We have a new champion

Jul 5, 2011

The men’s finals of Wimbledon 2011 is widely being touted as having ushered in a new era of tennis. The Roger/Rafa dominance has been broken. Now, a new wave is coming through, the ones that have been hanging onto their shirt tails for past several years. It started, I would argue, with del Potro winning the US Open back in 2009. And now, Novak Djokovic has pushed himself to that same level, and one better. He has won two grand slams this year, and lost only 1 match: now that record is almost as impressive as Roger and Rafa’s various achievements over the years.

Novak Djokovic’s dream time at the top would have been cemented even if he had lost in the finals. He was destined to become number one in the world after beating Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the semi finals. Beating Rafael Nadal was the icing on the cake that Djokovic had been dreaming about ever since he started playing tennis.

Djokovic dominated, much to everyone’s surprise, from the very beginning. His serve was on target, his backhands were blistering, and he targeted the lines with an accuracy down to the nearest millimetre. One of Djokovic’s most impressive elements to his game was his ability to keep Nadal at arm’s bay. The second stroke of brilliance was his ability to take whatever Nadal threw at him, and spin it back with an added extra flourish. Novak also succeeded in not letting Nadal’s history at Wimbledon get into his head. In fact, mentally, it was Djokovic that came to the match in the best frame of mind. He had beaten Rafa all year, he had a good record against him in recent history. He was brimming with confidence, and with the fantastic tennis he is hitting everything came together. That gluten-free diet seems to have given him a new body as well; he was athletic and positively acrobatic in some points.

The second set was, if anything, even better. Djokovic took is 6-1. And at this point, he may have started to taste the champagne and practice his acceptance speech. The third set was the only point at which Nole let Rafa in, and Nadal punished him for it. But when the fourth set came it was not nearly the battle that everyone was expecting. He took the entire match in two and a half hours, and splayed himself across the grass of Centre Court to celebrate. He seemed unable to believe it was truly happening; the very first tournament he watched as a young boy was the one he was now about to win.

In fact, to try to make himself accept reality, he bent down and picked some of the Centre Court grass for a good chew. Apparently this will be a new tradition he has started with this win; so he obviously plans to come back and repeat this accomplishment. The confidence seems ever-growing, so who knows. He just might.

As for Rafa and the others: there is a new champion in time. You might not believe those who see it as an ‘end of an era’, or a ‘the new dawn of tennis’. If Djokovic had only (‘only’) won Wimbledon, then I might be inclined to agree. But since he has also jumped to world number one, I am going to start rubbing my hands with glee at the idea of new rivalries and champions to come.

All I can say is: get me on a gluten-free diet.

Written by: SophieG

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