Monday, July 4, 2011

Djoker: Why So Serious Rafa?

People who watch cricket and tennis, cannot fail to notice the similarity between South Africa and Andy Murray. Both enter the big tournaments in red hot form. Both have copious amount of talent and carry a large amount of hype with them. Both perform nervelessly at the preliminary stages. And both choke.

They said sometime back that as long as Roger Federer is around, Murray cannot win a major. Federer is past his prime now and his loss to Jo-Wilfried Tsonga at the QF, while still a shock, was by no means an unthinkable. So Murray found himself a raging Rafael Nadal to choke against. The turning point of that match was a Rafa service game in the second set. At 15-30 and a set down, Murray set himself up for an easy forehand at the net only to push it long. That was enough to bring out the Rafa juggernaut.

But this tournament wasn't about Rafa, Roger or Tsonga (clearly it wasn't about Murray). The man of this tournament travels on a diplomatic passport. His countrymen revere him and ever since he won them the Davis Cup, he seems to have decided to play only in matches where he will win. His box is always full of people-two brothers, mum and dad, coach, fitness trainers and a girlfriend, a boisterous lot; he bounces the ball a hundred times before he serves at break point, and he is the current Wimbledon and Australian Open Champion. And he has won 48 of 49 matches this year. When Novak Djokovic lifted his maiden Wimbledon title, he sort of capped his lifetime ambition. Having assured himself the number 1 rank by making it to the finals, all he needed to do was secure one more win to fulfil, what he says, he started playing tennis for.

The match itself was one of excellent quality. As expected, both players displayed exceptional court coverage, made very few errors and struck clean winners. Both players displayed remarkable defensive skills and the difference came down to who held his nerve when the other forced yet another ball back into play. In short, Djokovic did to Rafa what Rafa did so well against Federer. Even Rafa admitted that he had no answers that day.

Djokovic is 5-0 against Rafa this year, all their meetings in finals. He sure doesn't find this Djoke amusing.

Notable mentions:

1. Nicolas Mahut vs John Isner - Part 1 lasted more than 11 hours which probably led to part 2 being held on the summer solstice. Isner amused everyone by wrapping in in just over two.

2. Juan Martin Del Potro is a brilliant tennis player. He was destined for greatness when he was brutally constrained by a wrist injury. But he did show why he is considered good in his 4 set loss to Rafa.

3. It's winter in Australia but their Barnard Tomic shined like the northern sun on the lawns of SW19. He became the youngest quarter-finalist since Boris Becker and the No.1 ranked Aussie.

4. I don't follow women's tennis much but this tournament will make me keep an eye and an ear open for it. Credits go to Kvitova, Lisicki, Pironkova and Sharapova.


  1. What Agassi & sampras used to play is looking amateur compared to these.
    This is the best tennis ever witnessed. Federer no longer dominates, nadal getting beaten by Djoko for most part of the year n murray if not more holding on to his 4th spot.
    Most competetive tennis ever.
    Every body changing there game to stay ahead of it.
    Federer becoming attacking baseliner from attacking volley.
    Djoko never could win a match when he was 2 sets down but this year many a times he somehow managed to change situations in his favour.
    nadal being now good at all surfaces

    looking forward for august. I somehow have a feeling all 3 are going to leave no stones unturned especially federer otherwise it will be the only year since he won in 2003 without grandslam. Important year for tennis fellas .

  2. Hey awesome article.. VERY well written :)...
    I echo your opinions on all fronts especially the del Potro one, I really wanted him to win that match, he looked so good for it what with the Nadal injury and so on, sadly I feel he gave up or something in between, because he definitely had the talent to manage it... Ah well next time maybe ...

  3. @hi5sahil : Agassi and Sampras sure did not look amateurish. It's just the style of play that has changed. Sampras belonged to the classic era, serve and volley, high risk shots, going for the winner sorts...Agassi started what we see today...both were sure as hell good

  4. Start writing for sports keeda and earn some money re