2022 has been one hell of a rollercoaster for Novak Djokovic. After spending the lead-up to the first grand slam of the year holed up in refugee detention, Djokovic now sees himself in Turin competing as one of the best 8 players in the world in season 2022. In that time in refugee detention, Djokovic surprisingly kept his focus and spirits up very high, knowing that he could very well be playing on Rod Laver Arena if the Federal Court decision went in his favour. Shockingly, despite the Federal Court of Australia ruling in favour of Novak Djokovic being allowed to stay in Australia, the immigration minister decided to wield his power to remove Djokovic from the country.
Nevertheless, for the opening few months of the year, many of his colleagues had already got off to a flying start. For instance, by April 12th, Miomir Kecmanovic had already played 27 matches, including making the quarter finals of Indian Wells and Miami, as well as quarter finals at the Chile Open and Rio Open. Over that period, Kecmanovic managed to also make the last 16 of the Australian Open. Djokovic, on the other hand, played 4 matches and won 2 in that time period (until mid-April).
Yet despite being 4 months deep into the calendar, Djokovic over the next few months clawed back from the abyss to try and save his season. Over the next 2 months, Djokovic won Rome and Wimbledon, made the final of the Serbia Open, and made the semi-final at the Madrid Masters. He also made the quarter final of Roland Garros and had a late surge in September to win back-to-back titles at the Astana and Tel Aviv opens.
All in all, after a ridiculously long lay-off from competition due to vaccine mandates in both the US and Australia, Novak Djokovic seriously looked to have hit his stride again in 2022. Momentum was always going to be the Achilles heel for Djokovic, but qualifying for the ATP Finals? In April, most pundits of the game gave it no chance. Djokovic in 2022 ramped up a momentous comeback to the sport. Compared to his rivals over the opening 4 months of the year (Kecmanovic -24 matches, Djere- 17 matches, Davidovich-Fokina- 19 matches), he really played next to nothing with those 4 matches in that stretch.
However now we are at the Tour Finals. Djokovic boasts an incredible 27-8 record against next-gen at this year’s ATP Finals. 4 of those losses have come to Medvedev alone. Taking Medvedev out of the equation, his record is 24-4 against the rest of the next-gen field. However Nadal alone has beaten him 29 times, with the h2h between the two now at 30-29 Djokovic’s way. Can Nadal score his first win against Djokovic on hard courts since 2013? A troubling statistics also exists for Djokovic at the ATP Finals- he hasn’t won the tournament since 2015. The closest he’s come was surprisingly way back in his comeback season. That year (2018) for Djokovic was full of twists and turns- he was in arguably the worst form of his career in the first half of the season- then went on to win Wimbledon, Cincinnati, the US Open and Shanghai. He also returned to the top 2 rankings for the first time since the 2017 French Open, eventually ending the season as no.1. This was despite being ranked as low as 22nd that year.
So, all in all, how much of a chance does Djokovic have of breaking his title drought at the ATP Finals this year?