Tennis Bytes: Nadal Steals Djokovic's Thunder, Wozniacki's Nightmare Continues

Linus FernandesAnalyst IIFebruary 28, 2011

Novak Djokovic: Operation Desert Storm successful
Novak Djokovic: Operation Desert Storm successfulMark Dadswell/Getty Images

Novak Djokovic might have secured a much cherished win at the Dubai Duty Free Championships—with another convincing victory over Roger Federer—but it was the World No. 1 Rafael Nadal who stole the headlines over the weekend.

The Spaniard declared that the dominance Federer and he established over the majors—a stranglehold of 21 wins since 2005—is a thing of the past. Nadal reiterated that credit for the duopoly should go to the great Swiss without whom his nine Slams would ring hollow.

Nadal said: “In 2005, 2006 and 2007, perhaps you could say there was a bit of a monopoly, but it was down to Federer. I was also there, but a little less. For sure I think this monopoly ended some time ago. There are many players ready to challenge now.”

Nadal validated Jo-Wilfried Tsonga’s statement of a fortnight ago that the best of the Nadal-Federer rivalry is well and truly over.

While the Dubai sun shone brightly on Djokovic’s ascendance, former US Open winner Juan Martin Del Potro sounded out a warning to his rivals that he will not be pushed aside by his injuries and subsequent layoff.

The Argentine won his first title since his 2009 US Open win against Roger Federer. He beat Serbian Janko Tipsarevic 6-4, 6-4 at the Delray Beach International Tennis Championships on Sunday, the 27th of February, 2011.

Kei Nishikori demonstrated that he is well on his way to fulfilling his potential making his way to the semis in DelRay, losing to Tipsarevic 4-6, 4-6.

In Acapulco, Mexico, two Spaniards fittingly battled each other to decide who would be conquistador at Abierto Mexicano Telcel. It was the Australian Open semi-finalist David Ferrer who wound up victorious, beating compatriot Nicolas Almagro 6(4), 6-7(2), 6-2.

This was Ferrer’s second win in Mexico, successfully defending his 2010 title.

Ferrer knocked out Ukrainian Alexsandr Dolgopolov—a surprise 2011 Australian Open quarterfinalist—in the semi-finals 5-7, 6-1, 6-1.

Caroline Wozniacki’s nightmare against freely hitting opponents never seems to end.

It was Vera Zvonareva who did for her at the 2010 US Open and Li Na at the Australian Open this year.

It was the Russian again on Sunday who put paid to her aspirations of a "Desert Double" at Doha, defeating the Dane 6-4, 6-4.

Wozniacki clinched the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships the previous weekend.

In Acapulco, Mexico, another Spaniard bit the red clay when Arantxa Parra Santonja succumbed to Argentine Gisela Dulko at the Abierto Mexicano Telcel 3-6, (5)6-7.

Dulko is the first Argentine woman to clinch the title.

Li Na believes that her fine show at the Australian Open is not to be dwelled upon. The dawn of the Chinese New Year means that her loss to Kim Clijsters is behind her and she looks forward to an exciting New Year.

She said: “For me, it is history. The Chinese New Year was on the third of February, which means right now it’s the start of the New Year."

The spotlight will shift to the Davis Cup this weekend. The team championship is either jinxed or a victim of players' disinterest.

No less than six top flight players withdrew from the first round of Davis Cup scheduled to be played this weekend beginning Friday, the 4th of March.

Radek Stepanek pulled out of the Czech Republic’s tie against Kazakhstan because of flu.

France’s prospects of moving ahead in the World Group were hit badly with Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Gael Monfils and Richard Gasquet making themselves unavailable for the crucial tie against Austria.

Russia, too, are adversely affected by the retirement of Mikhail Youzhny from the Davis Cup and Nikolay Davydenko skipping the tie against Sweden to prepare for the Masters Series tournament in Indian Wells.

For India, it will be do-or-die against Serbia in Novi Sad. Somdev Devvarman and Rohan Bopanna will shoulder singles duty and champion pair Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi doubles. The Serbs consist of Novak Djokovic, Viktor Troicki, Janko Tipsarevic and Nenad Zimonjic.

India’s chances brightened somewhat with the Serbian No. 1 yet undecided whether to play the tie following his epic triumph against the Swiss No. 1.

Djokovic’s absence does not ensure any easy matches for the Indians.

For Somdev, it will be yet another chance to take on a top three player in two weeks, if Djokovic plays. The Indian lost to Roger Federer in straight sets at the Dubai championships the beginning of last week.

Will he fare better against the Swiss’ conqueror?

Mahesh Bhupathi will be hoping that his honeymoon extends to India’s chances in their crucial Davis Cup tie. The doubles specialist tied the knot with Bollywood actor, Lara Dutta, on the 16th of February, 2011 in Mumbai. The reception was held in Goa on the 19th of February.

This is Bhupathi’s second innings. He was previously wed to Shvetha Jaishankar, who incidentally remarried on the 21st of this month.

Rumours that Roger Federer and Martina Navratilova would attend Bhupathi’s wedding proved unfounded.

Quote of the day: 
I think computer viruses should count as life. I think it says something about human nature that the only form of life we have created so far is purely destructive. We’ve created life in our own image. – Stephen Hawking