Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal had seemingly very similar route into this year’s French Open finals. I say ‘seemingly’ because the score lines were roughly the same – straight sets victory with comfortable numbers – but the opponents couldn’t be more different. Rafael Nadal’s victory was always predictable against David Ferrer. This is not an insult to the other Spaniard, but an acceptance of the fact that Nadal is just simply brilliant, particularly at Rolland Garros.
Djokovic’s opponent was Roger Federer, a man whose very name has become the stuff of legends. Like a mythic beast of a fairytale he has dominated the Land Of Tennis for so many years that we as his loyal subjects have got used to him being there. So him being beaten by Novak Djokovic – a constant in the top 5 for a number of years sure but no Federer – was still something of a ‘what if’ or a ‘maybe’.
Turns out, Novak didn’t find it too hard. A debate about what this means for Federer will be relegated to its own post, but for now lets just praise the player that Djokovic has become. No longer the doormat for the top two players in the world, he has surpassed Andy Murray and the others who cling onto Roger and Rafa’s coat tails and reached the world number one spot.
Djokovic’s flexibility, fitness and finesse of shots won the day against Federer in this semi final. These are usually adjectives researched for the Swiss player, but today the Serb won the platitudes. He was everywhere at the base line, always behind the shots, always there to hit the sweet spot. Novak deflected Federer’s aggressive shots and used it to raise his game, a really dangerous weapon that Nadal will have to watch out for.
Tomorrow, he meets the King of Clay in a dream finals match up. If he were to win, it would be a career grand slam for him, his second grand slam of the year, and the first time he has really excelled on clay. Whoever you support – whether it’s the old guard or the new – it’ll be a match to enjoy.Written by:
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