It has been awhile, seems like many years, since we have seen a player who can come up with the winning strategy against Rafael Nadal. I say “the” and not “a” because the strategy is pretty clear….Don’t get into long rallies, go for winners, keep the points short, big first serves. Very few players have been able to do this (virtually none the last few years). Two early losses at the US Open, one to James Blake and one to Tomas Berdych, were the textbook examples of how to beat Nadal but as he raised his game on every level nobody could execute.
Novak Djokvic painted the lines, blasted winners, took control of most of the rallies, and introduced a unique and potentially troubling (for Nadal) twist-He went after the Nadal forehand worrying it the way a dog worries a bone.
Some other Wimbledon thoughts….
1.) The #1 ranking is also Djokovic’s. This ascension is a long time coming. It was after the 2007 US Open final, Djoko’s first grand slam final that he lost to Federer, that people were saying it was no longer a two man race now a three man race at the top which was confirmed by Djoko’s Australian Open win a few months later. After that though, whether it was due to loss of fitness, problems with his racket, changing his service motion or any number of reasons, Djoko couldn’t capitalize. He still maintained a high ranking but couldn’t break the Federer-Nadal hold on grand slams. That’s all in the past now-Greatness confirmed!
2.) I’ve completely lost interest in women’s tennis. There was a time in the late 80’s and early 90’s where women’s tennis was equal to or more interesting than men’s tennis. The Navaratilova-Graf then Graf-Seles rivalry was fantastic and produced great tennis. However, watching the uncouth no class Williams Sisters bash their opponents or some non entity win a tournament and then is never heard from again is no fun. Maria Sharapova’s error ridden loss in the Wimbledon women’s was not high level tennis.
3.) There are always people lining up to catalog the decline of Roger Federer. He is 29 years old almost 30 an old man in tennis years. Only Andre Agassi in recent years (and Jimmy Connors before that) had steady success past 30. Newsflash! he’s growing old. When you look at what Federer, the greatest player ever in men’s tennis, has accomplished and how unparalleled these accomplishments are, you realize these people are idiots.
4.) I used to not like Nadal partly because I questioned his use of illegal musclebuilding drugs and partly because I think he practices a sort of passive aggressive gamesmanship (Taking a long time between serves, injury timeouts at key points etc.) However, all that changed once he won all four grand slams which seemed to herald a more mature Nadal. This Wimbledon though he seemed to revert back to his old ways. In particular, the issue about his foot. Sorry I just don’t believe it especially after watching him run around during the final. All this talk of a foot injury was just a mind f*ck.
5.) Very simply put, Andy Murray does not have the mindset of a champion. Until he gets that, he will never win a grand slam.
6.) Despite his loss in the fourth round to Nadal, I still think that, assuming his body stays healthy, Juan Martin Del Potro has the potential to be a great champion and win a few more grand slams.
Now onto the hard court season and let’s see if Djoko can extend his 50-1 record (not to mention winning the US Open).