Novak Djokovic’s longest trophyless start to a season: Will he break his own record?

Shahida Jacobs
Novak Djokovic in action
Novak Djokovic antics during his tennis match

Novak Djokovic remains without a trophy so far in 2024, but what is the longest he has gone at the start of a calendar year before winning a title?

Peak Djokovic usually starts his season with a title during the Australian swing as he has won 10 Australian Open titles and a few other trophies Down Under.

And more often than not when he failed to win a title in Australia, he would break his duck during the Middle Eastern swing or the Sunshine Double. But that has not been the case so far in 2024 for Djokovic.

Djokovic’s 2024 title drought

He started his campaign at the United Cup as he guided Serbia to the quarter-final before he lost against Alex de Minaur. That was followed by a semi-final exit at the Australian Open.

After skipping the swing in the Middle East, Djokovic returned at the Indian Wells Open for his first appearance at the ATP Masters 1000 event since 2019. But he was stunned in the third round by Luca Nardi.

Following his exit in Indian Wells he admitted, it’s a strange feeling, saying: “No titles this year. That’s not something I’m used to. I was starting the season most of my career with a Grand Slam win or, you know, Dubai win, or any or tournament.

“It’s fine. You know, it’s part of the sport. You just have to accept it. Some you win; some you lose. Hopefully I’ll win some more and still keep going.

“I guess every trophy that eventually comes my way is going to be great (smiling), obviously to break the kind of negative cycle a little bit I’m having in the last three, four tournaments where I haven’t really been close to my best.”

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There were high hopes that he would break his drought at the Monte Carlo Masters, but he went down against Casper Ruud in the semi-finals.

He then opted to skip the Madrid Open and made his return at the Italian Open, but his title drought continued as he lost in the third round against unheralded Chilean Alejandro Tabilo.

The longest Djokovic has gone at the start of a year before winning a title

Since winning his first-ever title at the Dutch Open in July 2006, this is only the third season where he has failed to win a title in the first four months of a season.

The previous years were 2018 and 2022, but he the 2024 season is set to become his second-longest trophy drought as his next opportunity to win a trophy will be at Roland Garros in June in just under a month.

2018 – 6 months and 14 days

On the back of an injury-disrupted 2017 season, Djokovic’s 2018 season also got off to a poor start as he was stunned by Chung Hyeon in the fourth round of the Australian Open. He then lost in the second round in both Indian Wells and Miami.

And here is the interesting part, after parting ways with Andre Agassi he then reunited with Marian Vajda at the Monte Carlo Masters, but it didn’t yield a trophy immediately.

He lost against Dominic Thiem in the third round in Monte Carlo and was then stunned in the second round in Barcelona and Madrid.

There were signs of a return to form at the Italian Open as he reached the semi-final before losing against Rafael Nadal and he then lost against Marco Cecchinato in the quarter-final at Roland Garros.

He came within a win of ending his drought on June 24 as he lost in the final of the Queen’s Club Championships against Marin Cilic.

But his struggles were forgotten on July 15 when he defeated Kevin Anderson in the Wimbledon final.

2022 – 4 months and 14 days

The 2022 season will always have an asterisk to its name as Djokovic was unable to compete at several events due to his unvaccinated status.

After being deported from Australia, Djokovic started his campaign in Dubai but lost in the quarter-final against Jiri Vesely.

He was also unable to play at the Sunshine Double and next competed at Monte Carlo, but was stunned by Alejandro Davidovich Fokina in the second round.

Andrey Rublev then denied him a title on home soil as the Russian beat him in the final of the Serbia Open before Carlos Alcaraz defeated the tennis great in the semi-final of the Madrid Open.

But Djokovic’s title drought came to an end on May 15 as he beat Stefanos Tsitsipas in the final of the Italian Open.

Novak Djokovic’s first title of the year since 2006

2006 – Dutch Open (July)
2007 – Australian Hard Court Championships (January)
2008 – Australian Open (January)
2009 – Dubai Championships (February)
2010 – Dubai Championships (February)
2011 – Australian Open (January)
2012 – Australian Open (January)
2013 – Australian Open (January)
2014 – Indian Wells Open (March)
2015 – Australian Open (February)
2016 – Qatar Open (January)
2017 – Qatar Open (January)
2018 – Wimbledon (July)
2019 – Australian Open (January)
2020 – ATP Cup (January)
2021 – Australian Open (February)
2022 – Italian Open (May)
2023 – Adelaide International (January)
2024 – ?