Novak Djokovic is the Serbian tennis pro whose brilliant undefeated streak to start the 2011 season propelled him into a decade-long run at the top of the men's professional game. He has won 22 major singles titles, tying him with Rafael Nadal
for the all-time record. Novak Djokovic was born in Belgrade just a few years before the breakup of Yugoslavia and the tumult of the Bosnian War. At age eight he began training with Jelena Gencic, the celebrated Yugoslavian coach. From 2001 to 2003 he tore his way through the junior circuits, and he played his first professional match, in Belgrade, in 2003. He won his first pro title at the 2006 Dutch Open. That year he reached the quarterfinals of the French Open and then finished the year ranked #16 in the world. Novak Djokovic won his first major, the Australian Open, in 2008. Still, he had a reputation as a jovial goof (his funny impersonations of other competitors earned him the nickname "Djoker") and as a streaky player who was easily injured. That all changed in 2011, when he began the season by winning 40 straight matches and the Australian Open before losing to Roger Federer
in the semifinals of the French Open. Counting his last two matches in 2010, his total winning streak was 42 straight match wins -- just shy of the modern record of 46 set by Guillermo Vilas in 1977. He then won Wimbledon 2011 (beating rival Rafael Nadal
), which made him the #1 ranked player in the world. Djokovic won an impressive three majors in 2011 -- the Australian Open, Wimbledon, and the U.S. Open -- and then continued the string by winning the Australian Open in 2012 (defeating Nadal 5-7, 6-4, 6-2, 6-7 (5), 7-5 in an epic match that lasted 5 hours and 53 minutes) and in 2013 (defeating Andy Murray 6-7, 7-6, 6-3, 6-2). The latter victory made him the first man in the Open era to win three straight Australian Open singles titles. He completed a career Grand Slam in 2016, winning the French Open by defeating Andy Murray
3-6, 6-1, 6-2, 6-4. At that moment he was also the reigning holder of the four major titles, having won Wimbledon and the U.S. Open in 2015 and the Australian and French Opens in 2016. Among his many other notable matches, Djokovic beat Roger Federer in a five-set classic at Wimbledon in 2019, winning three tie-breakers for a final score of 7-6, 1-6, 7-6, 4-6, 13-12. The match lasted 4 hours and 57 minutes. Djokovic was banned from the 2022 Australian Open after he refused to be vaccinated against Covid-19 -- a requirement for people entering Australia. But in 2023 he returned and, once again, won the tournament for his record-tying 22nd major singles title. Overall, Novak Djokovic's 22 major tournament singles championships are: the Australian Open (2008, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2015, 2016, 2019, 2020, 2021, and 2023); Wimbledon (2011, 2014, 2015, 2018, 2019, 2021, and 2022); the U.S. Open (2011, 2015 and 2018); and the French Open (2016 and 2021).