Hello friends! I enjoyed your participation in and enthusiasm for my new blog so much last week that I decided to make another post just to keep some of that momentum going. Of course, not everyone have shared the Djokovic love on my blog of late which I respect. But in no way is it affecting the enjoyment the rest of us are getting out of watching Djokovic repeatedly schooling Roger’s nemesis. Being a fan of the Djoker now is a natural progression and direction by blog has taken after it used to be predominantly about Roger.
And that is what I want to explain in this post. As far as I’m concerned in the last 10+ years the tennis world have revolved around Federer, Nadal, and Djokovic. Thay are collectively known as The Big Three. Murray has made a name for himself and added himself to the group which became The Big Four, but as far as I’m concerned The Big Three are in a league of their own. There is a certain dynamic between The Big Three which fascinates me and which I want to talk about in this post.
- Roger Federer: Mr. PeRFect
As most of you would know my blog used to be known as Ru-an’s Federer Blog. But my love affair with tennis started a long time before Federer came on the scene and I had favorites since the 80’s. More recently I was a fan of Sampras, after which I switched to his biggest rival Agassi when I got bored of Sampras’ dominance and personality. He was mostly beating Agassi in the most important matches, a lot like Nadal does against Federer. So no one can ever accuse me of being a glory hunter.
I cheer for whoever I find the most interesting and enjoyable to watch at the time. It is certainly not all about winning. I like when the player wins a lot. Who wants to be a fan of a player who loses all the time? But playing style and personality is just as important. I always liked Federer’s playing style. His attacking style, one-handed backhand, raw talent, and personality were some reasons I became an instant fan. He was like the ideal combination of Sampras and Agassi.
An attacking, dominant game with a one-handed backhand, but with a more interesting personality than Sampras. He was also more complete than Sampras because he had a better baseline game that could adjust much better to clay than Sampras could. He was just perfect in every way basically. Very few flaws or weaknesses. So it is no wonder really that I never got tired of being his fan, the way I did with Sampras. To this day at age 33 he is an inspiration and joy to watch.
- Rafael Nadal: The Cure
It wasn’t until Nadal joined the party during Federer’s prime that Federer showed any vulnerability at all. Before Nadal really made his mark on the sport Federer was pretty much an untouchable tennis god. In fact, Nadal’s rise was a blessing in many ways because it prevented Federer from becoming boring the way Sampras did with his domination. He exposed the slightest of weaknesses in Federer’s game which up until that point appeared to be flawless.
I still think Roger is probably the most complete tennis player ever, but even the most complete player will have weaknesses that can be exploited under the right conditions. Nadal did just that with his heavy topspin left-handed forehand to Federer’s one-handed backhand. That play coupled with Federer’s slightest of mental fragility got exploited to the max by the mental giant Nadal, which resulted in Nadal gaining the upper hand in the head-to-head and ultimately dominating it.
This doesn’t mean Federer is flawed. He is still the most complete player I ever saw and probably the greatest off all time. It simply means his weaknesses, which are very small, got exposed and exploited by someone who has a matchup advantage over him. So personally I don’t think that counts very strongly against him in the GOAT debate. There are more reasons why the head-to-head doesn’t carry much significance in the GOAT debate which I won’t get into now.
- Novak Djokovic: The Djoker
There is always a joker in the pack. A trump card if you will. Where Federer could not succeed, the Djoker has. With one of the best two-handed backhands the sport has ever seen, as well as a mental strength to match Nadal’s, Nadal has not been able to exploit Djokovic the way he has Federer. Add to that some of the best returns of serve the sport has ever seen and Djokovic had the ability to be Nadal’s nemesis. He has succeeded in every area that Federer failed.
Where Federer’s backhand broke down under a relentless barrage of heavy topspin forehands, Djokovic’s backhand remained rock solid and then some. Where Federer failed to put Nadal away when he had him against the ropes(most notably in the third set of the 2009 Australian Open final), Djokovic had the killer instinct to bury Nadal when the opportunity presented itself. Where Federer hesitated, Djokovic went in for the kill like a cold-blooded assassin.
Ru-an’s Federer Blog was never a temple which was created where we all could worship a deity called Roger Federer. Admittedly there was a lot of praise for him, but there was probably just as much criticism. My previous blog was always about what went on at the top of the men’s game, but the title of my blog seemed to mislead some people. So I changed my blog’s title, and now there should be no more confusion. I like each of The Big Three, even Nadal. I like him in the sense that I love to hate him.
- The Fedalovic Dynamic
The Fedalovic dynamic is pretty much what tennis is about for me. Clearly I like other players too and follow the sport as a whole, but The Big Three is what really fascinates me and keeps me interested. As always I am a big Fedfan but Djokovic is the one of the big three that is featuring most right now so most of my focus is on him. Fedfans are quite sensitive and think I have forgotten about Roger now, even though he lost in the third round of Monte Carlo and there was nothing left to write about him.
Relax Fedfans, when Instanbul comes around I will write about Roger again. I have not forgotten about him. Like I already said, Roger is still a big inspiration the way he is playing at 33 and he can even win another slam at Wimbledon this year. But for now the focus is on Djokovic who is having another incredible season. If people only care about Roger and not what is going on in the rest of the sport then that is something else called celebrity worship, and my blog has never been about that.
I love this whole Fedalovic dynamic and how the Djoker is now succeeding where Roger failed. I love how Nadal is now tasting what it is like when someone can expose your weaknesses and really get under your skin. Djokovic’s game is also a fresh change up to me from Roger’s predominantly attacking game, dominated by a serve and a forehand. Roger’s slight flaws, his backhand, returns of serve, and lack of killer instinct, are the Djoker’s strengths. How much more interesting can this get?
A perfect illustration of the current Fedalovic dynamic. Get it?
And how long can people keep worshiping the same player? Not only is Djokovic’s game a fresh change up, but so is his personality. He is a character with a great sense of humor, where Federer was more the exemplary guy with the ‘ideal’ personality. For me, who is not exactly the conventional type, that has its downfalls. I just love it when Djokovic curses the crowd or smashes his racquet in anger. It is more interesting and entertaining than Roger’s squeaky clean image.
Not that I have a problem with Roger’s personality, but like I said I like change and freshness. I also identify with the Djoker’s background and inner strength more than I do with Roger’s. I happen to have had a very challenging past and it has given me a certain inner strength. Djokovic also suffered growing up as a Serbian national, and pulling through it has helped him gain the strength needed to defeat a mental monster like Nadal. He doesn’t mind getting in Nadal’s face and he doesn’t fear Nadal in any way.
This is refreshing because Roger often just caved in mentally under Nadal’s relentless physical and psychological onslaught. He wasn’t mentally strong enough to stay in the moment when Nadal made an unbelievable defensive play. He got spooked and lost focus. So I guess you can say Djokovic is also very complete, because where Roger had some flaws he has strengths, and the rest of his game is pretty damn good too. There is no telling how much more he can achieve in the game.
The is in your court.