Hi, folks. With 2015 drawing to a close it is once again time to look back at what happened in tennis this year. No doubt it’s been a one-man show aside from Wawrinka who won his second slam at the French Open with a brilliant display of offensive tennis. For me who became a serious Djokovic fan this year it has been my favorite tennis season as a tennis fan yet. For Fedfans, it’s been a mixed year because although Federer had his best season since 2012 he lost in two more slam finals to Djokovic and still couldn’t clinch #18. As for Nadal fans, it has been a very difficult year but it ended well for them because there is no doubt now that Nadal is back even though there hasn’t been any progress for him in solving the Djokovic puzzle. Finally, like Federer, Murray had a very consistent year but could not break through again on the big stage. It’s just very hard to do with someone as dominant as Djokovic around which puts some perspective over what Wawrinka achieved.
- Australian Open
So let’s take a look back at the biggest events of the season. First is the Australian Open where Djokovic started his unheard of domination. The first big news was Federer’s third round exit against Seppi in four sets. It was the first time since 2003 that Federer lost before the semi-finals in Melbourne. After an abysmal second half of 2014, Nadal lost in the quarterfinals to Berdych as his woes continued. Murray then defeated Berdych in the semis while Djokovic bageled Wawrinka in the fifth set in the top half semis.
In the final Murray did well to win the second set on a tiebreak after losing the first set by the same score but then Djokovic sprinted 6-3, 6-0 across the finish line to win a record fifth Australian Open title. Djokovic had become the undisputed hard court GOAT, especially after winning a third Indian Wells/Miami double in the North-American summer as well.
- French Open
With Nadal looking more vulnerable than ever the big question was whether he would be beaten only for a second time at the French this year. For the first year ever probably Nadal did not win a clay court event in the run-up to the French but Federer and many others still thought he was the favorite in Paris. I thought it was as good a year as any for Djokovic to finally defeat Nadal in Paris after losing their six previous meetings at the French. They were drawn to meet in the quarterfinals after Nadal had fallen out of the top four which was good for Djokovic. The only problem for Djokovic at the one slam he has never won before was that he had an absolutely brutal draw, having to face Nadal, Murray, and Wawrinka in succession to win the title.
So when Djokovic destroyed Nadal 7-5, 6-3, 6-1 it was a huge victory, but he still had a long way to go to bag that elusive French Open title. Murray was having his best clay court season ever and took Djokovic to five sets in the semis which had to be played over two days. This meant no rest day for Djokovic before a final with a rampant Wawrinka. The odds just didn’t favor him(as is usually the case at the cursed French) and he went down in four sets to a very deserving winner in the final. Wawrinka was a very gracious winner and the finals ceremony was an emotional one which brought Djokovic to tears. I felt Djokovic deserved the title after all the heartbreaks at this tournament over the years but it wasn’t to be and it was still a very entertaining tournament.
After what happened at the French, some people thought Djokovic would be negatively affected after yet another heartbreak in the French capital, but didn’t the same thing happen the previous year after which he won Wimbledon? If there is one thing that should be clear about Djokovic by now it is that he recovers very well from setbacks. He doesn’t dwell on the past. He did look vulnerable in the fourth round against Anderson, but as usual, he came through when it mattered. After that match, he was unleashed and only dropped one more set in the final against Federer before winning a third Wimbledon title. Federer was playing some incredible tennis himself straight-setting Murray in the semis in a devastating display of grass-court mastery.
So going into the final many people thought Federer would win, including me. I wanted Djokovic to win after what had happened at the French. I thought he did the dirty work of defeating Nadal but then got screwed over by the draw. So I was delighted to see him raise his game in the final to an unheard of level as he stunned the tennis world by defeating Federer in four sets this time. The previous year he defeated Federer in five sets, and this year Federer was playing better. This made this win all the more special. Djokovic’s partnership with Wimbledon legend Becker was paying huge dividends because Djokovic’s serve and overall attacking game had improved measurably and he was now a Wimbledon legend himself.
- US Open
Down to the final slam of 2015 and this was the big one for Djokovic, especially since Federer made the final as well. If Federer wins this final he surely ends any prayer of Djokovic still catching up to his slam count with Djokovic still stuck on only one US Open title. Similar to the French Open, the US Open had been a somewhat cursed slam for Djokovic because in five finals he’d only won one title. For someone of his hard court abilities, that just wasn’t good enough. If he still wanted to break the French Open curse he first had to break the lesser US Open curse. Winning a second US Open title was simply a must. This was it. Another US Open final loss would have been devastating, whereas the title would put him in double figures as far as slam titles were concerned. It would also give him a second three-slam title year. There was an immense amount at stake before the final with Federer and on top of that the final was delayed due to rain which meant that Djokovic had a drunk pro-Federer crowd to deal with as well. But let me revisit the semis just for a second before I continue with the final. Djokovic once again just did what needed to be done in the earlier rounds which some people mistook for poor form again.
