Djokovic downs Nadal in 2011 US Open Final!

September 13, 2011 in Sport, Tennis

The current undisputed king of tennis, Novak Djokovic

I want to work on a few other posts I have lined up, but the tennis news just keeps flooding in.

World No. 1 Novak Djokovic, or the Djoker or Nole, or whatever you want to call him, just overcame Rafael Nadal to win the 2011 US Open title, 6-2, 6-4, 6-7, 6-1.  It was a fantastic final with lots of long rallies, running all over the court, and plenty of spectacular shots.  Nadal fought valiantly to bring the third set into a tie-breaker, which he won comfortably, 7-3, but the fourth set was a total annihilation.  This is the Djoker’s first US Open title following two previous finals losses, including last year’s final to Nadal.

The win continues a memorable run for Djokovic, who also captured his second Australian Open and first Wimbledon title and made the French Open semifinals this year.  For the season, he now has 10 titles and a 64-2 record, which gives him a remarkable 0.969 winning percentage, and if he does not lose again this year, will finish with the best single season winning percentage of all time (currently held by John McEnroe, who went 82-3 in 1984 for a 0.965 winning percentage).  Unbelievable.

Some people dislike Novak for his seemingly cocky demeanour, but I like the guy.  I think he brings a bit of spice to the game, which has been dominated for far too long by ‘nice guys’ like Federer and Nadal.  That said, I also like Rafa too, so I wasn’t going for anyone in particular in these finals.

I love how unpredictable tennis has been lately.  I remember when Nadal captured the French, Wimbledon and US Open last year and it appeared he was on the fast track to catching up to a sliding Roger Federer, or at least getting close enough to make the GOAT discussion even more interesting.

Then Djokovic suddenly takes his fitness and mental aspect of his game to a whole new level and becomes an absolutely unstoppable killer on the court.  Djokovic is 6-0 against Nadal this year, all in finals, and probably would have made it 7-0 and a ‘Grand Slam’ if he hadn’t dropped the French Open semi against Federer.  If Djokovic can keep this level of fitness up, there is no reason why he can’t continue this kind of run for at least another year or two and push his Grand Slam total into double figures in a hurry.

With Nadal as Federer’s kryptonite and Djokovic as Nadal’s, we now have a very interesting triangle of power, with Djokovic at the apex.  Now if only Andy Murray can do something — anything — to make it a quadrilateral…

PS: It is clear that Djokovic is also dominating the WAG category in men’s tennis as well.

No Djoke; girlfriend Jelena Ristic at the final

The Rafael Redemption: Nadal wins 2010 French Open!

June 7, 2010 in Tennis

I’m ecstatic for Rafael Nadal, who just captured his 5th French Open title by downing Robin Soderling, 6-4, 6-2, 6-4.  It was sweet revenge for Rafa, who defeated his one and only conqueror on Paris clay and is now a staggering 38-1 at Roland Garros.  He also reclaimed his number 1 ranking while preventing Federer from equaling Pete Sampras’ all-time record of 286 weeks at that spot.

Last year when Nadal shockingly bowed out of the French Open last year, paving the way for Roger Federer to win his first ever Grand Slam on clay, people were ready to write off the then 23-year-old as “past his prime”.  They said he was too one-dimensional, his style too prone to injury, and that he had already peaked.  But he proved them wrong once again, as he did by winning Wimbledon in 2008 and the Australian Open in 2009.  Now Nadal has 7 Grand Slam titles (5 French, 1 Wimbledon, 1 Australian) and 2 runner-ups (both Wimbledon).

While it is still waaaay to early to put Nadal in the GOAT discussions with Roger Federer (who has 16 Grand Slam titles and 6 runner-ups, plus that ridiculous 23 consecutive Grand Slam semi-final appearances), is it conceivable that one day Rafa might overtake Roger?  Let’s have a look at the numbers.

Federer is turning 29 in August whereas Nadal just turned 24 a few days ago.  At the age of 24, Federer had just won his 6th Grand Slam title (at the US), having won each of his first 6 Grand Slam finals.  Before he turned 25, Federer captured his 7th, the 2006 Australian Open, came runner-up in the 2006 French, and won his 8th Grand Slam at the 2006 Wimbledon.  Barring injury, Nadal would be the heavy favourite to win the French for the next 5 years, and by the time Federer hits 30, Nadal should also be the favourite for Wimbledon.  He could conceivably also win one or two more Australian Opens, and even though he has never done very well at the US, let’s say he breaks through and wins one there.

If we assume Federer doesn’t win another Grand Slam in his career and Nadal doesn’t miss any more time due to injury (both pretty unlikely), it’s within the realms of possibility that Rafa could end up with say something like 10 French Open titles, 4 Wimbledons, 2 Australian Opens and 1 US Open (that’s 17 for you math geniuses).  Even if he doesn’t quite get there, and ends up with say 13 or 14 Grand Slams (still a long long way to go), with his current 14-7 record against Federer, including 6-2 in Grand Slams (and 5-2 in Grand Slam finals), that makes the debate whole a lot more interesting.  Federer’s all-court game, consistency on all surfaces, effortless style and grace will always make him the front-runner in GOAT discussions, but can someone be the greatest of all time despite having one guy getting the better of him the majority of the time?  Right now the answer is yes because Federer is so far ahead of Nadal, but what if one day that gap becomes only a couple of Grand Slams?

