal. Although he clearly isn't, he comes across as if he's just like the rest of us.

And he has personality in spades. Remember those hilarious impressions he did of his fellow tennis stars? Yes, he earned some flak from fellow players, but the fans loved it and Djokovic knew when enough was enough.

He's since done an incredible advert on a biplane and organized the football 'match for Japan' all while going on a sensational tennis run which has seen him win six titles and edge closer to the world number one ranking.

Novak's straight sets victory over Rafa Nadal at the aptly named 'Magic Box' in Madrid was particularly impressive, as it ended the Spaniard's 37 straight wins on clay and extended his own streak to 32 victories in 2011. If you're wondering, only John McEnroe has started a season better. He won 42 consecutive matches at the beginning of 1984.

Now the Serb knows that If he wins the Rome Masters and Rafa fails to reach the semi-final then the top spot will be his – and he will begin the French Open as world number one.

Modest Rafa, winner of last year's French Open, Wimbledon and US Open titles, and with all those points to defend, is already consigned to the fact that Djokovic will pass him by, saying: "The number one ranking is not in danger, the number one has already gone."

Novak has come an awful long way. At one point not too long ago, titles were contested between Rafa and Roger and Novak was in the second tier along with Andy Murray.

But now, thanks to a new gluten-free diet, an incredible fitness level, and sky-high confidence, he has made himself the one to beat and so far, this year, no one has been able to do it.

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Filed under:  Tennis
soundoff (46 Responses)
  1. sri

    Fed is still the greatest until some one passes the magic no of 16 GS.

    May 13, 2011 at 8:52 pm | Reply
  2. Jelena Mandic

    I do not longer pray to God for Novak to win a game, but to get it painlessly.

    May 13, 2011 at 10:11 pm | Reply
  3. Mary

    I hope soemone beats him soon. His arrogance is unbearable

    May 14, 2011 at 3:55 am | Reply
    • Fan of Nole

      Whose arrogance? Novak's? You are wayyy out of your way. He' the nicest young man there is , loved by friends,oponents and the people of Serbia. He' just been awarded the highest award given by the Serban Orthodox chuch for his donations and work!
      How dare you?!

      May 15, 2011 at 11:08 pm | Reply
  4. Don Heath

    A Serbian superman. Up, up and away!

    May 14, 2011 at 5:19 am | Reply
  5. Sachiko

    Djokovic is a rare type of top player. Most of them save energy off court to concentrate it as much as they can on court, but "Djoker" has full force also off court, I guess that comes from his cheerful character. As he says on CNN interview he fully enjoys his life on and off day, that brings interactive effect. What an endearing player. I like his attitude toward life, very nice to see his struggle after switching racket deal pays off today.

    May 14, 2011 at 1:39 pm | Reply
  6. Bebe Goldstein aka Jism

    Federer's still the king, he's got style, he's got grace.

    May 15, 2011 at 4:47 am | Reply
  7. Dani

    Novak has a fantastic personality and is a great tennis player, talking about 16 GS or any other records is sooo not important. I prefer him just the way he is than to watch any other "record breaker" ...

    May 15, 2011 at 11:42 am | Reply
  8. international

    tennis ok, but it's ice hockey today. It would be great if CNN would show interest towards the toughest final ever: Finland-Sweden in Bratislava!
    Mikael Granlund!

    May 15, 2011 at 2:55 pm | Reply
  9. HHH

    Novak will never garner the affection that Nadal and Federer have achieved throughout this sport. Though Novak has improved greatly over the past two years, unfortunately, he lacks charm and humility. He can be obnoxious and he needs to rise of above the thuggery display of his Serbian fans to demonstrate intergrity and class. Rafa and Roger will always be the draw for tennis fans. Any final without them is a bit of let down and either one vs Novak will always be the FAN favorite

    May 15, 2011 at 6:08 pm | Reply
  10. duda

    What this men should to to be recognized as the good player. Many people comment his game with a lot of negative aspect but he had to play like no one on tour to have that. Have a great life and continue with great play. Best of luck to You, You really are the greatest at the moment and live that moment.

