Djokovic primed for shot at Dubai title
Who will stop the ‘Djokovic Express’?
The Serbian Novak Djokovic looks unstoppable right now and if he does continue the way he is playing at the moment, there are not many players around who are in a position to arrest his roll and he can become perhaps one the greatest modern-day players.
Granted, he may need a few more years to catch up with Roger Federer as far as the number of Grand Slams goes. The Swiss ace has 17, while the Serb is close on his heels with eleven against his name, including a record sixth Down Under last month.
But when it comes to career earnings, it looks like Djokovic may become tennis’ first $100 million (Dh367 million) man later this year.
Granted, in the last few years the tennis world has not really looked beyond the ‘Big Four’ – Djokovic, Federer, Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray. However, when it comes to the business end of things it has been more of a two-horse race between the Swiss and the Serb.
Djokovic has been such an amazing phenomenon on the court that it has translated into success off it. Slowly, but surely, he has caught up with Federer. He has $96.5 million career earnings, second only to nearly $98 million that Federer has banked so far, despite having a five-year headstart.
On court, Federer has been far more successful, winning 369 more matches and 27 more titles than his Serbian opponent. And yet, Djokovic could surpass Federer on the all-time career prize money list by the time the top players assemble at London’s O2 Arena for the season finale.
Not only is he dominating the ATP Tour, as per the pundits he is peaking at the right time and placing himself in just the right position that would help him strike it rich.
The numbers say it all. Djokovic has earned $20 million more in prize money than Nadal’s $76 million, while the Serb has twice as much as Murray’s $43.6 million and the two are born a week apart. Last year, Djokovic’s earnings were in excess of $21.65 million, while the rest of the ‘Big Four’ earned a combined $21.4 million during the year. To put it more succinctly – Djokovic’s earnings in 2015 were more than the $20.64 banked by Andy Roddick in his entire career.
Djokovic’s surge has been well contemplated, yet sudden at the same time. For a long time it looked like Federer was the lone fore-runner towards greatness. But now it looks like he has a competitor, a very serious and focused competitor.
From the time he chanced upon his fragility for all things gluten, Djokovic has blossomed into a better player. The money has rolled in, while he has constantly endeavoured to make his game better. He is now within six Grand Slams of Federer. And if Djokovic just keeps at it the way he has been doing for the next two or three years, then Federer’s record will only be second best.
The Swiss ace, who calls Dubai his second home, will be the biggest absentee here next week after undergoing knee surgery. Federer will be sorely missed by his huge legion of fans here. And even if the 35-year-old was present here then there is serious doubt whether he would be in a position to halt Djokovic in his tracks.
With his absence, much of the weight of challenging the four-time Dubai champion will fall on fourth-ranked Stan Wawrinka and world number 6, Tomas Berdych.
Wawrinka, who caused quite a stir for his second Grand Slam crown with a win against Djokovic in Paris last year, looks the better bet. But whether the second best Swiss player can get his act together is anyone’s guess.
And so it looks like Dubai will once again be a continuation of the Djokovic jigsaw puzzle. Well rested, the Serbian certainly looks primed for yet another incredible year on the tour.