I’m already looking forward to this year’s Wimbledon.  Will Federer get another one or will Nadal consolidate his Paris victory?  Or will someone else (like poor Andy Murray) finally come through?  Can’t wait.

Luck no. 13: Soderling stuns Federer at French Open!

June 1, 2010 in Tennis

Nobody beats Robin Soderling 13 times in a row.  Nobody.

In the most unexpected result since he ousted 4-time defending champion Rafael Nadal in the French Open last year (becoming the first, and so far, only man to beat Rafa at the French), Robin Soderling delivered another shock bomb today when he defeated world no. 1 Roger Federer, 3-6, 6-3, 7-5, 6-4.

It was sweet revenge for Soderling on a couple of levels — first, he had never beaten Federer in 12 previous attempts; and second, he lost to Federer in the French Open final last year (after which he said that before the match that he “yokingly” said that “nobody beats me 10 times in a row” — of course, he lost another couple of times to Federer after that, extending the streak to 12).

The stunning upset in the quarterfinals also brought an end to Federer’s remarkable 23 consecutive appearances in Grand Slam semifinals.  The next closest is Ivan Lendl with 10.  And if Nadal wins the French (and let’s face it, he probably will), Federer will lose his no. 1 ranking, robbing him of the chance to tie Pete Sampras’ record of 286 weeks at that spot.

Good for Soderling.  All streaks have to end some time.  This French Open has now become a redemptive quest for Rafa — or perhaps the crowning of the official giant slayer in men’s tennis?

Federer crushes Murray in 2010 Aussie Final; why don’t I like it?

February 1, 2010 in Tennis

Andy Murray's face says it all: kissing the trophy like that was a total dick move on Federer's part

It was just another day at the office for Swiss maestro Roger Federer, who annihilated a game Andy Murray at the 2010 Australian Open Final in three sets, 6-3, 6-4, 7-6 (13-11).  With the victory, Federer extended his Grand Slams record to 16, which is unprecedented in the history of men’s tennis.

Is there any doubt now that Federer, with two more Grand Slam titles than his nearest rival (Pete Sampras with 14) with many more competitive years left in his career, and having completed the career Grand Slam last year by capturing the elusive Roland Garros title, is the greatest of all time?  The one and only argument against him is his record against Rafael Nadal (ie if Federer isn’t even the best player of his era, then how can he be the greatest of all time?).  I don’t buy that for more than half a second.  If you still don’t believe it then you should check out this article (written before Federer won the 2010 Aussie).  Unless a guy comes along and starts smashing 230km serves with his dick, I’m always going to argue that the Fed Express is the GOAT.

But enough suction on Roger Federer for now.  I feel gutted for Andy Murray.  I don’t even like the guy that much, and I was hoping he would win.  It took me a while before I realised what that meant: I don’t like Federer anymore.

This is beyond strange.  For years I have supported Roger Federer and cheered him on in every tournament.  It was great watching his effortless play as he waltzed on towards history.  Even when he went up against players I liked more (like Michael Chang…just kidding), there was a part of me that still felt good when Federer won.

When Nadal came onto the scene and beat the crap out of Federer, I felt sorry for him and wanted him to win more than ever.  When Djokovic and Murray started beating him too, the same feeling rushed over me.  And that sobbing exhibition after losing the 2009 Aussie Open broke everyone’s heart (including mine and except Nadal’s).

However, somewhere between winning that 2009 French Open title to tie Sampras’ 14 slams and breaking the record at the 2009 Wimbledon, Federer started to lose his charm.  To me, anyway.  The hair flick after every point that used to be cool suddenly turned dicky.  His pre-match and post-match comments, which I used to classify as ‘confident but honest, proud but humble’, suddenly became ‘smug, arrogant and annoying’.

Almost overnight, I wanted other guys to beat him.  Murray, Djokovic, Roddick.  Either of the Williams sisters.  Anyone that may play against him, really.  And when Del Potro finally did it in the 2009 US Open Final against all odds, it was the first time I didn’t feel bad for Federer.  And yesterday, when Federer disposed of Murray in convincing fashion, it actually irritated me.

What could this possibly mean?  Has Federer become too dominant, too successful for his own good?  Is this bad for men’s tennis?  Does he need a Tiger Woods-style incident to bring him back to Earth?  (And let’s face it, there’s a pretty decent chance of that happening)

Please explain.

2010 Australian Open Predictions

January 19, 2010 in Tennis

Look, for some reason I can’t get revved up for the Australian Open this year.  I don’t know why.

It’s already started and I can barely force myself to follow the results, let alone watch it on TV.

Nevertheless, I sought advice from a tennis expert (okay, he’s just a friend who really likes tennis and has been quite spot on in the past, except when he puts money on it) on what he thinks will happen.  Here is what he said.

Who do you see coming through on the men’s side?

I expect Murray v Nadal in the QF for an epic match.  I also see Roddick making it to the SFs. I think Del Potro is not prepared enough to go far.

Davydenko or Verdasco to get through in the top half, but the winner is out of Nadal, Murray or Roddick.

What about the great man Federer?

As you know, I am as anti-federer as I have ever been now so I am hoping his GS semi final run ends here.

What about the ladies?

Elena to beat Henin in the next match.  Can’t help but think that if Elena didn’t have tennis player arms and not stayed in the sun all day, she’d be quite attractive.

Sorry, that’s all I’ve got.

 
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