    May 15, 2011 at 9:07 pm | Reply
  11. Nesko

    @HHH
    I hope you've seen this evenings final in Rome to realize who's the FAN favorite.
    Also if you've seen final in Madrid could you see what unsportsmanlike fans really look like (in contrary to Rome where fans preferred Djokovic but respected the opponents).

    May 15, 2011 at 9:20 pm | Reply
  12. Darko

    Coment for HHH, is ha ha ha!
    Maybe you are FAN of Rafa and Roger and now our Joker has more FANS then two FORMER champions.
    Go Nole, iDEMOOOOOOOOOO

    May 15, 2011 at 10:10 pm | Reply
  13. QlenNBG

    Believe it or not Novak is playing best tennis right now he is unbeatable!!!
    The best thing is that the guy from Serbia is best tennis player in the world :)

    May 15, 2011 at 10:12 pm | Reply
  14. Dusan

    To all you haters,I can say only one thing:Tennis world will kneel before Novak!He is the new king!And you can just continue hating him,but this is reality,this is now,the times of Federer and Nadal have past!New age has come!

    May 15, 2011 at 10:34 pm | Reply
  15. Fan of Nole

    @ Mary: I feel sorry for you.
    Nole is respected and loved by fans, his countrymen an oponents.
    He's received the highest honor from the Sreban Orthodox church for hos work and donations .
    He' s organised a match to help Japanese people and wore a knee support every match to remind pepole to donate.
    No one has ever seen or heard him be or say something arrogant.

    Shame on you Mary, you must be a very sad, friendless person wishing others harm.

    May God have mercy on you!

    May 15, 2011 at 11:15 pm | Reply
  16. Fair Minded

    HHH

    your ignorance and underlying prejudice run deep it seems,

    Lack of charm and humility?

    This shows you at best have only a passing knowledge and observance of tennis, have you heard the many gracious speachs he has made after DEFEAT? let alone those after victory.

    You seem to weave Novak into a generalization about Serbian fans and move this to him not having integrity and class. Novak is not responsible for the actions of a few and if you look at his comments he has never encouraged aggressive or abusive behaviour. He has rightly asked organisers to do their job. Novak has played in numerous countries in the world speaks four languages and you refer to incidents in one country. You label his supporters thugs and elude to an entire people, they are not, they are passionate.

    No class?

    Interesting, please do a search on how much charity work the man does. He his a devoted Christain and family man. He is often humble and indeed has reached out to Croatian players on the circiut from my understanding and love Rome the home of the Catholic faith! He has brought the issue of world heritage listed chruchs being detroyed.

    Is Novak Perfect?

    No

    but you seem to show your colours and serbophobia seems to run deep.

    May 16, 2011 at 10:13 am | Reply
  17. Milan

    So... Changes in tennis undergoing. I welcome it. Hope this will make some other brilliant young players with attitude to emerge.
    HHH, I don't see why there must be rule for players to be Rogers, or Rafas clones in terms of behavior. Player needs to behave accordingly to its own personality. If not, if try to be like someone else, it would be unnecessary energy loss. Than, how could we expect the maximum, from players, and from sport. This is sport, not stuffy diner in House Of Lords. No need for charm, or humility, or class. Passion will do, at least for me.
    I would like to remind you that tennis is about ball returning, and trying to make your shots unturned.
    Although I'm Serb, and I cheer Novak, I like players showing passion (i.e. Murray, Sodering etc.). We all can like this or that, but results count. It is highly unlikely Novak will ever come near, Rogers results or those underlining some other great names, but we all need to be real and thank him, and other players not letting tennis to be a two man sport. More to it, I think it is impossible for Novak to make record achievements nearly matching even those Nadal achieved, with Rafa, and Roger, and Murray being around. Forgive me for being subjective in my next line, but when Roger made his records it was definitely one man sport (if you don't count Andy Roddick and Llayton Hewitt as serious opponents).
    One time Roger showed unprecedented passion was after losing AO from Rafael.
    Greatest of all times for me are Becker, Sampras, Agassi and Nadal. I haven't seen those preceded them (born too late).
    Go Novak, go Rafa, go Roger, go Andy, go Robin... go tennis, go, go, go!

