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Top four players to win first 12 matches of ATP season

Published at :February 25, 2024 at 5:05 PM
Modified at :April 1, 2024 at 9:27 PM
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(Courtesy : AFP)

Mohammed Fazeel

Jannik Sinner is the only player apart from “Big Three” to make coveted list

The start of a new tennis season is a chance for players to reset their clocks and begin with a blank slate. The highs and lows of the previous season are left behind as a fresh one commences. Naturally, every player wants to get off to a good start and avoid losing for as long as possible. But, winning means someone else has to lose and going undefeated for at least a month into the season is a rare feat.

Only four players on the ATP tour have managed to win 12 consecutive matches in the new season. As the 2024 season progresses, we take a look at the profiles of these four players and highlight their recent achievements and upcoming challenges.

Novak Djokovic (2016, 2020, 2023)

Novak Djokovic’s numbers speak for themselves, as words often fall short of capturing his greatness. Among the “Big Three,” the Serbian is the clear leader. The World No. 1 has 24 Grand Slam titles and was destined for his 11th Australian Open until he met Jannik Sinner in the semifinals.

His 24th Grand Slam came at the 2023 US Open, where he beat Daniil Medvedev in straight sets. He was also close to matching Rod Laver’s feat of winning a calendar slam, but fell to Carlos Alcaraz in a thrilling five-set Wimbledon final.

The Serbian’s trophy cabinet also includes a record 40 Masters titles, seven Nitto ATP Finals titles and eight years as the year-end No. 1 on the Pepperstone ATP Rankings. Novak Djokovic is spending his 413th week as World No. 1 in the ATP Rankings on Monday. After Alcaraz’s loss in Buenos Aires, the Serbian is likely to stay at the top until at least Indian Wells.

Djokovic will end his brief hiatus from the tour by returning to the BNP Paribas Open in March for the first time in five years.

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Roger Federer (2018)

Roger Federer enchanted countless fans with his sublime touch and elegant backhand throughout his 24-year career. The Swiss maestro has 103 titles to his name, including 20 Grand Slams and 28 Masters. Another record that belongs to the Swiss legend is his eight Wimbledon titles, five of which he won consecutively between 2003 and 2007.

While Djokovic may have overtaken many of Federer’s records, one that the retired player still holds and may never lose is the 237 consecutive weeks he spent at No. 1.

Federer’s reign at the top of the ATP Rankings lasted from February 2, 2004 to August 17, 2008. This is the longest streak ever since the ATP Rankings were introduced in 1973. Djokovic’s longest streak as World No. 1 is 122 weeks, from July 7, 2014 to November 6, 2016.

Rafael Nadal (2022)

Rafael Nadal has 22 Grand Slam titles to his credit, 14 of which he won on the clay courts of Roland Garros, earning him the nickname “King of Clay.” The Spaniard has an impeccable record in finals at the French Open, never losing one. Since 2005, when he made his first of 18 appearances in Paris, he has only exited twice before reaching the quarterfinals. Nadal has a winning percentage of 78% in the only Grand Slam played on clay.

Nadal’s record in the ATP Masters is also impressive. He has 36 Masters titles, second only to Novak Djokovic, who has 40 ATP 1000 titles. In 2005, only his second year on the tour, he collected an astounding 11 titles, including his first French Open title and four ATP 1000 Masters trophies.

Jannik Sinner (2024)

Jannik Sinner, the young Italian sensation, has achieved a remarkable feat in the tennis world. He has joined the elite club of players who have won the first 12 matches of a season, a milestone that only the “Big Three” – Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic – have reached before. However, unlike them, who attained this feat well into their careers, Sinner has done it within six years of turning pro.

Sinner’s impressive 12-match winning streak includes his maiden Grand Slam title at the 2024 Australian Open, where he defeated Carlos Alcaraz in a thrilling five-setter. He followed it up with a dominant performance at Rotterdam, where he lifted his fourth ATP title. With these victories, Sinner has extended his overall winning streak to 15 matches, dating back to last year’s Davis Cup in November.

Sinner’s rise to the top has been swift. He broke into the top 15 by August 2021 and climbed to World No. 3 by February 2023, becoming the highest-ranked Italian player in history. He surpassed the previous record of World No. 4, held by Adriano Panatta in 1976 and Francesca Schiavone in 2011. He is also closing in on the No. 2 spot, currently occupied by Alcaraz, who is widely regarded as the heir apparent to Nadal.

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