Deuce #1: Before we start downplaying the sheer brilliance of Novak Djokovic's 2011 campaign, consider this: His season is remarkable not simply because of his record. Djokovic's ascent is more than just the story of a dominating win-loss record, and because of that it deserves special consideration. Djokovic, unlike John McEnroe in 1984, came from a subservient spot in the rankings, reversing a lopsided head-to-head with not one but two of the greatest players to ever play the game. Not only did he pass them both in the rankings, he did so while playing for a nation that had never produced a Grand Slam singles titlist.
While McEnroe's winning percentage (96.5%) and win-loss record (82-3) remain untouchable after Djokovic's 4th loss of the season in Basel today, the relative improbability of what Djokovic has done against a vastly superior depth of field still leaves his season, in my humble opinion, worthy of consideration as the best ever.
If he skips the Paris event to recover from his current shoulder fatigue, comes back and sweeps the Barclays World Tour Finals in London, then we'll really have something to argue about.
Deuce #2: Not under my roof, part two: Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova is one match away from finishing 2011 with a perfect 21-0 record in indoor matches. She was ruthlessly effective against Russian Maria Kirilenko in Fed Cup play today, winning easily in straight sets. If Rafa is the king of clay, then Petra is the queen of the indoors, for lack of a better word. I wanted to say carpet, but there isn't much carpet on the indoor circuit these days.
Ad in: Juan Martin del Potro's chances for the last ATP World Tour Finals spot were slimmed down today when he lost to Spaniard Marcel Granollers (named "granola bar" by Brad Gilbert) in Valencia today. Still, a valiant effort from del Potro to even get himself in position to compete for a spot, considering he was 475 spots out of contention earlier in the year.
Deuce #3: The Paris Masters draw is set. Tomas Berdych can slack off because he locked up his spot in the Tour Finals today when Delpo Lost.
Ad out: Kudos to Roger Federer for reaching his sixth consecutive final at Basel. He'll be gunning for his 5th title in front of his hometown faithful against Kei Nishikori, who handed the Serb his 4th loss of the season in the semis. As far as Federer goes, his game is as beautiful as ever, he's as fit as ever, and he appears primed to win his first title since January (Doha).
For those who thought that reaching 30 might be the beginning of the end for Federer, it's time to think again. Federer is a picture of perfect health right now, and if Djokovic and Nadal miss the mark at all next year, who do you think will be there to pounce on the opportunity?