Sunday 22 November 2015

Novak Djokovic Vs Roger Federer: two best players this season?

Djokovic after his victory over Federer in the US Open
They will face off again at the finals at the O2 tonight.

We have come down to the final match of the season and once again, two of the best players of the season face off for the summit clash of the World tour finals. No doubt irrespective of the outcome Novak Djokovic will still have his best season ever and with 10 titles this season (Federer has 6), a defeat at the hands of Federer will still make him, by far, the best player this season. 

While there is no doubt that Novak Djokovic is the best player this season, there can be a slight debate on who the second best player this season is. Andy Murray is the current world number 2, and unless Federer wins the title here at the O2, Murray will finish 2015 as year end number 2, his best finish ever. Even if Federer wins the title, Murray can still end the year number 2 if he wins two Davis Cup singles clashes. 

That is about stats and rankings. But I think there is more than just that to judge who has been a better player in a particular season.


Andy Murray has a season win-loss record of 69-14 (83.13%). He won 4 titles this season out of 7 finals he reached.
Roger Federer has a win loss record of 63-10 (86.3%). He made it to 10 finals and won 6 of them.
While Federer's 6 titles is second only to Djokovic, David Ferrer has one more title to his name than Andy. Add to it a slightly better win-loss percentage, Federer edges Murray in this criteria.
Interesting to note here that Novak Djokovic has been responsible for all of Federer's 4 and Murray's 3 final losses this season.


Andy Murray beat Rafael Nadal for his only
Masters 1000 title this season in Madrid

Andy Murray won the Canadian Open, defeating Djokovic for the title and made the finals of Miami and Paris, losing both to Djokovic.
Federer defended his title in Cincinnati by beating Djokovic, and made it to the finals of Indian Wells and Rome, surrendering the titles to Djokovic.
No winners in this category clearly.


Federer beat Murray 7-5, 6-4, 6-4 in the
Wimbledon semi-finals, their only grand slam
encounter this season

Andy Murray made it to the finals of the Australian Open, losing to Djokovic in four sets. He stretched the same opponent to 5 sets in the semi finals of the French Open but the outcome of the match was the same. In the Wimbledon semi finals he suffered a straight sets loss to Roger Federer and exited the US Open in the fourth round by going down in four sets to Kevin Anderson.
Roger Federer's quest to a grand slam quest started badly, as he lost to Andreas Seppi in the third round of the Australian Open. Stan Wawrinka conquered him in straight sets at Roland Garros in the quarter final stage. In the last two grand slams of the year, he made it to finals comfortably (losing just one set to Sam Groth in the third round of Wimbledon) on both occasions, but eventually lost in four sets to Novak Djovkovic in both attempts.
This category also does not bring out a clear winner.


Andy Murray in action at the Davis Cup

While Roger Federer has done well to contribute to Switzerland's elevation to the World group playoff's again, Andy Murray has ensured that Great Britain gets a shot at the title for the first time since 1936. This a great achievement for any tennis player and is one of the highlight moments of Andy Murray's career.


Roger Federer after his victory over Rafael Nadal at the
Basel Open final.

Federer clearly has a better record when it comes to facing top 10 opponents. He is 15-5 (75%) while Andy Murray is 12-9 (57.14%). 


When we filter the above criteria into just matches against Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Stan Wawrinka (read big four? if you do not agree that Stan Wawrinka should be on the list), and each other, the facts become even clearer. While Federer is 9-5 (64.29%) against these four fellow players, Murray is a poor 2-9 (18.18%). This means that Murray has struggled against the very best of men's tennis. A record of 1-6 against the number 1 player, 0-2 against the number 2 (Federer) and 0-1 against the number 4 Stan, does not go well with the résumé of a world number 2. Federer meanwhile has handed the world no. 1, 3 of his 6 defeats this year, and losing 4. With Murray he is 2-0, Stan 3-1 and Rafa 1-0. 

Murray after losing to Djokovic in the
Australian Open final, one of his 6 losses to
Djokovic this season

Looking at all the above criteria, it is quite clear that Federer has been a slightly better player than Murray this year, no matter what the rankings say.

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