    May 16, 2011 at 10:57 am | Reply
  18. serbian fan

    que sera sera but nole will be no.1,que sera sera...Thank you for existing, Novak, that you're so great man and that you are such a champion of the greatest of the great, unstoppable and unbeatable. Thanx God that this country has such a kind of champions the world has now met and we knew it for years ago,to have some people like you to represent your country...roger is past,rafa is past too bat you NOVAK DJOKOVIC is the future of tennis.

    THE NEW KONG IS BORN!!!!!!!!

    NOLE CARE!!!!

    May 16, 2011 at 11:12 am | Reply
  19. vava

    Serbs are a sports nation. In a healthy mind, healthy body.Novak, go ahead! This is fair play.

    May 16, 2011 at 12:01 pm | Reply
  20. Aleksandra

    Novak is a great young man with so many qualities... Yes, people are jealous, and, of course, with prejudice about Serbs. Well, believe or not, but Novak is a true representative of Serbs, and if you knew that than you would make different movies in Hollywood about Serbs...

    May 16, 2011 at 12:07 pm | Reply
  21. hihey

    Go, Nole!

    May 17, 2011 at 7:10 am | Reply
  22. nik

    Nole. Serbian Superman. Fly or die.
    IDEMOOOOOO

    May 17, 2011 at 9:40 am | Reply
  23. Dr. Cajetan Coelho

    Young Novak Djokovic is doing fine. Wishing the rising star further success.

    May 17, 2011 at 10:20 am | Reply
  24. Ljuba

    I do not like many thinks on the World some states, players but respect
    who is stronger, better of this moment.
    The guy from Serbia is best tennis player NOW all bad comments
    about him honestly is because he is Serbs.
    If anybody visit our country will be find out that most of us has same
    behavior as Nole open soul smile on face and good fun.

    best regards everyone from Serb

    May 17, 2011 at 11:18 pm | Reply
  25. HHH

    Breast beating and the "THOR" like yelling, just won't do. Showing passion is great, but his behavior is obnoxious and at least for me, lessens my enjoyment for him having won a match and he has played brilliantly over this year and with the French Open coming up, this will be a fantastic tournament on the men's side. That being said, I am also NOT of fan of when Murray does it (remember the bicep gesture at the end of matches, Venus (jumping up and down) in 05 at her Wimbledon win, or even Federer crying fest when he lost the AO to Nadal. It just seemed over the top. Pumping oneself up in the heat of battle is one thing, but Novak's borders on too much arrogance, lest we forget how he has behaved in the past. Sure, he is funny at times, and in his quest to be number 1 he has gone on the charm offensive with the media, but decorum is always needed in sport.

    May 18, 2011 at 3:53 am | Reply
  26. Doboj (Republika Srpska)

    For HHH

    I have enjoyed your comment, it shows how much you haters suffer right now. GOO NOLE, MAKE THEM SUFFER EVEN MORE.

    May 18, 2011 at 12:27 pm | Reply
  27. R4L

    Big Serbia or Bust

    May 18, 2011 at 11:34 pm | Reply
  28. Bobby

    HHH : this dude needs psychiatric care

    May 19, 2011 at 9:22 am | Reply
  29. Teslic ( RS )

    To HHH,

    keep on dreaming. This is the era of Djokovic, wether you like it or not. He is more charming than RF and Rafa, he is multilingual, intelligent, funny and what is very important he is proud for being Serb...

    Go Nole, this is your time...

    May 19, 2011 at 10:09 am | Reply
  30. Pops

    BOBBY

    Any recommendations?

    May 19, 2011 at 5:56 pm | Reply
  31. Doodle

    Well there are certainly a lot of thoughts floating around, one more point: never smile at a crocodile.

    May 20, 2011 at 4:21 am | Reply
  32. Nenad

    SERBINATOR!!!! NOLE CARE!!!

