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At Wimbledon, Novak Djokovic reascended, and he’s more or less stayed there ever since. It took awhile to fully jar himself out of his blue period, but the Serb is back to dominating in all in the old ways, barely leaving so much as a scrap for anyone else. When Novak Djokovic is in full flow, he takes the air out of the room.

Djokovic has won four of the last five tournaments he’s entered: Wimbledon, Cincinnati, the U.S. Open, Shanghai. That’s two majors and two masters, with his loss in Toronto the only blip; it’s 27 wins in 28 matches, and 18 wins straight. He played seven top-ten opponents in that stretch, and beaten all of them. Last week in China, he hit a watermark unusual even for him—he was not broken once in 47 service games. If the best returner in history goes a whole tournament without dropping his own serve, that tournament is his. Djokovic did not drop a set: he beat Jeremy Chardy to cement a 28-set shut out in their career matchup; got revenge on Marco Cecchinato, his unlikely French Open tormentor; neutralized the serving of his Wimbledon runner-up Kevin Anderson; gave grumpy wunderkind Alexander Zverev the worst spanking of his whole season; and, in the final, bested Borna Coric, who is essentially the first draft of Novak Djokovic. None of these opponents really threatened his control:

Even on Shanghai’s fast courts, which Djokovic said were playing faster than at any point in the last decade, no balls were getting past him. When they were, it was only with heroic effort, as Coric learned in this incredible rally from the final, which Djokovic kept clawing his way back into:

He won the championship match 6-3, 6-4. Djokovic appears to be back, and not merely “won a major” back, but “next year’s majors are his to lose” back. Today he leapfrogged Roger Federer for the No. 2 world ranking, and now sits just 215 ranking points behind Rafael Nadal, who’s been trying to get his body right in time for Paris and the year-end finals. Djokovic, the youngest and presently the healthiest of that trio, is the new man to beat. A season that opened up with three ugly straight losses to Hyeon Chung, Taro Daniel, and Benoit Paire has, eventually, made Novak Djokovic $10,633,533 in on-court winnings, and it’s still only October. You would think he could afford to skip the paycheck for his upcoming Saudi Arabia reputation-laundering exhibition match.


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