2011 French Open: Hugh Hudson, the Man Who Forgot How to Lose
Hugh Hudson could not have invented a more appropriate music film than the one of The Chariots of Fire.
It is the same one which could be heard all around the Foro Italico stadium in Rome last night as Novak Djokovic triumphed over Rafael Nadal for the fourth straight time.
The Serb keeps on winning as if he forgot how to lose.
The current World No. 2 has become a wall against anyone who dares to pass him.
It's almost as if Djokovic was running a marathon that would not stop.
On Sunday Djokovic claimed his seventh title of the season and 37th straight victory.
If Djokovic reaches the Roland Garros final, he will beat John McEnroe's record of 42 straight victories in one season.
On that occasion, McEnroe had to deal with the most difficult loss of his career when Ivan Lendl managed to come back from two sets and a break in the third to beat the American in the 1984 French Open final.
Don't tell Djokovic about one of McEnroe's most heartbroken moments of his career.
On Saturday, the Serb already had to deal with Andy Murray's groundstrokes as both men played one of the most memorable match of the season.
In a titanic battle that lasted three hours, Djokovic started the match as if he was playing a video game.
The second seed outplayed Murray in the first set, but then Murray fought back in the second with efficient first and second serves.
Then Djokovic started to show signs of fatigue for the first time this season in the third set, but did everything possible to turn things around.
The Serb even came within two points of defeat when Murray served for the match at 5-4 in the third set.
Both men played numerous breathtaking rallies, which lasted more than five strokes each.
However, the same man who previously won in Melbourne, Dubai, Indian Wells, Miami, Belgrade, and Madrid, showed heart to get over his fitness issues and win the match.
It would not be fair to forget Murray, who played the best clay court match of his career.
This match should boost him up when playing at Roland Garros next week.
How would Djokovic feel having to play Nadal the next day?
The answer was startling from the first point of the Championship match.
Of Course the Belgrade native welcomed the rain which delayed the match for three hours.
Nevertheless, playing Rafael Nadal under heavy conditions would not stop the World No. 2 from playing his best tennis.
Djokovic's movements and shots were on target, which led me to witness a balance of power.
Nadal's goundstrokes did not scare Djokovic anymore.
The World No. 2's footwork, return of serve, forehand and backhand have made him a complete player.
On the other side of the net, Nadal is not as good on the backhand side while the forehand is not fired as deep as it could be.
Also, Nadal fears Djokovic's return for good reasons and therefore does not serve as well as he can.
Consistency and extra depth is what Djokovic uses while working his return of serve, which changes the whole scenario of a point.
Djokovic's opponents are well aware that they need to serve as well as they can in order to avoid a bullet return, or losing the point after two strokes.
Djokovic is also very fit and now understands that he could last forever against a beast such as Nadal.
It's therefore Nadal's turn to find other ways to beat the Serb.
So far the World No. 1 has no solution as to how to get the best of Djokovic.
Can he find a new key at Roland Garros?
It's amazing how things have changed over the past two weeks.
Nadal was the overwhelming favorite to win Roland Garros before the start of Madrid, but not anymore, which will ultimately make Roland Garros as interesting as ever.
Can Djokovic cope with fatigue at one point in a best of five set format?
If the answer is no, Nadal will have to dig very deep to prevent Djokovic from winning the French.
Nadal is still however the favorite to beat anyone but Djokovic.
After all, Nadal has had a great season when he did not have to play the Serb.
In conclusion, it's difficult to see anyone but Djokovic and Nadal in the Roland Garros final.
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