The Tennis Triumvirate: Djokovic, Nadal and Federer.
The year 2017 was all about comeback trail of Rafael Nadal and Rodger Federer. For Novak Djokovic, the year was all about injuries and turmoil. The year changed, but his fortune didn’t: an early exit at the Australian Open was followed by an elbow surgery in February. French Open was no difference –here too, he lost in the quarterfinal. Throughout the first half of the year, Novak’s demeanor reflected frustration and resignation; eyes looked full of uncertainty and his face nostalgic of his prime past. He must have realized, coming back from injury is not only abstruse but can be esoteric at times.
At Wimbledon, he looked invigorating and resuscitated: his forehand looked lethal again, the defense was impregnable and he moved with precision and agility. Rodger Federer, here too, lost early. Once he got better of resilient Rafael Nadal in a marathon match in the semi-final, there was no stopping him. He claimed the Wimbledon title by defeating the doughty, but tired, Anderson; he tasted the grass for the 4th time in his career.
At the US open no one really challenged Novak Djokovic. He, once again, looked sublime: imperious with his short making, the movement was measured with purposeful intent throughout the tournament.
After the victory, an elated Djokovic showered praise on both Rafael Nadal and Rodger Federer: “Maybe 10 years ago I would say I’m not happy to be part of this era with Rafael Nadal and Rodger Federer. Today I really am. I feel these guys and rivalries with these guys have made me into the player I am, have shaped me into the player I am today. I owe it to them.”
The mutual admiration and respect, these three legends have displayed for each other is remarkable. In the last decade and a half, the triumvirate has dominated the sport of tennis. These legends have mesmerized us with their bravura; their achievements have surpassed our imagination. Over the years, these legends feed off each other’s success and established new benchmarks. All three had their share of their injuries and despondency. But they have come back stronger than ever, setting all speculation and presumptions to rest. The rivalry has been re-ignited for few more years. There is still some daylight between these three and the players challenging them.
In the last two years, no other player, apart from these three has won the grand slams title. The race for highest grand slam has become interesting after the resurgent of Novak Djokovic. For Rodger Federer, the eldest of the three, it’s a matter of time now. He is racing against time, the race, which he is likely to lose- as everybody does against time. On the other hand, Rafael Nadal, as usual, has to fight against his body. How long his body will sustain, only time will tell. Novak Djokovic, the youngest of the lot is likely to outrival every one. And as he said: “I owe it to Rodger Federer, Rafael Nadal.” Indeed he does and he will. Tennis was always beautiful, but never so rich.