Five-time ATP World Tour Finals champion Novak Djokovic has won the last four editions for the ATP World Tour Finals, and he will be looking to win the title for an unprecedented sixth time. The 12-time Grand Slam champion is also looking to regain his world number one ranking.
A dominant first half of the season saw Djokovic win the Australian Open and French Open, completing the Career Grand Slam in the process. Yet the second half of the season has been uncharacteristic for Djokovic. The Serb suffered losses to Sam Querrey in the third round of Wimbledon, Juan Martin del Potro in the first round of the Rio Olympics and to Stan Wawrinka in the final of the US Open.
Djokovic may be struggling for form but he is always the favorite in every tournament he participates in. He could end new world number one Andy Murray's reign at the top of the rankings in London next week.
The world number two has had a stellar 2016 season so far by boasting a 61-8 win-loss record along with winning two Grand Slam singles title, and a runner-up finish at the US Open which isn't too shabby.
Djokovic began his preparations for his Australian Open title defense in Doha, and a clinical Serb crushed the draw without dropping a set culminating with a humbling defeat to rival Rafael Nadal in the final. In Melbourne, Djokovic dispatched Hyeon Chung, Quentin Halys, Andreas Seppi and Gilles Simon (who was the only player who took the Serb to five sets) in the first four rounds. Djokovic defeated Kei Nishikori in the quarterfinals, Roger Federer in the semifinals, and Andy Murray in the final for the fourth time to win the Australian Open for the sixth time.
Following a quarterfinal retirement in Dubai against Feliciano Lopez due to an eye infection, it was the usual business for Djokovic in North America.
At the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells and Miami Open, the Serb defeated Milos Raonic and Kei Nishikori in those finals, but the French Open has been Djokovic's main priority since 2012 as he has claimed the other three Grand Slam titles. His clay court season got off to a poor start at the Monte Carlo Rolex Masters losing to Jiri Vesely in his opening match in three sets.
The former world number one rebounded from adversity once again at the Mutua Madrid Open by defeating Borna Coric, Roberto Bautista Agut, Raonic and Nishikori in straight sets. In the final, he was up against Murray and ended Murray's title defense in the final in three sets.
The following week in Rome, Djokovic's title defense as the two-time defending champion was over as Murray defeated him in straight sets. Although the Serb was exhausted after a long semifinal encounter with Nishikori. For Djokovic, the second Grand Slam tournament was all that mattered. He finally won the French Open by defeating Murray in their third consecutive clay court final meeting in four sets to complete the Career Grand Slam.
Djokovic was heavily tipped to win Wimbledon and complete the Calendar Year Grand Slam, however, the two-time defending champion's reign was ended by Sam Querrey in the third round. After that shocking exit at the hands of Querrey, Djokovic claimed his seventh and most recent title of the year at the Rogers Cup in Toronto without dropping a set in the process.
At the Olympics, Djokovic lost to a resurgent Juan Martin del Potro in the first round. It was the second consecutive Olympics, that the Argentine dispatched Djokovic following their bronze medal match in London back in 2012. The Serb left the court in tears as it was the 29-year-old's best chance of winning a gold medal in his prime.
More misery ensued for Djokovic as the former world number one lost to a red-hot Wawrinka in the US Open final. This was followed by a shocking semifinal exit at the hands of Roberto Bautista Agut in Shanghai. Uncharacteristic losses and failure to defend points coupled with Murray's remarkable form ensured that Djokovic's 122-week reign as world number one ended. The 2014 US Open champion Marin Cilic defeated him for the first time in the quarterfinals of the BNP Paribas Masters in Paris.
Djokovic's history at the ATP World Tour Finals
The world number two is unbeaten in ATP World Tour Finals championship matches boasting a 5-0 record in finals. In 2008, Djokovic won his first ATP World Tour Finals title which was held in Shanghai as the second seed.
He defeated 2009 champion Nikolay Davydenko and del Potro in his group but lost to Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. In the semifinals, the Serb recovered from a set down to defeat Gilles Simon and in the final, Djokovic defeated Davydenko once again in straight sets to clinch the title.
Four years later in London, Djokovic defeated Murray, Tomas Berdych and Tsonga in the round robin stage, and came back from a set down to defeat del Potro in the semifinals. In the final, he ended Roger Federer's title defense to clinch the title for the second time.
In 2013, Djokovic was the second seed but he had a tough draw with Federer, del Potro, and 2013 US Open semifinalist Richard Gasquet. Yet, the Serb had to work hard, to reach the semifinals but topped the group by defeating all his opponents in three sets. Djokovic went on to dispatch Wawrinka in the semifinals and Nadal in the final to retain the title and become a three-time champion in the process.
At this point, Djokovic only clinched Wimbledon in 2014 as his sole major of the year and was paired with two new Slam champions in his group. His group involved that year's Australian Open champion Stan Wawrinka and US Open champion Marin Cilic along with Tomas Berdych. Djokovic eased into the semifinals without dropping a set but he was made to work by Kei Nishikori in the semifinals in three sets. In the final, Djokovic was due to face Federer but the 17-time Grand Slam champion withdrew due to injury which was the tournament's first final withdrawal in the 45-year history.
Last year, the Serb had dominated by winning three of the four Slams for the second time in his career. Djokovic lost to Federer in his round robin match with the Swiss former world number one but defeated Nishikori and Berdych, and defeated Nadal in the semifinals. He gained his revenge by defeating Federer in the final to become the first man to win the title in four consecutive years.
The four-time defending champion has been drawn in the Ivan Lendl Group which is considerably weaker compared to the John McEnroe Group that features three Grand Slam champions and a Grand Slam runner-up.
In Djokovic's group, Milos Raonic is appearing in London for the second time, and it also features two debutants in Gael Monfils who's at a career-high ranking of number six and Dominic Thiem.
The 12-time Grand Slam champion is unbeaten against all of three of his opponents, boasting a collective 23-0 record against them.
Djokovic's chances of progression
The Serb will be pleased with the draw he has been given compared to Murray's group which features Cilic, Wawrinka, and Nishikori. Djokovic's group isn't easy by any means but it is a group that he should top easily. The defending champion usually finds an extra gear in this part of the season which he hasn't been able to do this year. Murray's reign as world number one could end abruptly, should the Serb go further than him in London.
The ATP World Tour Finals has been a happy hunting ground for Djokovic in recent years. If he plays his best tennis by defending well, attacking from the baseline, throwing in drop shots and lobs, he will be increasingly difficult to beat. The second seed in London is still the favorite to win the title in London for the sixth time in his career, and return to the summit of the rankings once again is certainly on Djokovic's mind.