Novak Djokovic has some ridiculous statistics, of course. 400-plus weeks ranked No. 1 on the ATP tour, 24 Grand Slams, 40 Masters 1000 titles are just a few incredible milestones. But maybe something more astonishing is just how few times Djokovic has failed to lose a match after holding match point.
That number grew from only three to four, however, in the semifinals of the Davis Cup last week. To reinforce the point, just four times in 1,300 career matches, of which Djokovic holds a career mark of 1,087-213, has the Serb lost a match after holding match point. That is less than 1 percent of all his total matches and less than 1 percent of his total victories. When Novak Djokovic has a player on the brink of defeat, he almost always beats them.
But Jannik Sinner did not just come back from match point down in the semifinals of the Davis Cup, Sinner did something no player had ever done against the Serb. The Italian came back from three match points down – he was down love-40 with the third set tied at 4-all – and won the final six points of the game and then broke Novak Djokovic in the next game to take the match.
Jannik Sinner does something no one else has ever done against Novak Djokovic
The other three times players had saved a match point and then came back to beat Djokovic were the 2007 semifinals at the Rotterdam Open against Mikhail Youzhny, the 2018 Queen’s Club final against Marin Cilic, and the 2018 Madrid Masters semifinal against Rafael Nadal. Jannik Sinner seems to rightfully be gaining lots of confidence with his play in the second half of 2023, especially after defeating Novak Djokovic twice in three matches during November, and he could be a force in 2024 and beyond. Saving three match points against Djokovic and winning the match will only add to that confidence.
In other tennis news, eight players served at least 500 aces on the ATP tour this year. Hubery Hurkacz was far and away the leader with 1,031 aces in 69 matches. Second-best was Taylor Fritz with 692 in 77 matches. But while Ben Shelton was eighth in number of aces, his number might be as impressive as any other player not named Hurkacz.
No other player among the eight players other than Hurkacz averaged at least 10 aces a match besides Shelton, The American had 505 aces in just 50 matches. He also had a 149 MPH serve at the US Open. With more matches played in future years, Shelton is likely to eclipse 1,000 aces in a year too.