Novak Djokovic regained the world No. 1 ranking on Monday, having climbed from outside the top 20 at the start of the year.
And the worrying thing for his opponents? He might have only just got started.
Djokovic’s climb back to No. 1 has taken in two Grand Slam titles and a 47-10 win record, leading to a total improvement in his Elo rating* from the start of the year of +265.
Elo ratings are an alternative to more traditional rankings aimed at giving a greater insight into a player’s performance ability.
As impressive as that ratings climb is, it isn’t unprecedented, especially when you consider players who are just coming onto the scene and have the most room to improve over a short period of time.
World No. 1 @DjokerNole feeling the ? from the fans.
— ATP World Tour (@ATPWorldTour) November 11, 2018
If we limit past improvements to players that were in a similar situation to Djokovic at the start of this year – i.e. players who have been playing professionally for several years and who began the season at an already high rating (1800+) – then the list becomes much shorter.
Only four other men in Open era history have had a similar rise at an already mature stage of their career.
Thomas Muster’s 1988 performance takes the first spot, a year when he rose from outside the top 50 to a ranking of 16, gaining nearly 300 Elo rating points along the way.
|Player||Year||Highest Elo improvement|
|1. Thomas Muster||1988||+298|
|2. Paradorn Srichaphan||2002||+296|
|3. Novak Djokovic||2018||+295**|
|3. Joachim Johansson||2005||+276|
|5. Pat Rafter||1997||+276|
Djokovic’s +295** improvement gets an asterisk because there is still time for him to go even further based on his results at the Tour Finals.
When we put Djokovic’s 2018 rise in relation to his two best seasons, 2011 and 2015, we see that his current season high is still far from his peak potential. In fact, Djokovic is only now around a level that was on par with his strength at the start of 2011 (at a rating of ~2100).
So, even while Djokovic is back at No. 1, if his peak performance is still an achievable goal, he could be even stronger than his current rating suggests.
That has to be a frightening prospect for the field but an exciting one for tennis fans looking towards the 2019 season.
Read the full article at Stats On The T.
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