This Comeback is No Djoke

Novak Djokovic has announced that he’s back from his slump by beating David Ferrer in the final of Dubai 7-5, 6-3 today. I call it a slump because we just havn’t seen the same Djokovic in 2009 then we have seen before. Some people are of the opinion the slump started at Wimbledon last year but I think we need to give him more credit then that. He still made a Master’s series final, a grand slam semi-final and won the Masters Cup after that. So I feel calling that a slump is a little harsh on the Serbian Ace…i mean Djoker :-) Being a member of the big three unfortunately comes with high expectations. And since the start of 2009 one can’t be blamed for feeling like these expectations have been taking it’s toll on Djokovic.

Being a part of the big three nothing less then the very best is expected from you. And rightly so, it is after all an honour to be in the company of the the greatest tennis player of all time and the greatest clay courter of all time. So it’s understandable that Nole’s attitude up until Dubai didn’t sit well with some tennis fans. When you party it up while your opponents are sweating it out over the off season and you back that up with a disappointing title defense at the Australian Open you shouldn’t be surprised when people start losing faith in you.  But the Djoker had an ace up his sleeve, he would once again show his undeniable quality by winning an important tournament. OK so he didn’t have to face any of the top four, correction he had to face himself!!!

Facing his own demons to me is more of a victory then facing any of the top four. For once Djokovic has shown that he has heart. Already in the second round he looked out of sorts, scraping through in three tough sets against the number 66 player in the world. This was the Djokovic we have seen so far this year, lacking the confidence and dominance we have seen in previous years from him. But importantly he won that match, which is all that matters in the end. In the next round he came up against one of the form players of the year in Marin Cilic. Granted Cilic wans’t at his best against Djokovic but the 6-3, 6-4 victory was a sign that the Djoker might be starting to find some form finally. Beating Giles Simon who is also a top ten player 3-6, 7-5, 7-5 in the semi-finals was confirmation of that.

It wasn’t all smooth sailing though, as the score would suggest. In the first set Djokovic looked completely out of sorts again, uncharacteristically missing his usually reliable forehand on countless occasions. Once again the Djoker dug deep and showed heart in soaring temperatures. What happens when a player comes through a tough match is that they gain confidence, it shows them that they can trust themselves to come through the tough moments. So it was hardly a surprise when Djokovic stepped on the court with David Ferrer, another player who has been gaining a lot of confidence, and basically wiped him off the court. This was the Djoker we know, the Djoker who can hit that lethal forehand with consistency and accuracy.

When the Djoker is in full flow he is not just a forehand though, anything but. He is one of the most complete players on tour, if not the most complete. This is why he can hang with the best of them and perform well on all surfaces. The fact that so many of the top players did not show up for Dubai will take some shine off of his victory, but taking into account the heart that he has shown in Dubai and the way he won I think it’s safe to say the Djoker is back. Of course the next big test will be another title defense at the Masters Series event in Indian Wells, but I have no doubt that he is ready for it. He couldn’t have had better preparation for it then by winning in Dubai. Tennis needs the Djoker and so does the big three. Welcome back Nole!

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