But then in the semis, he put on a devastating display against Cilic destroying the defending champion 6-0, 6-1, 6-2. And yet despite that, many still thought Federer was the favorite after he had another convincing straight-set win over Wawrinka in the semis. As for myself, I had learned my lesson from Wimbledon and I called Djokovic the favorite. Yes, he had a rampant Federer, a rabid pro-Federer crowd, history, and Federer’s new-found SABR to deal with, but Djokovic is a special player. There is a certain inner calm about Djokovic which I have never seen on a tennis court before. Against ridiculous odds and a nerve-wrecking situation, he came away as the victor in four sets again. There is a monk-like centeredness from Djokovic which he surely cultivated through meditation, one of his many practices to help improve his game. I think one day Djokovic will look back on this victory as a watershed moment in his career. There is no doubt in my mind about that.
- World Tour Finals
Down to the grand finale of the season and with Djokovic winning Shanghai and Paris as well he was now on track to topple Federer’s best ever 2006 season. He still had to win the World Tour Finals, however. It is the fifth biggest event of the year and no tennis season would be perfect without it. So even though Djokovic had already chalked up one of the best tennis seasons ever, there was still much left to play for. Federer was still looking for revenge after Wimbledon and the US Open and the indoor courts in London would help his case. The Federer hype had also started again especially after Federer defeated Djokovic 7-5, 6-2, in the group stages.
I didn’t take that result seriously for a second and Djokovic made a statement when he destroyed Nadal 6-3, 6-3 in the semis. Federer then defeated Wawrinka in straight sets as well which meant the Federer hype train was in full flow again. And for the third time since Wimbledon Djokovic brought the hype train to a crashing halt when he routined Federer 6-3, 6-4 in the final. It was another big statement from the Serbian. He had defeated his two biggest rivals in succession and made it look easy in the process. He was the untouchable and undisputed king of 2015. No one came close.
- A 2016 Tennis Season Preview
If you want a closer look at how Djokovic chalked up the greatest tennis season in modern times then you should take a look at this
post of mine. As a fan of Djokovic it was a very enjoyable and inspiring season for me and if you are not a fan then it probably wasn’t. If you fall under the latter then I’m sure you want to see things change in 2016. I wouldn’t get my hopes up too high of that happening, though. It’s hard to see Djokovic top his 2015 season unless he wins the calendar slam. That is always a difficult task, but I don’t think it is entirely out of the question that Djokovic can complete the Djokovic slam since he won Wimbledon and the US Open and his favorite slam is coming up. I also have a feeling 2016 may just be the year for him at the French after he broke the semi-curse of the US Open this year. I don’t think Nadal will beat Djokovic again at the French and it’s doubtful that Wawrinka will go on another run like he did this year.
But most importantly it is very unlikely that Djokovic will get another draw like he did this year. So I can see Djokovic winning in Melbourne again and then possibly completing the Djokovic slam at the French. Given that neither Federer nor Nadal achieved that feat, it tells you how difficult it is to do, though. Or maybe Djokovic will lose the Australian Open but finally, bag the French. Who knows. It sure is going to be interesting to find out. I just don’t see many guys who can challenge him right now. At the World Tour Finals Djokovic made another big statement against Fedal as if to say I own you both now and you are never beating me again in an important match. Djokovic also owns Murray and is close to owning Stan. I think Djokovic did the right thing by skipping that stupid IPTL tennis. The first half of 2016 will be especially important for him so he needs to be well rested and ready to go. Can’t wait to see how it all unfolds!
- A Holiday Message
I just want wish everyone a happy holiday season and a blessed new year. Thank you for all the support of my blog throughout the year. I am sorry for the ones who thinks tennis has become boring due to Djokovic’s dominance, but I can’t say that I have much sympathy for the ones who are so obsessed over one player that they can only enjoy tennis when that player is winning everything.
That is not what being a tennis fan is about. That is something else called celebrity worship. Like everything else tennis is always changing and evolving and if you get stuck on any one player you get left behind. So I hope the ones that haven’t moved on yet can do so in 2016 and appreciate Djokovic or at least, tennis, for what it is. The
is in your court.