October 8, 2013 by Parveer Mann
Despite his dominant victory in Beijing this week, Novak Djokovic did lose something, his number one ranking. The fact he would lose it had become inevitable for many weeks but it does still offer the perfect opportunity to ask: Should anything change for Novak in the coming months and year and does that explain his fall from the top?
My initial reaction is no. How could a season when you make three Grand Slam finals and win one (the Australian Open) and are able to hold on to the number one ranking for 10 months be cause for any worry. The fact that Novak is now world number two seemingly has to do more with Rafael Nadal’s historic year than his own shortcomings.
A great comparison is how Nadal in 2011 was still consistently making deep runs and winning almost everything where he did not have to face Novak. And, we all know that the 2011 Djokovic season is among the pantheon of all-time greatest tennis seasons similar to Nadal’s 2013.
However, Rafa did make tweaks to his game after that year and most were evident this year in his matches with Novak and those without. He admittedly tried to be more aggressive especially on hard courts to give him an opportunity to end points quicker and negate the court coverage of a stellar returner (e.g. Djokovic).
What could Novak tweak?
This is harder to determine but I think you can only hypothesize after studying how Novak was losing this year. It is easy to recall that in most of his bigger losses (Nadal in Paris, Haas in Miami and Isner in Cincinnati); he struggled immensely to close out sets and matches. So, the changes needed could be as small as becoming more aggressive and going for bigger shots at critical points. But, it could be a more complex problem that requires a complete mental and tactical retooling and for that we will have to wait and see.
For now, the Beijing win is a positive sign for a player who must recompose and start the chase to be the best anew.
Highlights of the Tennis Weekend
As the number one ranking changed hands on the men’s side, the women’s tour enjoyed the status quo. After having already clinched the year-end number one, Serena convincingly won the last Premier Mandatory event of the year in Beijing over Jelena Jankovic. The highlight is that with the win, she was able to reach 10 titles in a year for the first time in her career (Henin was the last to do so) and moved into seventh place all-time with 56 WTA titles moving ahead of Virginia Wade and Lindsay Davenport.