Friday, June 3, 2011
Djokovic's run was no joke, ends in semis
Novak Djokovic fought hard but lost a four-set thriller to Roger Federer, ending his run of 43 straight victories and suffering his first defeat of the 2011 season.
Despite the loss in the semifinals, Djokovic completed a run that is unmatched among active players.
His 43-match win streak finished as the third longest streak by a men's player in singles competition in the Open Era (since 1968). Only Guillermo Vilas with 46 straight victories in 1977 and Ivan Lendl with 44 from 1981-82 had longer streaks.
His 41 wins to start 2011 were one shy of matching John McEnroe in 1984 for the best start to a season by a men's player in the Open Era. Djokovic, McEnroe and Steffi Graf, who started 45-0 in 1987, are the only players -- men or women -- during that span to start a season with 40 straight wins.
Djokovic won seven singles titles in 2011, including the Australian Open, his second career Grand Slam title. So how did Federer finally put an end to his historic run?
Federer excelled with his serve, compiling 18 aces -- including the match winner -- compared to just seven for Djokovic. According to video tracking, he won 77 percent of his points on his first serve as opposed to Djokovic who did so at a 60 percent clip.
Federer was not only the man to end Djokovic's streak, but was also the last player to defeat Djokovic before the streak began, back in the semifinals of the 2010 Barclays ATP World Finals. Between those two defeats Djokovic lost 10 sets combined in 41 matches.
While one streak ended another was continued as Federer made it nine straight seasons in which he has advanced to a Grand Slam final. That is the third-longest streak in the Open Era. Only Pete Sampras and Ivan lendl, who each did so in 11 straight seasons, had longer streaks.
2011 French Open Men's Final Preview
Looking ahead to Sunday's matchup between Federer and Rafael Nadal, it will mark their fourth meeting in the final at Roland Garros. Each of the previous three have been won by Nadal, who is 44-1 all-time in French Open play.
Nadal is 16-8 all-time against Federer. No other player has won more matches against Roger Federer in his career.
For Federer, this is his 23rd career Grand Slam final, extending his record for most Grand Slam finals reached all-time. He is 2-5 in Grand Slam finals against Nadal and 14-1 against all others.
Despite having beaten him on Friday, Federer will have Djokovic in his corner on Sunday. If Federer defeats Nadal, Djokovic will take over as world's No. 1 for the first time in his career.