2012 IN REVIEW
Rivalries 2012 - Djokovic vs. Federer
by ATP Staff|
ATPWorldTour.com reviews how the key rivalries played out in 2012. Today we feature Novak Djokovic vs. Roger Federer.
It was a rivalry that was played out not only on the court, but also in the 2012 South African Airways ATP Rankings as Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer tussled for the No. 1 spot. Djokovic and Nadal had dominated the top two positions in 2011 and it looked as though the trend would continue when the pair contested their third and fourth successive Grand Slam finals at the Australian Open (Djokovic) and Roland Garros (Nadal).
Federer had his work cut out for him if he was to achieve his goal of reclaiming the No. 1 spot and breaking Pete Sampras’ record of 286 weeks at the top of the South African Airways ATP Rankings. And he would need to surpass both Djokovic and Nadal to do it. The Swiss had closed 2011 in blistering form, going 17-0 after falling to Djokovic in the US Open semi-finals. He endured mixed fortunes at the start of 2012 before hitting his stride with three successive titles at the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament in Rotterdam (d. del Potro), the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships (d. Murray) and the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wels (d. Isner).
In Rome - the first of five meetings with Djokovic in 2012 - Federer went into the semi-finals in good form on clay, having triumphed a week earlier at the Mutua Madrid Open (d. Berdych). But it was the Serb who prevailed, shaking off a late Federer fightback in the second set to win 6-2, 7-6(4).
It seemed Djokovic firmly had Federer’s number when he also came out on top a few weeks later when they clashed in the Roland Garros semi-finals, winning 6-4, 7-5, 6-3. Federer served for the second set, but was unable to close it out and Djokovic seized his chance as he reeled off the next three games before securing a decisive service break in the sixth game of the third set.
Federer’s efforts on the clay had seen him close the gap on Djokovic, though, as the Serb had retained only two of the seven tour-level titles he won in 2011. Four weeks later he turned the tables on Djokovic in a Wimbledon campaign that would ultimately see him reclaim his No. 1 ranking. The Swiss defeated Djokovic 6-3, 3-6, 6-4, 6-3 in the semi-finals at the All England Club before going onto upset British hope Andy Murray and win his 17th Grand Slam championship.
“I'm ecstatic, I played a great match today,” said Federer. “It's been a tough tournament for me. I was able to play some fantastic tennis today. I thought Novak played good too. The third set was the key to the match and then I was able to step it up.”
Federer enjoyed his second successive win over Djokovic when they contested the Western & Southern Open final in August. It was their seventh meeting in a title match and saw Federer edge to a 4-3 lead in those contests as he claimed a 6-0, 7-6(7) win, scoring his first bagel set over Djokovic for the first time in 28 matches.
As Federer had done a year earlier, Djokovic excelled in the final quarter of the season as he set about reclaiming the No. 1 ranking. After losing the US Open final to Andy Murray, the Serb went on a tear, winning 10 successive matches as he claimed back-to-back titles in Beijing and Shanghai. Meanwhile, Federer was unable to match his exploits of 2011 and, after the Swiss surrendered his Basel crown to Juan Martin del Potro, Djokovic was guaranteed to finish the year-end World No. 1 in the South African Airways ATP Rankings.
They met one final time and fittingly it was in the last match of the season, the climax of the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals. In front of 17,800 spectators, Djokovic was crowned undefeated champion at The O2 after beating Federer 7-6(6), 7-5 in two hours and 15 minutes.
As the dust settled on another gripping instalment to their rivalry, Djokovic may have won three of their five meetings, but Federer could take solace in the fact that he had closed the gap, having won only one of their five contests the previous year. The Swiss may have turned another year older, but he proved he was not losing any ground.
Djokovic vs. Federer: 2012 Meetings
|Rome SF||Djokovic||62 76(4)|
|Roland Garros SF||Djokovic||64 75 63|
|Wimbledon SF||Federer||63 36 64 63|
|Cincinnati Final||Federer||60 76(7)|
|Barclays ATP World Tour Finals Final||Djokovic||76(6) 75|