Novak Djokovic - Titles galore
Many of us fans thought the Roger Rafa rivalry was going to last a few more years but Novak had other ideas.
How can one describe the rise of Novak Djokovic to the top of ATP World Tour and as of now one the best Tennis players we have ever seen. From an early success at Australian Open in 2008, he had to wait till 2011 for his next major title. Those 3 years were of hard work, dedication and determination but what was missing from the Nole we all know now.
The self-belief and ability to bounce back and outplay The Champions – the likes of Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal. The stamina to combine with his natural agility was a miss-match which often resulted in mid-match collapses.
Those who were witnessing the tremendous Roger-Rafa rivalry over those years definitely noticed this young Serb who snatched the 2008 Australian Open title but for sure treated it as a mere aberration. For the next 3 years, their thoughts were justified because it was either Rafa or Roger who would eventually meet Novak at the business end of the majors to hand him a semi-final loss or at the most, a runner-up title.
All of that started changing since 2011. Novak began reigning at the top of the Tennis world, barring a few months of Roger Federer’s resurgence during the second half of 2012. The success story has been mostly attributed to the Gluten-free diet regime but I am not here to go deep into the diet part of it.
We should rather look at what amazing results we have witnessed post-2011.
It must be noticed that 2011 is the same year in which we witnessed Roger Federer going down without a single major to his credit since 2003. The entire tennis world was upset to see the Swiss Maestro beginning to fade away.
On the other hand, the tennis lovers all over the world were awestruck looking at the level to which Novak had lifted his game. A level beyond what we had ever witnessed till then.
The first half of 2011 saw Novak race to a 37-0 record and unsurprisingly the Serb ended the season with 3 majors in his bag. From a player with suspected fitness, he raised himself to the top of the world, becoming the greatest athlete in world tennis right now.
Stamina and strength combined with speed and flexibility, in an extraordinary way. It truly was a magical shift at the Top end of World rankings in Tennis. Many of us fans thought the Roger – Rafa rivalry was going to last a few more years but Novak had other ideas.
2012 Australian open saw the longest Grand slam final which lasted 5 hours and 53 minutes when finally a winner could emerge. A match that proved beyond doubts Novak’s mental and physical strength. He was, in more ways than one, proclaiming to the world that his best is yet to come.
We were enjoying a new style of play which in hindsight was a combination of Roger and Rafa. All rolled into one package – precision and power, finesse and fitness, agility and accuracy. Grass or Hard or Clay, he has the shots for every surface!
By the end of 2014, his major tally had raised to 7 which was normal by his standards but what followed since the start of 2015 has been breath taking. While dominating the previous champs convincingly, he made sure not to succumb to the challenges posed by emerging young players.
He made the 2015 season his own by winning 3 majors and finishing runner-up at French Open – the only major to have eluded him thus far.
What amazes his fans is how he remains consistent on the top at such a great level. 2016 has not been different. By winning 2016 Australian & French Opens, he currently holds all the four majors, only the 3rd player to do so.
Standing at 16950 ATP points after last week’s Roland Garros title, while Andy Murray, his nearest rival stands at just above half that much.
His place at top of the tennis world is now Iconic. Indeed, the Greatest we have witnessed so far. At this form, it is just a matter of time before he overhauls Rafa, Pete and Roger to be the player to win the most number of Grand slam titles. It is just a number but by all means he deserves it.
Wimbledon followed by the US Open at New York Flushing Meadows, history beckons!