Friday, July 12, 2013
184-24 since the beginning of 2011? Won five of the last eleven Grand Slams, only missing the finals of three? Yeah, that guy. He's been a revelation, but he's also proven himself to be vulnerable this year, Dkojovic. He's been close to perfect a lot of times, even been perfect for slivers, but Djokovic hasn't been perfect enough to dominate the game like he did in 2011. There were times this year, particularly after Australia and after Monte Carlo, where we imagined Djokovic might slip into his Superman costume and make mincemeat out of the rest of the big four once again. There he was, serving, needing only two games for what would have been a momumental victory over Nadal in the Roland Garros semis; suddenly he gets too cute on what should have been an easy put-away and ends up doing the tango of death with the net. In the end what looked to be the possible makings of a run at the calendar-year Grand slam was just another searing heartache. If Djokovic had won this year's French Open we'd be tipping him for double-digit Grand Slams by the end of 2014. But as it stands, we aren't even tipping him for 10 by the end of his career. The fact of the matter is that the loss to Murray has taken Djokovic down a notch in terms of reputation. Now, it seems more likely that Murray will dominate the next two years, and if Murray dominates the next two years where does that leave Djokovic? Impossible to know. There were times during that Wimbledon final Where Djokovic looked as good as he ever has. There were other times where it was hard not to be scratching your head about his decisions. Why did he come to net so many times when it was clearly a losing strategy? What was the rush? Even on Murray's first match point, Djokovic played a suicidal sequence at the net that took him three pitch-perfect volleys to win. Why was he so reluctant on this day to spar with the Scot from the baseline, especially when the alternative was clearly doomed to fail? Djokovic wasn't outclassed in the Wimbledon final by any means. He had very good chances, with break leads in the second and third sets, but his inability to recognize that attacking the net behind anything but a near-perfect approach was a tactic that was doomed to fail and inevitably lead to his downfall. Was it ego? Was he injured? Will it happen again? All fair questions, and in time we will know all the answers. For now, all we know is that Djokovic's most dominant year appears to be behind him while Murray may be in the midst or on the cusp of his most dominant period. But keep in mind that if Djokovic wins the U.S. Open this summer he'll have finished a three-year period in which he'd won fifty percent of the Slams and participated in the final of 75 percent. That's the fickleness of tennis. One day you're the cat's meow and the next you're the cat's hairball. Djokovic could be either by the end of the summer, and only time will tell.