Novak Djokovic hit the big 3-0 on Friday. The world No. 2 extended his 2011 winning streak in thrilling fashion with a three-set victory of David Ferrer in the quarterfinals of the Madrid Open. Djokovic has yet to lose so far this season.
The 30th straight victory is the third-longest to ever start a season. Entering Friday's match, Djokovic was tied with Ivan Lendl, who won 29 straight to start the 1986 season. John McEnroe set the record when he started 42-0 in 1984, breaking Bjorn Borg's mark of 33-straight to start the year, set in 1980.
On a phone call with Busted Racquet, Lendl said he wasn't even aware he held the third-longest streak until he was contacted last month by an ATP official.
"I don't mean to put it down," he said, "obviously it was a great start to the year, but mine isn't even the best out there."
Lendl said Djokovic is playing great tennis but that doing well in Spain doesn't mean he'll be ready for the French Open. "I don't know if Madrid is the best indicator because it's high and plays tough," he said. "The good indicator will be next week in Rome. Most interesting will be if and when he plays Nadal."
Next up for Djokovic in the semis of Madrid is Thomaz Bellucci, followed by a potential finals matchup with the winner of the Rafael Nadal-Roger Federer match. If he were to win both of those, Djokovic would still be 10 away from tying McEnroe. In other words, that record should be safe. (If he keeps winning, Nole would have a chance to break the mark in the semifinals of the French.)
No matter how far he gets, Djokovic's streak will stand up in history against McEnroe's and Borg's. Since the Australian Open used to be contested in December, none of those streaks from the 1980s included a Grand Slam.
If Lendl is any indication though, the streak is of little significance. "What really matters is the French Open."