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Djokovic 'record' meaningless
Dominant: Novak Djokovic missed out during the French Open, but has still been the player of 2011. Photo: REUTERS
Despite his defeat by Roger
Federer in that epic
French Open semi-final
the other day, Novak Djokovic is
undoubtedly the hottest player in
In 2011 the Serb stretched his
unbeaten run to 43 matches, and
has beaten Rafael Nadal, the
world No 1, four straight times,
including twice on clay, and won
the Australian Open.
For those reasons he should be
saluted as a champion.
He reminds me very much of
Ivan Lendl -- an eastern European
with a big serve and thumping,
rather flat, groundstrokes.
Neither was a natural volleyer,
though both strove to overcome
that weakness, and both worked
increasingly hard on their speed
Incidentally, both had clouds
over their temperament early in
their careers. Lendl was beaten by
Bjorn Borg, John McEnroe and
Jimmy Connors in some of his big
early matches and critics
suggested he lacked fight.
Djokovic retired owing to illness
or injury in some matches and had
similar accusations made about
Lendl eventually became one of
the game's legends, winner of
eight Grand Slam titles. I'm pick-
ing Djokovic will compile a similar
What I have got sick of was all
the talk of Djokovic's record
unbeaten streak for the start of a
calendar year. When Federer beat
him, Djokovic had won 41 in a row
in 2011 and, we were repeatedly
told, the record'' was held by
McEnroe, who started 1984 with
42 consecutive wins.
That record'' is meaningless. It
lacks credibility and really should
not be mentioned.
Bill Tilden, Don Budge and Roy
Emerson established longer men's
unbeaten streaks at the start of a
year. Of leading women, Dorothea
Lambert Chambers, Helen Wills
Moody, Suzanne Lenglen and
Steffi Graf did so, too.
And anyway, who cares about a
winning streak at the start of the
year? Surely winning streaks in
general are much more signifi-
It's hard to get figures for
players of earlier generations, but
as far as I can ascertain, Willis
Moody won 158 straight matches
from 1927-33, and Lenglen won
153 from 1921-27 and 116 from
Tilden won 95 in succession in
1924-25 and 50 in 1930, when he
was 37 years of age. Don Budge
went unbeaten for 92 matches in
Even among the more modern
players there have been much
longer streaks than Djokovic's.
Martina Navratilova won 74 in a
row in 1984, 58 in 1986-87 and 54
in 1983-84. Graf won 66 in suc-
cession in 1989-90 and 46 in 1988.
Margaret Court went unbeaten
for 57 matches in 1972-73 and
Chris Evert had 55 in a row in
On the men's side, Roy Emerson
won 55 in a row (in 1964),
Guillermo Vilas' best was 46
(1977), Lendl managed 44
(1981-82), and Borg 41 (1978).
Federer's best is 35 (2006-07).
In the light of all these fantastic
winning streaks the amount of
media time and ink devoted to
Djokovic's unbeaten run does
seem rather absurd.
I take nothing away from Djo-
He is one of three great players
adorning the men's game (which
is three more than the women
have at present), but let's appreci-
ate him for his wonderful play and
not for nearly breaking a manu-
factured and bogus record.
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