    May 20, 2011 at 11:40 pm | Reply
  33. Fair Minded

    "Breast beating and the "THOR" like yelling, just won't do. Showing passion is great, but his behavior is obnoxious and at least for me, lessens my enjoyment for him having won a match.. lest we forget how he has behaved in the past....and in his quest to be number 1 he has gone on the charm offensive with the media.."

    The only thing in the above quote that is correct is "..at least for me."

    Your ignorance and obvious lack of research smacks of prejudice. Let me jus t say that even if we accept your "observations", If vanilla was the only flavour ice cream in the world what a boring and sad place it would be. Djokovic has constitently been gracious in defeat and if you dont like his victory dance well you have a remote control.

    May 21, 2011 at 4:49 am | Reply
  34. HHH

    We will see how good Novi is if he can survive 5 sets on clay against Nadal, should they both make it to the final.

    May 21, 2011 at 3:21 pm | Reply
  35. Lord B.B

    I luv his confidence, he is an incredible player, my favourite, calm, simple, gentle, smart, humble, entertaining and without pride. I pray he extends his streak to 50.

    May 22, 2011 at 11:42 am | Reply
  36. alehandro

    Djokovic is in the zone right now, but he's got to sustain it year in year out to be considered great. CNN has a love affair with him at the moment because he's granted the network a couple of interviews and appeared pretty genial off court, so no surprise if CNN wants to keep him sweet with an upbeat article. Objectively speaking, he's a polarizing figure. While many love his overt displays of passion on the court some find them jarring and unsportmanlike. He may be kind to children and animals but that's not what most of the public sees. The majority are only privy to his on court persona, and in that respect his performance at the moment lacks the grace of either Federer or Nadal even though his tennis is producing results.

    May 23, 2011 at 7:41 pm | Reply
  37. tseko polesticco

    yup, definitely he's gonna become number tennis world player sooner. But I can never be a fan because there were two instances in a grand-slam tournament ( i just cannot exactly recall which tournament) where he quit. Roger Federer is still number for me because aside from his great tennis skills, he always maintained a gentleman deportment both inside and outside the tennis courts. The blemish in Novak's tennis greatness is that he was once a quitter.

    May 25, 2011 at 7:41 am | Reply
  38. Milan

    His argonace? Could you please tell me when exactly djokovic was arogant? Cause seriously i cannot see it.
    He is having the moment of his career and he seems to be at the edge of breaking yet another record which is fantastic for tennis.
    Why are people (like you) always so spiteful and negative, wishing someone to fail? I just simply don't get it.
    I am very thankful that i live in period of such great players that include: Federer, Nadal, Djokovic and Murray. You guys are amazing!

    May 26, 2011 at 4:20 pm | Reply
  39. Pops

    "Your ignorance and obvious lack of research smacks of prejudice. Let me jus t say that even if we accept your "observations", If vanilla was the only flavour ice cream in the world what a boring and sad place it would be. Djokovic has constitently been gracious in defeat and if you dont like his victory dance well you have a remote control"

    What are you talking about? The statement is ill advised does not offer any substance.

    May 26, 2011 at 8:27 pm | Reply
  40. HHH

    Well I certainly touched a nerve. I stand by my statements. And let me preface that I did not say I disliked Novak, just some of his antics. As I my other examples stated, it was not isolated to just Novak. If anyone of you are real tennis watchers and not just jumping on the band wagon this year, you will know exactly what I am saying.

    May 26, 2011 at 8:32 pm | Reply
  41. HHH

    Now what do you all have to say. Rafa and Roger ForEver!!!!!!!!!!!

    June 3, 2011 at 8:40 pm | Reply
  42. Miranda

    Djokovic will be no1 5 years.
    Go Jocker :)

    Miranda from Australia

    July 7, 2011 at 3:38 pm | Reply
  43. Toby

    At last, the monotony of Federer,Nadal has been broken in men's tennis. Thanks to Djokovic.

    July 25, 2011 at 2:48 pm | Reply
  44. garba Ibrahim kukuri

    Novak Djokovicthe star of the moment

    October 18, 2011 at 2:35 am | Reply
  45. garba Ibrahim kukuri

    Novak Djokovic the star of the moment

    October 18, 2011 at 2:36 am | Reply

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