Novak Djokovic is eclipsing even the great Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal as his record-breaking season reaches a crescendo.
Two titles in two weeks in China, including the Shanghai Masters, show there’s no slowing down for the world No.1, who keeps rising.
Record points and prize money and three of the four grand slams, plus an aura of surreal calm, mark one of tennis’ best seasons.
Serbia was at war when Djokovic was a child in Belgrade, and he remembers dodging NATO bombing raids and practising his tennis in a disused swimming pool.
Those are experiences which he says keep him grounded.
Gluten-free Djokovic, who married and became a father last year, says his season is even better than 2011, when he also grabbed three majors and had a win-loss record of 70-6.
This year, only an inspired Stan Wawrinka in the French Open final denied him a calendar-year slam, and he has nine titles already, with the Paris Masters and World Tour Finals to come.
With only five defeats and 73 wins this year, the 10-time grand slam-winner hasn’t lost a set since the US Open final and has convincingly beaten Federer, Nadal and Andy Murray.
“It’s the best year of my life – no question about it. Everything is working great. I’m very grateful for the opportunity to be able to play this well, to be successful,” he said.
“I don’t want to get carried away by success obviously because I want to be playing on this level for many more years to come.”
Federer lost only four times in 2005, achieving one of the best winning percentages on record and claiming two grand slams, but an ankle injury stopped him closing out the year in style.
John McEnroe had only three defeats in 1984, one in the French Open final, compiling the best winning percentage in the Open era of 0.965. Ten years earlier, Jimmy Connors went 93-4.
Djokovic has become only the third man, after Federer and Rod Laver, to reach all four grand slam finals in the same year.
His points tally of 16,785, nearly double that of second-placed Murray, is a tour record, as is his prize money, set to top $US16 million ($A22 million).
It might not be long before he challenges Nadal’s tally of 14 majors and strives for Federer’s record of 17.
“Every time I step on the court, knowing I’ve had an amazing record this season and also in these tournaments in the previous years makes me play my best and makes me come out on the court with less doubts in my mind, I would say,” Djokovic said.
Just don’t ask him how opponents can beat him.
“It’s a good question, but I have no answer,” smiled the Serb.