Wimbledon: Marat Safin shocks #3 Novak Djokovic, How Far Will He Go?

Max IasconeSenior Analyst IJune 25, 2008

When Novak Djokovic was asked about the recent struggles of Roger Federer, he had this to say in regards to tennis's best player:

"I think he's a little bit shaken with that loss (referring to the beatdown at the French Open administered by 2nd seed Rafael Nadal), and mentally he has been struggling in the last couple of months. New names are coming, fresh, talented players who believe more they can win against him, and I am one of them. Suddenly he is worried a little bit."

After saying this, Djokovic beat Germany's Michael Berrer, who is ranked 91st in the world, relatively easily, 7-5 2-6 6-3 6-0. However, Djokovic got off to a decidedly slow start during this match, allowing Berrer to take 5 games in the first set and cruise to an easy 2-6 victory in the second.

Djokovic settled down later in the match but his poor play early on would foreshadow an even poorer showing in the second round at Wimbledon.

Against Russian Marat Safin, Djokovic was ousted from Wimbledonin straight sets, 6-5 7-6 6-2. Djokovic struggled noticeably throughout the match and only managed to convert one break point.

The Serbian native also struggled with his serves and the windy weather en route to a whopping 10 double faults. Djokovic also committed 28 unforced errors during his straight set loss to the 75th ranked Safin.

It is highly ironic that Djokovic, who commented on the "mental struggles" of Roger Federer, was so succinctly defeated by a player like Safin, who is very well known for his mental instability and party boy tendencies.

Throughout his career, Safin has been a chronic underachiever. His amazing physical talent was often overshadowed by mental lapses on the court and incessant partying off of it.

Safin, who has shown flashes of brilliance throughout his career (His straight set win over Pete Sampras in the 2000 US Open and his Australian open win in 2005 come to mind), has been the Lamar Odom of men's tennis, a gifted athlete who, for whatever reason, just couldn't put it together.

However, after his impressive upset of Djokovic, Safin seems focused and ready to challenge Roger Federer, who has won Wimbledon  5 straight times, for a berth in the final, most likely against 2nd seeded Rafael Nadal.

When he was interviewed by the associated press, Safin seemed to be well grounded, even cautiously optimistic about his chances of continuing his already impressive run into the third round.

Said Safin "I've been lacking confidence but to beat Djokovic on Centre Court is a great victory"

He went on to say "Now, I'll have to check — the way I'm playing now, I could go far."

Safin’s seemingly average 75th in the world rankings is deceptive of his still impressive physical talents, and if the Russian native can maintain his focus, he has the natural abilities to play with any tennis player on the planet, even Nadal or Federer.