2011 has been the year of Novak Djokovic - and with the results of recent months lest we forget. Of course it wasn’t long ago that we’d crowned Rafael Nadal king of 2010. With the great era of tennis we currently find ourselves in - the likes of the best of the best all competing in such rich form at the same time - monopolies may come as a shock, as it’s often points here and there that determine results. But because with so little, in terms of skill and will to separate the best, confidence has become the most coveted and necessary weapon; and confidence is the fuel for monopoly.
We are lucky to have a top four that is literally - in the literal sense of the word - a top four. They may shift amongst each other but it will be a huge ask for any outsider to penetrate that inner circle with audacity. Still it must be said that the remaining top ten is indeed worth boasting about and hardly comes as a surprise. But as long as Novak, Rafa, Roger and Andy are willing, it will be difficult to imagine a no.5 or higher next to any of their names.
It’s been Novak’s year, but it’s also been Rafa’s clay season, Andy’s Asian swing and Roger’s end of year. Even with the dominance of Novak this year, the rest of the big four never failed to remind everyone that they were still in the picture. I think 2012 will be a leveller. All have proven they have what it takes to take it. Novak’s gotten himself out of Rafa and Roger’s shadow, Rafa has shown everyone that in amidst of adversity, he still owns the clay, Andy has shown more of the kind of play that everyone wants him to adopt (remember 6-0 in the final set of Tokyo against Rafa?) and Roger has once again proven he’s not a decrepit old man descending into mediocrity.
So as we hit the reset button and look ahead to the new season once again, we need be aware that there is plenty to prove for the big four. Each knows what can happen when one man’s confidence is allowed to overflow and all will be looking to stem that flow should it begin. Competitiveness in 2012 may just reach unprecedented levels; and with the Olympics being a welcome addition to the year, should certainly make for nail-biting 12 months.