I wasn’t too optimistic about Djokovic’s chances in my last post, but at least I rightly predicted that Nadal would not sweep the clay court season. It is strange though that Djokovic struggles with Ferrer and Belucci but beat Nadal relatively easy, isn’t it? I guess Djokovic has really grown mentally. He seems to leave his best for the most important moment. I don’t particularly like Djokovic myself, but just for today I love him. He is not just doing Fedfans a huge favor, but tennis in general. First of all he is the first guy that is truly standing up to Nadal. As a Fedfan, I have to respect that a lot. Roger has stood up to Nadal in the past, but unfortunately they played a lot on clay, Roger’s worst surface. Also, Roger’s backhand is not his best shot, and Nadal has relentlessly exposed it on clay especially.
Enter Djokovic, a guy with an incredible double handed backhand and unheard of movement on that side too. This Djokovic is Nadal’s nemesis. Nadal is so used to being able to pummel the backhands of right handers to death, that he had no answer for Djokovic today. He kept doing the only thing he knew, which is to hit that forehand cross court to the right handers backhand, but Djokovic was rock solid on the side. That is such an incredible shot that you would have a case for calling Djokovic’s backhand a better shot than Nadal’s forehand. It certainly was today. I know a lot of Fedfans find this kind of baseline tennis boring, but for me personally it’s quite exciting. It’s exciting for me to see anyone beat Nadal. Period. Up to this point there has been no one in the game who could beat Nadal on his own terms.
Del Potro has done it three times on hard court, but Djokovic have done so two times in a hard court Master Series final and now on Nadal’s beloved clay as well. This is just highly impressive stuff from Djokovic. He simply makes it impossible for Nadal to play his relentless topspin shots and dominate proceedings. He takes the ball early and hits it deep and hard. Therefor Nadal doesn’t have the time to really get on top of rallies and get his man on a string as it were. I mean it’s beautiful to see Nadal being the one under pressure for a change. Especially on clay. Djokovic was up 4-0 in the first set and could have won that set even easier. But it was amazing to see how he held serve to love at 5-5 and then break Nadal to love in the next game. And this was with a fanatical Madrid crowd behind Nadal.
I think Fedfans should try to appreciate Djokovic, if only for the fact that he may be the one thing that stands between Nadal becoming the GOAT in terms of slam titles won. I think he has shown by now that he will be a thorn in Nadal’s side in his quest to become the GOAT. To beat Nadal in three straight MS finals is pretty damn impressive, especially the one today. What is funny to me is that both Djokovic and Roger has done better against Nadal in Madrid than in Miami, which shows to me how ridiculously slow some of the hard court have become these days. I am now almost convinced that Madrid played faster than Miami. But whatever the court surface may be, Djokovic is now a thorn in Nadal’s side. I wouldn’t even be surprised if he can defeat Nadal in Rome and Paris now. This is truly a great thing for tennis, and for clay court tennis in particular.
Djokovic has effectively saved the clay court season today. It was all Nadal up until this point, but Djokovic is a real threat now. Seriously, who wants to see Nadal win another French Open title without even being tested? Now you have a guy there who can potentially beat him. At least it will be interesting now. As for Roger, we have to admit that he is for once the third best clay courter on tour. Djokovic and Nadal is still in their own league. I don’t mind much either. Roger is past his prime and the most important thing from here on is that Nadal does not break his slam record. If Djokovic keeps this level up it is hard to see Nadal ever break Roger’s slam record. It is crucial that Nadal has a real rival from here on, just like Roger had Nadal. Or else he will just run away with all the slams and cruise past Roger’s slam record.
Of course Djokovic has to lose at some point, but you have to believe that he is now a more mature player and can keep a similar level up for years to come. That should be enough to keep Nadal from winning the most slams. And it’s not impossible that Roger may add one or two more slams to his own resume either…