Archive for the ‘TENNIS’ Category

Tennis Anyone?

Posted: May 16, 2011 in TENNIS

Normally I choose to write about the major sports leagues we have in North America, however today I’m going to take a little detour and comment on something sports fans of all levels of competition should be aware of. Yesterday Novak Djokovic won his 37th straight match in 2011, and 39th straight without a loss. That’s right, in only 4 1/2 months into 2011 he has already beaten 37 straight opponents, and shows no signs of slowing down.

In 2008 Novak Djokovic won his first major title, the Australian Open, against defending champion Roger Federer in 3 straight games after dropping the first. After getting such an important win in a major against one of, if not the best ever in Federer, we expected to see many more such moments in the near future. However he went on a major’s drought until capturing the Aussie Open title again this year in a relatively easy vicotry over Andy Murray in straight sets.

Prior to his second major win this year, Djokovic led Serbia to the 2010 Davis Cup win, beating France in the final to give Serbia it’s first ever win. This event may not be that important to the general public, but it’s a premier event amongst tennis player’s on the international stage especially without an Olympics in that year. This was significant because it was the start of great things to come for the young Serb.

The 2011 season started with the already mentioned Australian Open title. Not many sports start on such a high note in the season, however tennis starts off with a bang. The Aussie Open is a very spirited event, both amongst the players and especially the fans. I see the most decorated and partriotic fans at that tournament and it makes me smile watching people care so much about their atheletes and their countries. Now I will agree that most events are not internationally focussed, and too many times fans (mostly Americans chanting U-S-A at always an illogical and pointless time) make the event into something it is not. However, tennis is very special in that it is mostly viewed at 1 on 1 match ups and these athletes have adopted the role of representing themselves, as well as their native country in competition. It is very very global, and with only a handful of player’s from each country represented in these tournaments national pride is more than acceptable.

It was after that tournament however where we got to see what Djokovic was really made of. I have been watching tennis majors, and other tournaments, for a while now and have seen this outbreak coming for a while. However I had no idea it would come this quickly and of this magnitude. Based on his intensity and passion for winning and beating the best, you knew it was a matter of time before he tossed his name in the ring for world’s #1 player, I just didn’t expect him to take the title with such force. Although Nadal currently holds the #1 ranking still, after losing so many times both recently and to Djokovic, passing on the #1 ranking seems merely a formality.

In the coming months after the Aussie victory, Djokovic went on to beat Roger Federer in the ATP Dubai tournament in straight sets 6-3, 6-3. Now for those of you who are not avid tennis players, that’s a beating. Losing a match 6-3 6-3 is making pretty quick work of your opponent, especially when that opponent is arguably the best of all time.

Great job Novak, you won the first major, which you’ve already done once before, and now you’ve beaten an aging Federer when you’re just coming into your tennis prime both mentally and physically, congrats you thought. Not a chance, Novak decided he was not done yet and needed to up the ante. Now that he’s beaten the #2 ranked and former #1, it was time to take on the big fish in the pond and prove to himself, the tennis world, and the doubters that he belonged in the discussion for best in show.

To start his quest for the best he was tested early in the ATP BNP Paribas Open, losing the first set 4-6 but then rallying to win the next two in convincing fashion 6-3, 6-2. This was followed up by Novak beating Nadal 3 times out his next 4 finals matches played. Novak Djokovic is now 4-0 against Nadal this year in finals mathes, but only 11-16 all time against the Spaniard.

When asked about the play of Djokivic, Nadal said “He’s doing amazing things. Every match he’s very tough mentally and physically…I’m doing everything I can. I can’t ask myself anymore now.” He said it best, Djokovic is doing amazing things out there. “I have to wait for my moment to win and I know that”. Maybe Nadal needs to take a note from Djokovic’s playbook, because the last thing the Serb has been doing the last few years is wait. He has come at us like a bat out of hell this year and is not only earning, but taking what he believes is his, and forcing all of us to take notice.

When you watch his recent wins, his forehand accuracy and drive are unbelievable. The ball nearly misses the net on every shot, and yet every shot seems to be going exactly where he wants it with miraculous speed. As the matches wear on he only gets more fired up. A trait that used to be his downfall could now be considered his greatest asset.

Going into the French Open next week, you cannot help but make Djokovic the unanimous favourite. After beating the clay king on several occasions this year alone, combined with his 39 match win streak (37 this season) looking like it may never end, we may still have the best Djokovic to come. As for Nadal, everything he can do is not enough right now, and if he’s unable to ask anymore from himself going into Roland Garros next week, we might end up seeing deja vu all over again.