Djokovic’s 2011 stats; his No.1 ranking; and, Kaizen!

This article was first published on as Apeksha HA on October 13, 2011.

With Rafael Nadal’s defeat in Shanghai, Novak Djokovic is all set to end 2011 as World No.1. It will be the first time since 2003 that a player other than Roger Federer or Nadal will end the year as the No.1 player in the world (the last player to do so was Andy Roddick in ‘03). A lot of things have been said about the unbelievable achievements of the Serb and how he has been able to achieve his success this season.

Let’s take a look at Djokovic’s stats from 2011 compared to 2010.

 When looking at his game stats, one will be surprised to know how much Djokovic has elevated his game since last year. He has reduced his double faults and break points faced by a whooping 60 percent and 40 percent, respectively. Also, his return games won in 2011 have been 41 percent compared to 32 percent in 2010. For me, this summarizes the effort that has been put forth in his game to achieve the pinnacle of success this year.

There’s no doubt that some qualitative factors such as a change in his diet and Davis Cup victory attributed to his recent success. But his overall focus on the weak areas in his game have really taken him up to the next level. The principle of Kaizen (continuous improvement) fits perfectly into his game. His quest for continuously improving his game—early racket preparation, penetrating forehands, shallow spin on service returns and fitness—along with willingness to change, aided him to identify the weak links in his game and work upon it. He is what Nadal was in 2008 (solid defense) but with more aggression. His dominance throughout the year is remarkable as it has been accomplished in the presence of two greatest players in tennis history (Federer and Nadal). 

Whether he can continue his success in 2012 is a question best left for the future, but the key lesson to take away from Djokovic in 2011 remains a simplistic one: In order to succeed, you have to continuously work on yourself to remain at the top. If you don’t, you will become obsolete and someone else will come along and take away your position: Is Roddick listening?

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