Many viewers who followed this year's first major final have been stunned to watch Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal upset before the final. This was only the second final in 23 majors that both world number one and two are missing.
Instead, we had the world number three taking on Andy Murray, with Novak Djokovic claiming his second Australian Open title—his second career Grand Slam, and at the same time allowing Fred Perry to wait a little longer before having a successor. Is Novak Djokovic about to take over the top of the standings? Is it the end of the Federer and Nadal domination?
Djokovic at the peak of his game
Fred Perry was the most recent British winner of a major, the U.S. Open, and that was back in 1936.
Novak Djokovic just grabbed his second Aussie title becoming the first Serb to win one Davis Cup and two Grand Slams. Let's give credit to the world number three for having beaten Berdych, Federer and Murray without dropping a set.
However, I hate when some in the media rush too fast in their judgment. All of a sudden, Roger and Rafa have been dumped out of a Grand Slam, which proves it is the end of their era. Please!
How many times have we seen reporters wishing to bring an end to the McEnroe-Connors era, then the Agassi-Sampras era. Now it's Federer and Nadal's turn to take on the beating.
Of course the time will come when the Swiss says no more and when the Spaniard can't go on anymore due to many injuries. However this time is yet to come!
Nevertheless, it is fair to admit the gap is shrinking between Federer, Nadal and Djokovic.
Then there's the followers group with Murray and Söderling and the rest of the field.
The first five games of the Australian Open final were amazing. Both players were playing out incredible points with big angles, driving each other off the court in double-digit rallies that had the crowd gasping. But it was usually Novak who made the last save. He was protecting his serve, losing only eight points in the first two sets.
"We had unbelievable points,” said Murray. Indeed. Running, slugging, seldom coming to the net, they fought a 15 minute second game to get warmed up, then were off to the races, Novak’s retrieving giving him the edge. When he won the first set, he had the taste, and took over on a seven game run to 5-0 in the second.
Nole is on the top of his game at the moment. He won the Davis Cup for Serbia, knocked off Federer in straight sets in the Aussie semifinals where Murray beat David Ferrer.
He said, “Davis Cup was so important for my confidence, to do something for my country, not for me. We are trying to restore respect in our country, and I think the Davis Cup, being the world champions helped.”
Is Djokovic the coming king? He looked it on the blue asphalt. He did admit having been confused after hiring two coaches, longtime Marian Vajda and for a while American Todd Martin. It did not work. He said, “Todd is excellent but I was going two different ways. Marian will always be with me.”
So the much desired Federer-Nadal final did not materialize. Roger went home with his psyche dented by Djokovic, who also defeated him (from two match points down) in the last US Open semis. Rafa is nursing a pulled, possibly torn left hamstring that knocked him out against Ferrer. Once again, it’s too soon to select assisted living places for them, but the serfs are getting restless.
The amazingly gifted Murray
Meanwhile, The Scot will have to wait until Roland Garros to shoot for that elusive major.
Andy has been hampered by playing in the shadow of the two giants, and the extra confidence that would come from winning a first Grand Slam would transform his career.
The fifth seed is amazingly gifted, able to pull off shots and movements that are unique in the game. He can play some magical tennis, and that will give him a huge advantage because he knows he has the ability to turn a match around. At any given moment he knows he is capable of transforming a match with four outstanding shots.
Furthermore, his game has more variety. He can hurt his opponent at any time with a single shot, and he can speed up the game like no one else—especially on his backhand.
But the only major hurdle comes when he needs to choose the right shot in order to make the difference in key points during majors against Nadal, Federer and Djokovic.
Nadal will be back
The world number one has had to deal with flue and a hamstring injury to kick off the season. As soon as his health will be at his peak, so will his game.
The fact that he could not contest at his best in order to win his fourth successive major will hurt him in a positive way. He will use this injury to work even harder and take out his frustration against his future opponents.
What's next for Federer
Roger is still playing at a very high level, which is good news for the tennis world. Nevertheless, the Swiss is only relying on his natural talent and, unfortunately for him, it's not enough anymore against players such as Nadal, Murray and Södering.
Overall, what hurts him the most right now is his focus quality, the duration he's able to keep this focus while playing a match under pressure.
Federer had ups and downs against Djokovic in the semi-final, but also during many other matches. It's not rare either to see him getting the break, serving for the set and being unable to close it out because he totally messed his service game. He allows his opponent to come back.
Talking about new kids taking power seems to be inappropriate to me for several reasons.
Roger is still playing great, and he showed it at the end of 2010 and at the start of 2011.
The Swiss is healthy. We know he struggles a lot with his back, even though he doesn't talk about it a lot. He's now free from this and can play with his full physical abilities, which are a key point of his game.
If he's going to continue playing the way that his coach Paul Annacone wants him too, he's going to keep on believing in his chances to win several more Grand Slams.
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