HOW DJOKOVIC STOLE NADAL AND FED­ERER’S THUN­DER

CityPress - - Sport - SIL­VER SIBIYA sil­[email protected]­press.co.za

Last year Rafael Nadal and Roger Fed­erer turned back the hands of time and dom­i­nated ten­nis as they had done when they where young. But the re­turn of No­vak Djokovic spoilt this year’s jour­ney.

Af­ter the pair shared last year’s Grand Slams, win­ning two each, it seemed they would con­tinue with their dom­i­nance.

Nadal started this year at the top of the As­so­ci­a­tion of Ten­nis Pro­fes­sion­als (ATP) rank­ings; Fed­erer won his record 20th Grand Slam at the Aus­tralian Open.

At the age of 36 years and 173 days, Fed­erer be­came the sec­on­dold­est man to win a Grand Slam sin­gles ti­tle in the Open era af­ter Ken Rose­wall, who won the 1972 Aus­tralian Open at 37.

He was quoted on Ten­nis.com web­site say­ing: “I’ve won three Slams now in 12 months. I can’t be­lieve it my­self.” And there was no sign he was ready for his resur­gent run to stop. “I just have to keep a good sched­ule, stay hun­gry, then maybe good things can hap­pen. I don’t think age is an is­sue.”

Nadal later won the se­cond Grand Slam of the year tak­ing home his favourite French Open. It was the 32-year-old’s 11th Roland-Gar­ros ti­tle, mak­ing him the only player who has won a sin­gle Grand Slam more than any other player. In to­tal, he now has 17 Grand Slam ti­tles, three be­hind Fed­erer.

At this point Nadal and Fed­erer were ex­chang­ing po­si­tion one and two. But their suc­cess was turned up­side down when the Ser­bian started block­ing their way.

Af­ter re­cov­er­ing from an el­bow in­jury, Djokovic came to Wim­ble­don ranked out­side the top 20, but fought all the way to the fi­nal where he de­feated South Africa’s top-ranked Kevin An­der­son.

An­der­son had beaten Fed­erer in the quar­ter­fi­nals and played the se­cond-long­est Wim­ble­don match in the semi­fi­nal against Amer­i­can John Is­ner.

The match lasted six hours and 35 min­utes.

Djokovic beat his long-time ri­val Nadal in the semi­fi­nals.

The 14-time Grand Slam cham­pion went on to oust Fed­erer at the Cincin­nati Mas­ters to win the ti­tle. In the process he made his­tory by be­com­ing the first player to win all nine Mas­ters tour­na­ments.

Then he was world num­ber 10. Head­ing to the US Open in Au­gust, he was favourite to clinch the ti­tle that was won by Nadal the pre­vi­ous year. The Spaniard later re­tired in the semi­fi­nal from a knee in­jury while play­ing Ar­gen­tinian Juan Martín del Potro.

Then in the fi­nal Del Potro suc­cumbed to Djokovic, re­sult­ing in his third US ti­tle. The two Grand Slams of this year out of four were won by a man who played with an in­jury in the first half of the sea­son. NUMERO UNO No­vak Djokovic of Ser­bia fin­ished num­ber one

“If you told me in Feb­ru­ary this year when I got the surgery done that I’d win Wim­ble­don, the US Open and Cincin­nati, it would have been hard to be­lieve,” Djokovic said.

“But at the same time there was al­ways part of me that imag­ined and be­lieved and hoped that I could get back to the de­sired level of ten­nis very soon,” he told the New York Times af­ter the win.

This led Djokovic to climb to po­si­tion three in the ATP rank­ing.

At the Shang­hai Mas­ters he con­tin­ued his form reach­ing the fi­nal with­out drop­ping a set.

He won the tro­phy and leapfrogged Fed­erer, tak­ing his se­cond po­si­tion in the ATP rank­ing. Fed­erer had en­tered this tour­na­ment as the de­fend­ing cham­pion.

Nadal’s with­drawal at the yearend­ing ATP Fi­nals guar­an­teed Djokovic that he would fin­ish the year at the sum­mit of the rank­ings, although he lost to 21-year-old Alexan­der Zverev of Ger­many in the fi­nal last month in Lon­don.

So, in a nut­shell, this was Djokovic’s year. Let’s see what next year holds for him. Will he con­tinue to dom­i­nate? Will his two old foes re­cover their form or will a new name, such as An­der­son, dom­i­nate the head­lines?

Those ques­tions will be an­swered around this time next year.

PHOTO: CLIVE BRUNSKILL / GETTY IM­AGES

DOWN Roger Fed­erer failed to main­tain last year’s form

PHOTO: VAUGHN RI­D­LEY / GETTY IM­AGES

PHOTO: CLIVE BRUNSKILL / GETTY IM­AGES

SLIDE Rafael Nadal slipped down the rank­ings

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.