Novak Djokovic - how he became the master of the ATP Tour Masters 1000

Novak Djokovic is the first and so far only male player in tennis history to win all nine events of the ATP Tour Masters 1000.

Novak Djokovic in action. (Twitter/@ATPtour)

That Novak Djokovic is a standout player in the world of tennis is in itself amazing. That he could end his career with more Grand Slam wins than Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal – two of the greats of all time – is even more amazing. In recent years, as age and injuries have slowed down both Federer and Nadal, Djokovic has remained relentless. It helps, of course, that the Serbian is slightly younger than the two stalwarts who dominated the sport in the early to mid-2000s. However, youth is no guarantee of success – otherwise, the sport would be dominated only by youngsters.

An oft-overlooked aspect of Djokovic’s greatness, however, is his domination in the ATP Masters events. He has won the same number of events as Nadal (36) and 8 more than Federer.

To top things off, he is also the only male player to win all nine ATP 1000 events. But how exactly did he do it? As it is has been three years since he completed the feat, let us analyse the road he took to become the master of the ATP Tour Masters 1000.

Every title but one

The first few years of the professional career of Novak Djokovic did not bring much in the way of success. Yet success would finally begin to come his way in 2006 when he won the Dutch Open.

Although not a ATP 1000 event, it naturally shone the spotlight on the young Serb. In early 2007, he made the final of the Indian Wells Masters. It was his first appearance in a Masters event but it ended in a straight sets loss to Nadal.

He wouldn’t have to wait too long for his maiden title though. He made the finals of the Miami Open that same year and beat Guillermo Canas in the final. Canas, it must be noted, eliminated defending champion Federer in the fourth round.

He won the 2007 Canadian Open as well, this time beating Federer in the final. Yet he would encounter what would become his Everest – the Cincinnati Masters final – in 2008.

Prior to that, he won the 2008 Indian Wells and Italian Open too – meaning he had already won four of the nine events. Yet he lost the final at Cincinnati in straight sets to Andy Murray.

He would lose at the final in Cincinnati again in 2009, 2011 and 2012. By that point, he had also won the Paris Masters and Madrid Open too, making it 6 out of nine possible titles. This is besides winning other events on multiple occasions.

Yet the 2012 final loss at Cincinnati unleashed the beast in him. He went on a 12-match winning streak in ATP Masters finals. This included first-time wins at Shanghai and Monte Carlo, meaning he had bagged 8 out of nine possible titles.

The Cincinnati curse lifts

This feat notably placed him above both Federer and Nadal, both of whom have won 7 out of nine till date. Yet he was hungry for more.

He continued to rack up the titles but a win at Cincinnati eluded him. He made the finals in 2015 but was again unable to win, as Federer beat him in 3 sets.

How fitting then, that the man he finally beat at Cincinnati was Federer.

The win came on August 19, 2018. Federer had a slightly easier route to the final than Djokovic. The Swiss maestro played less three-setters and his semi-final match ended prematurely after opponent David Goffin retired due to injury.

Djokovic, by contrast, played only three-setters before the final with the one exception being his first-round match. Yet it hardly mattered, as Djokovic won in straight sets to make history.

Novak Djokovic – his notable ATP tour numbers

Djokovic would go on to win the event again in 2020, meaning he had now won every single event of the ATP Masters twice.

He is the record holder for most ATP Masters event wins on hard courts with 26. He also holds the record for most title wins in a season (6) and most final appearances in a season (8) – both came in 2015.

His run of 12 wins in finals of the ATP Masters is also a record. Besides that, he has been in a stunning 53 finals in ATP Masters events – winning, of course, 36 of them.

Besides that, he’s also made the finals of the ATP Finals on seven occasions, winning the title five times. He’s taken part in 17 ATP Tour 500 events, winning 14 of them.

He’s also been in the finals of 14 ATP Tour 250 events, winning 10 of those. This is, of course, besides winning 20 Grand Slams an an Olympic bronze medal in 2008.

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