For five and a half years, Novak Djokovic had been the dominant figure in men's tennis, winning 48 ATP titles between 2011-2016 including 11 Grand Slam trophies and 24 Masters 1000 events, setting some fantastic records and standing as the personification of consistency.
During those six seasons, Novak had scored 427 ATP wins, moving through the list of players with the most ATP triumphs in the Open era and notching mind-blowing 300 wins between the Australian Open 2012 and Dubai 2016, getting closer to the magical number of 800.
As we all know, an elbow injury that had been bothering him for months halted his progress in 2017, missing all the action after the quarter-final exit at Wimbledon and ending the season with less than 40 triumphs for the first time since 2005!
The start of 2018 was anything but easy for a former world no. 1 too, winning just six matches before Rome and suffering some unexpected losses that would have never happened to him before the injury and that break he had to make.
Novak finally found his form in Rome and at Roland Garros, carrying it to the grass where he reached the semi-final at Queen's, returning to this event for the first time since 2010. The quarter-final win over Adrian Mannarino was Novak's 800th in a career, becoming only the 10th player in the Open era with so many wins on the Tour, just one shy of Stefan Edberg who clinched 801.
The rest is pretty much history and Novak secured the place among the legends once again with a thrilling second part of the season, conquering 47 of the last 53 matches and winning Wimbledon, Cincinnati, US Open and Shanghai to pass Rafael Nadal and finish the season as the year-end no.
1 for the first time since 2015. Pumped and motivated to regain the Australian Open crown, Novak dominated in Melbourne to secure the 15th Major crown and the third in a row, not playing on the same level in the other three tournaments so far and switching his focus to Roland Garros where he will chase the second "Novak Slam."
Before that, the Serb has celebrated the 850th ATP win in Monte Carlo after a hard-fought win over Philipp Kohlschreiber in the second round, becoming the eighth player in the Open era to achieve that. The 31-year-old is just 20 victories behind Andre Agassi in the seventh place and further 11 to John McEnroe, looking good to pass the both before the end of the season and even to chase triumph number 900 if he repeats what we saw from him in the second part of 2018.
Novak's great rival Rafael Nadal currently stands on 929 ATP wins and Novak should pass him in the next five or six years, especially if he stays on the Tour longer than the Spaniard. Novak and Rafa have been among the most productive players on the Tour considering the win-loss record, standing only behind Bjorn Borg but competing in a much bigger number of encounters than the Swede.
Victory over Kohlschreiber was also the 200th for Novak on clay, becoming only the second Open era player after Roger Federer with at least 500 wins on hard and 200 on clay courts.