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Novak Djokovic Begins And Ends ATP Tour Season In Style

By Ken Miller, Lawn Tennis Correspondent, Posted: Saturday, November 22, 2008 6:12pm PST USA
Tennis Masters Shanghai, Shanghai, China, Lawn Tennis Magazine SHANGHAI--( Serbian Novak Djokovic, ranked third in the world, in January won the Australian Open and last week scored victory again at the ATP Tour's year ending tournament, the Tennis Masters Cup at Shanghai.

Djokovic, know for his wicked sense of humor and his still developing aggressive allcourt game, posted a personal best and a breakthrough result to start 2008 in winning

Novak Djokovic of Serbia | Photo by Getty Images
“I would put it in the same league as a grand slam because the best eight players in the world are participating here,” Djokovic said. “It’s a huge achievement for me.”

the Australian Open, tennis' first of four yearly grand slams, or most important tournaments.

In the Melbourne final, Djokovic defeated the powerful baseliner and Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 4-6, 6-4, 6-3, 7-6(7-2). The win placed Djokovic at a new level in his game and on the ATP Tour. Before reaching the Australian Open championship match, Djokovic had beaten the hometown favorite Lleyton Hewitt of Australia and the then world number one Roger Federer of Switzerland earlier in the week in prior rounds of play.

But after his Australian Open win, Djokovic fell to admittedly stronger opponents at the remaining three grand slam tournaments this year, while taking singles titles at two tournaments only; at Indian Wells, California and Rome, Italy.

Djokovic lost at the French Open to world number one Rafael Nadal of Spain, at Wimbledon to the former grand slam champion Marat Safin of Russia, and at the US Open to Federer.

At Shanghai, following the withdrawals of the two top ranked players, Nadal and Federer, Djokovic took advantage of a weakened field to showcase some of his best tennis to close the year with his 11th career singles title win at the Tennis Masters Cup Shanghai.

Djokovic defeated the six foot, six inches tall wonderkid Juan Martin del Potro of Argentina among others to reach the ATP Tour's year end championship final match. Del Potro, following his second round exit at Wimbledon, won 36 of his next 41 matches, while posting a 23 match winning streak.

In the final, Djokovic would defeat the fifth ranked Russian Nikolay Davydenko 6-1, 7-5 and further cut Federer's lead in the ATP Tour rankings points. Federer at 2nd place with 5305 points leads Djokovic at 3rd place with 5295 by only 10 points.

“I would put it in the same league as a grand slam because the best eight players in the world are participating here,” Djokovic said. “It’s a huge achievement for me.”

Among Djokovic's other accomplishments of 2008 include winning a bronze medal at the Beijing Olympic games. Also at only age 21, Djokovic became the youngest player in the open era to have reached all four grand slam semifinals.

“Certainly, I believe that I have quality to reach the top spot in the upcoming year or... next couple of years, 10 years,” Djokovic said. “That is my lifetime goal that I’ve been always trying to achieve.”

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