It would have been too much to expect Novak Djokovic to repeat his feats of 2011, when he enjoyed one of the most remarkable seasons in the history of men's tennis, but the 25-year-old Serb spoke here yesterday of his pride in finishing as world No 1 for the second year in succession.
Djokovic, who will open his Paris Masters campaign today against Sam Querrey, won only one Grand Slam title, compared with three in 2011, and his tally of five tournament victories is five fewer than last year.
But his consistency has been enough to ensure he will reclaim top spot in the world rankings from Roger Federer next Monday. He will end the year as No 1 whatever the outcome of next week's Barclays ATP World Tour Finals in London.
"It was very difficult to follow up after 2011 and to expect myself to repeat what I've done in that season, but winning one Grand Slam this year and five titles so far and being very consistent with my results helped me to be in this position right now," Djokovic said.
"It was a very good year for me, but it's not over. There are two more very important tournaments to come: indoors here in Paris Bercy, obviously, and then London next week."
In the 15 tournaments Djokovic has played this year, he has failed to reach the semi-finals only once, when he went out at the quarter-final stage on the blue clay courts he so disliked in Madrid. He has won 70 of his 81 matches and earned nearly $8.2m (about £5.1m) in prize money.
The Serb is ending the season in much better shape than he did last year, when he was a spent force after playing in the Davis Cup the weekend after he won the US Open. A back injury saw him miss the subsequent Asian swing, and he then failed to reach a final in his three appearances on the European indoor circuit.
In contrast, since this summer's Olympics, Djokovic has won three of his five tournaments, his only losses coming in the finals of the Cincinnati Masters (against Federer) and the US Open (against Andy Murray). "Physically I feel good now though, of course, I'm not the freshest guy on the tour because I have had a long year," he said.
Djokovic puts his consistency down to more careful scheduling. In 2012, he has played in only two events outside the Grand Slam and Masters Series tournaments and the Olympics, and has not appeared in the Davis Cup.
Asked how different he felt now to 12 months ago, Djokovic said: "It was in the back of my mind before I started this year not to get myself in a situation where I got hurt and eventually have to skip the important events like at the end of 2011. I haven't played that many tournaments. I have tried to focus, to always perform my best at the major events."
Djokovic agreed this year's schedule, with the Paris Masters and World Tour Finals played back-to-back, was a problem and he hopes changes might be made in future. Asked whether he thought some players in the eight-man field for London might not give 100 per cent this week, he said it was a "very sensitive" subject. He said he could not speak for others, but added: "I always try to win every match I play."Reuse content