Thursday, 7 July 2011

In 2011 Everything Has Gone Right For Novak Djokovic

(Pic: AP Photo)
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Having taken three years following his debut to capture his maiden Slam, three years later Novak Djokovic realized his childhood dreams at The All England Club, in a matter of three days - becoming the world no.1 and then subsequently affirming his new status by capturing his first Wimbledon trophy.

For the poor sods of the ATP, Roger and Rafa’s dominance on the tour for the past eight years meant that, aside from perhaps willing one or both of them to be kidnapped by pirates, a superhuman performance was the sole prerequisite to even have a chance of capturing a big title.

But Novak’s managed to do just that. He’s had a superhuman year – and seeing as we’re halfway through the season and he’s pocketed 8 titles, including 2 Slams, lost a total of once this year; but not before maintaining a 41 match winning streak, you’d have to have been in deep hibernation under a boulder in the middle of the Bermuda Triangle all year to argue against him being a candidate for the best season of all time since Rod Laver’s Career Slam in 1969.

(Pic: AP Photo)
This year he’s not only managed to beat the game’s grittiest competitor and biggest threat i.e. Nadal, five times in a row five finals, but in doing so he’s planted himself firmly in the Spaniard’s head; which is exactly where you’d want to be. (You know, staying ahead of competition and all.) And this vantage point, he can gleefully add to his already overflowing lists of strengths.

They say confidence and momentum are everything in tennis. They also say confidence breeds confidence. Novak is living and breathing proof of this. He’s currently playing tennis that you can only fantasize about. There are no obvious weaknesses in his game and no one has figured out how to beat him yet apart from trying to beat him at his own game (c.f. Roger Federer at Roland Garros).

He’s made no secret of the fact that the turning point was at Davis Cup in 2010 where he “let go of the fear”. And it’s this fearless approach allowed him to enter into the Wimbledon final knowing he had a serious shot at it. He took the confidence he’d received from beating his opponent four times prior and it turned out that was all he needed really (well, that and excellent play). 

(Pic: Getty Images)
So all he had to do was wait till Nadal’s self doubt crept in, and unlucky for the Spaniard that happened when he was serving to stay in the first set. With a puffed chest Novak made Nadal look ordinary in the second, managing to break him twice. It looked like it was going to be a quick and painful one.

But then this was Wimbledon and this was Rafael Nadal after all. Something had to give, even if just for a moment. Nerves had to creep in and the 10 time Grand Slam title holder had to lift his game -hence set three was Rafa’s.

However the fourth set reminded us just how much Djokovic had matured mentally. He kept his resolve and fortunately for him Nadal doubts resurfaced again in the nick of time to give Novak the break and serve for his first Wimbledon championships. 

(Pic: Getty Images)
He's firmly a member of the champion’s club now. He’s won big on more than one surface. He’s overcome an in form world number one in a Grand Slam final for the first time. He beat the best to be the best. Now he is going into the season on which his favourite surface lies – knowing that not only has he only lost once this year but he’s a head and shoulders above the rest of the field. 

Yes in 2011 everything has gone right for Novak Djokovic.

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