Novak Djokovic (born May 22, 1987 in Belgrade, Yugoslavia) is a Serbian tennis player who's well-known as the "Djoker" who gate-crashed the Roger Federer-Rafael Nadal duopoly in the 2010s and managed to cement himself as one of the greatest male tennis players of all time in the process, despite having to play in the same era as two other all-time greats.
Djokovic won his first Grand Slam at the 2008 Australian Open, but spent the next three years stuck in third-fiddle position to Federer and Nadal who were dominating him and everyone else on the men's tour. 2011 changed everything, as he became the player dominating everyone else by going on a spectacular 41-match winning streak to start the year and ending the year with three more Grand Slams under his belt and the No. 1 ranking wrested away from Nadal who he beat in six consecutive finals. This marked the first time in over seven years (since February 1, 2004) that someone other than Federer and Nadal held the ATP No. 1 ranking.
While Djokovic wasn't quite as dominant a force in most years after 2011, with Nadal, Federer, and Andy Murray usurping him at No. 1 for some periods, he still spent over 200 weeks at No. 1 and established himself as one of the most mentally resilient players on tour. 2015 and 2016 were when he had several of his finest achievements: he was so thoroughly dominant in 2015, making 15 consecutive finals and winning 11 of them including three Slams and a record-breaking six Masters titles, that many people consider his 2015 season to be one of the best Open Era seasons ever. He then became the first man since Rod Laver in 1969 to win four Slams in a row by winning every Slam from 2015 Wimbledon to the 2016 French Open, also achieving the Career Grand Slam at the 2016 French Open after years of frustrating losses there.
After 2016, Djokovic unexpectedly suffered a loss in form and an elbow injury, and he fell away from the top ranking just as Federer and Nadal were returning back to form. However, keeping in line with his career-long mission to not let Federer and Nadal hog all the glory to themselves, he came back from being ranked as low as No. 22 in 2018 to winning the last two Slams of 2018 and reclaiming the No. 1 ranking. He then started 2019 by winning a record-setting seventh Australian Open and came back from double match point down against Federer to win Wimbledon later that year for his 16th Grand Slam title, confirming that he's still hungry for more success.
Tropes associated with Novak Djokovic:
- Academic Athlete: He has a well-known passion for languages, and frequently puts his knowledge on display in post-match interviews. See Omniglot below.
- Berserk Button: He hates playing in any significant wind, which interferes with his precision shotmaking and visibly irritates him to a degree that arguably affects his performance more than the wind itself does.
- Beware the Silly Ones: He doesn't do the impressions of other players anymore, but there's a reason fans and commentators alike call him "Djoker". That doesn't change the fact that when he's on form, he's one of the most dominant players in tennis.
- Brief Accent Imitation: He often plays around with an Aussie accent and phrases in on-court interviews at the Australian Open.
- Determinator: One of the very few people who can go toe-to-toe with Nadal for five sets and come out on top, he seems to win some matches out of sheer refusal to lose them. Perhaps the strongest evidence of this grit is that he has beaten Federer after going double match point down at a Slam three times.
- Dude, Where's My Respect?: Even after becoming the World No. 1 and winning a truckload of Grand Slams, he isn't the crowd favorite nearly as often as Federer and Nadal are. Being the player who beats two of the most universally beloved players in tennis history the most frequently will do that to you. Despite his humility, it obviously bothers him that fan adoration is so skewed in favor of his rivals.
- Fan Nickname: "Djoker", which he now uses in several social media handles.
- Fragile Speedster: Used to be this in his early career, being an extremely agile player who nonetheless suffered from illness and breathing problems too often to dominate the tour like Federer or Nadal, until he evolved into a Lightning Bruiser in 2011.
- Game-Breaking Injury: An elbow problem played a significant role in the slump that followed his French Open victory, and he eventually had surgery to correct it in 2018. Reassembling his old coaching team did the rest, and he rocketed back to the No. 1 ranking by the end of the year.
- Graceful Loser: As much of a Large Ham as Djokovic can be on court, he's always gracious and affable towards his opponents in defeat. One prime example is him remaining friendly with Stan Wawrinka even after the latter denied him a Career Grand Slam in the 2015 French Open final and even happily showing off the keychain Wawrinka gave him of the plaid shorts he had worn during that final.
- Happily Married: To Jelena since 2014.
- He's Back: He spent most of 2017 and the first half of 2018 suffering injuries and early losses to lower-ranked opponents, including a loss to No. 71-ranked Marco Cecchinato at the French Open that left him so dispirited that he said in the post-match conference that he might not play the grass season. Cue him winning the next three Slams and reclaiming the No. 1 crown.
- Large Ham: He tends to be far more animated on court than Federer and Nadal and perform over-the-top victory celebrations, including memorably ripping off his shirt after winning a five-hour long 2012 Australian Open final against Nadal. He's also made a tradition of eating a piece of the Centre Court grass after his Wimbledon final wins.
- Lightning Bruiser: His speed on court may be his greatest weapon, giving him the ability to turn impenetrable defense into unreturnable offense.
- Miracle Rally: He's famous for these, especially the three occasions on which he has defeated Roger Federer after facing double match point: the 2010 US Open semifinal, the 2011 US Open semifinal in which he also had to recover from losing the first two sets, and the 2019 Wimbledon final. In the latter two examples, Federer had those double match points on his own serve, which is often cited as one of the best the game has ever seen.
- Omniglot: He's fluent in multiple languages, and has demonstrated his mastery of them during post-match speeches and press conferences. He has given interviews in Serbian, English, French, German, Italian, Arabic, Spanish, Russian, and Portuguese, and has also apparently picked up some Mandarin and Japanese.
- Overshadowed by Awesome: By Federer and Nadal. Even after winning 16 Grand Slams and holding a winning record against both (with both records skewed heavily in his favor in later years), he still trails them in the Grand Slam tally and public recognition.
- Percussive Therapy: In moments of extreme frustration, he's not above racket-smashing.
- The Rival: He's one-half of the two most prolific rivalries in men's tennis, going against Nadal a men's Open Era record of 54 times and against Federer 48 times. He also has notable rivalries with Andy Murray and Stan Wawrinka, with these two players' greatest victories at Slams coming against him.
- Rubber Man: While he doesn't have Plastic Man's superpowers, one of his greatest assets is his incredibly flexible body that lets him not only reach balls 99% of other players would have no hope of getting to, but return them with deadly accuracy. There's a Running Gag among tennis fans that he is somehow related to Gumby.
- Tough Act to Follow: After going on a 41-match winning streak and winning three Slams in 2011, him winning "only" one Slam per year for the next three years felt like a letdown. He also clearly struggled with this trope after winning four Slams in a row in 2015-16, not winning another Slam until 2 years later.
- Weaksauce Weakness: Despite virtually every other aspect of his game being top-level, he's oddly poor at putting away overhead smashes which created the Memetic Mutation of fans shouting "DJOKOSMASH!" every time he or another player misses or nets an overhead smash despite having the entire open court to hit it into. There's also his notorious hatred of wind, one of the few external factors that regularly undermines his renowned mental fortitude.