Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Djokovic's Modest Streak Now at 1

Novak Djokovic may be under the radar at Wimbledon. If he keeps playing like he did today, he won't be for long.

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Novak Djokovic is through to the 2nd round at Wimbledon. Surprised?

Of course you aren't, but here's a better question: Will you be surprised if Nole wins Wimbledon?

Some of the most thought-provoking questions regarding the eventual men's singles champion coming into Wimbledon were about Nole. He had been the focal point of the 2011 season, but after he got banished from the French Open (to an arch rival no less) before he could break the record for tennis's longest winning streak, Djokovic suddenly became an afterthought.

We wondered: Was the streak a fluke? How would Djokovic react to losing a match, especially one as important as the one he lost? And finally, how he would Nole react to playing a grass court major with no recent matches on the surface?

One minute Nole was the best thing since sliced tennis balls, the next he was the guy who tried to rule the world, but fell just short when he had the chance to take the crown.

Two weeks later we are here at the 125th Wimbledon Championships, trying to make sense of it all. The hallowed lawns of Wimbledon have not been as kind to Djokovic as other surfaces, to be sure. But isn't a first Wimbledon crown, just like Djokovic's recent world domination tour that left him just a match away from the world's No. 1 ranking, only a matter of time now?

Last year Nole was derailed by Berdych in straight sets in the semis at Wimbledon, but we all know that the Nole of 2011 is unlike any Nole that we've ever seen. The Serb is a one man wrecking machine these days, and one loss -- albeit a HUGE one -- shouldn't change the fact that a) He's better than ever and b) If he can beat Nadal on clay, then he can beat anybody on any surface, period.

We don't need to look back further than 3 weeks to be reminded of how special a player Djokovic can be. Djokovic was in the process of declaring himself the best player in the game then, and unless his loss to Federer has shaken his belief tremendously, there's really no reason to believe he doesn't have a lot more dominant tennis in him.

Life is not about what happens to you -- it's about how you react to what happens to you. Novak Djokovic lost a huge match to Roger Federer in Paris. Now it's time for him to react to that loss. Tournaments like these are what define careers. Novak is at the precipice of something amazing for his career, but he's also at a precipice that could see him fall back down into the abyss, doomed to eternity as an afterthought.

All year he's been a force, and in spite of the fact that he came in on his biggest losing streak of the season, today was no exception.

Djokovic attacked with clinical precision against Jeremy Chardy of France in a straight-sets victory that was a complete blowout once the Serb secured a break in the 9th game of the 1st set.

Watching him dominate, it was pretty easy to remember why Djokovic has been unbeatable of late. He's got so many ways to hurt his opponents, and he's stopped hurting himself too.

It makes you wonder: can he be that guy again? The guy who simply can't lose?

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