To score 20 ATP wins in a row, one has to deliver his best tennis in a couple of weeks or even two months with a reduced schedule. Using his favorite surface, lower-ranked rivals or a career-best form, the most accomplished players of the Open era had at least one or two streaks with 20 ATP triumphs, with seven players standing above all the others on the exclusive list.
Jimmy Connors is in front, competing at some lower-ranked events and using walkovers to avoid defeats when he wasn't at 100%. Ivan Lendl had seven runs with 20 consecutive triumphs, capable of playing on a high level on every surface and both indoor and outdoor, challenging Connors and staying ahead of Bjorn Borg and Rafael Nadal who are both on six streaks with 20 wins, having another race of 19 triumphs and barely missing a chance to catch the Czech.
Two players who did that are Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic, with the Serb becoming the fourth player with at least seven streaks with 20 ATP wins on Friday when he defeated Gael Monfils in a thrilling Dubai semi-final, fending off three match points in the second set tie break to stay on the winning path.
Novak had his best run in 2011, starting it at the Davis Cup final in 2010 and not losing until the next spring when Federer toppled him in the semis at Roland Garros. He had two streaks of 28 wins in 2013-14 and 2015, earning another one in 2012-13, 2015 and 2018 when he made that remarkable comeback to finish as the year-end no.
1 player despite being ranked outside the top-20 in July. Losing to Roger Federer in the last round-robin match at the ATP Finals last November, Novak grabbed three wins at the Davis Cup Finals to kick off another incredible streak of triumphs, adding 17 in 2020 to reach the magical number of 20 again.
Losing the year-end no. 1 spot to Nadal, Djokovic was determined to get back to the ATP throne as soon as possible, finishing the previous season with wins over Yoshihito Nishioka, Benoit Paire and Karen Khachanov, dropping 15 games in six sets and gathering momentum ahead of 2020 that he kicked off at the inaugural ATP Cup.
Opening the season with a 7-6, 7-6 victory over Kevin Anderson, Novak survived tough challenges from Denis Shapovalov and Karen Khachanov as well, leading his country towards the title after beating Rafael Nadal in the final, delivering six wins and adding 665 points to his tally.
At the Australian Open, the Serb defended the crown and lifted the eighth Melbourne trophy, beating Dominic Thiem in a marvelous final after trailing two sets to one, extending the streak and heading to Dubai where he was the top favorite when the draw came out.
Malek Jaziri, Philipp Kohlschreiber and Karen Khachanov stood no chance against the Serb before that semi-final clash against an in-form Gael Monfils who was the better player for a set and a half, having a set and a break lead before Novak turned the tables around to reach the second set tie break, repelling three match points there and sailing through the decider to pick up his 20th consecutive win and join the exclusive group of players who have achieved that at least seven times.