© ATP World Tour/Getty Images

Novak Djokovic is the all-time leader in percentage of matches won after capturing the first set, according to the FedEx ATP Performance Zone.

Why Not To Fall Behind Novak Djokovic

The FedEx ATP Performance Zone shows how the World No. 2 has dominated with the lead during his career

Nobody on the ATP World Tour wants to lose the first set. But there’s a lesson in the numbers — whatever you do, don’t fall behind Novak Djokovic.

A slow start has proven especially harmful against Djokovic, as no player has been more dominant with a one-set lead than the Serbian. According to the FedEx ATP Performance Zone, Djokovic holds a 724-31 record after winning the opener, a win-rate of 95.9 per cent. Only 14 players in history have won at least 90 per cent of their matches after winning the first set.

That could be something to keep an eye on this week at the Rolex Paris Masters, where the 72-time tour-level champion Djokovic continues his pursuit to regain the No. 1 ATP Ranking. And the recent Cincinnati, US Open and Shanghai champion is in excellent form, arriving in Paris having won the past 24 matches in which he has won the first set.

Top 5 Players In History After Winning The First Set

 Player  Record  Win-Rate
 1. Novak Djokovic  724-31  95.9%
 2. Rafael Nadal  808-42  94.8%
 3. Bjorn Borg  563-35  94.1%
 4. Andy Murray  557-39  93.5%
 5. Roger Federer  1,047-75  93.3%

In fact, the four-time Paris titlist has won the first set in 25 of his 35 clashes at the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 event. And of those 25 matches, he has triumphed 24 times. It doesn’t hurt that Djokovic arrives in France on an 18-match winning streak overall, either.

What’s perhaps most impressive is that, excluding wins over two qualifiers ranked outside of the Top 90, Djokovic owns a 22-1 record at the final Masters 1000 tournament of the year against opponents with an average ATP Ranking of No. 17. But that’s not all — Djokovic has always dominated with the lead against the best players in the sport.

Explore The FedEx ATP Performance Zone

The 31-year-old has won 89.8 per cent of his matches against Top 10 opponents after taking the opening set. That means that Djokovic’s win-rate in such a situation against the Top 10 is better than that of all but 15 players in history against the field.

Only one player has done better against the elite group, and that’s World No. 1 Rafael Nadal. The Spaniard has won 90.0 per cent (135-15) of his matches against the Top 10, and he is directly behind Djokovic in matches won after claiming the first set against the field. Nadal has captured 808 of 852, or 94.8 per cent.

Rounding out the Top 5 in the category are Bjorn Borg (94.1%, 563-35), Andy Murray (93.5%, 557-39) and Roger Federer (93.3%, 1,047-75). Of the Top 10 players in matches won after triumphing in the first set, only one — Juan Martin del Potro — has not reached No. 1 in the ATP Rankings. 

The 'Big Four' Against Top 10 Opponents After Winning The First Set

 Player  Record  Win-Rate
 1. Rafael Nadal  135-15  90.0%
 2. Novak Djokovic  159-18  89.8%
 3. Roger Federer  187-34  84.6%
 4. Andy Murray  78-18  81.3%

Djokovic has been doing that well this year, clinching 40 of the 42 matches in which he has come out on top in the opener. And he’ll try to continue getting ahead in Paris, where he seeks a record-tying 33rd Masters 1000 title.

Did You Know?
Djokovic can return to the top spot in the ATP Rankings by triumphing in Paris, regardless of Nadal's result at the indoor hard-court event.