The Fastest Serb!

novo2.JPGFollowing his loss to Roger Federer in the US Open last year, Novak Djokovic had remarked that he would name his autobiography “The seven set points”. The statement came after the Serb failed to convert the seven set points that came his way. He admitted that he was mentally weaker than his opponent on the day. Many critics labeled him Choke-ovic.But an anti-climax was waiting to happen. Djokovic came out bigger and better after the loss beating 6 of the top 15 players (including Federer) in the ATP masters. And after being seeded 3 in the Australian Open this year Djokovic had come dangerously close to Nadal and Federer. What many people did not predict was that Djokovic will go on to win the tournament which he eventually did and that too in spectacular fashion (dropping just one set through out the championship). The high point came when Djokovic beat Federer in the semi-final in straight sets. The Swiss struggled to come to terms with the bazooka serve and the ferocious double-handed backhand down the line. Federer, as untrue as it may sound, was outplayed.Then came The Final. His Opponent –an inspired Frenchman Jo-Wilfred Tsonga who had blanked the No.2 seed in the semi-final. Actually ‘blanked’ would be an under-statement. Nadal, quite frankly, was left dizzy. Parallels had been drawn with the famous “Rumble in the Jungle” all because the Frenchman had a striking resemblance to Ali. The crowd was behind Tsonga yet Djokovic carried out his task in workman-like fashion-absorbing all that Tsonga threw at him in the first set and then shifting his game one gear up to win his maiden Grand slam title. He also won back the crowd by this statement in his winning speech: “I know you wanted him to win more but its okay! I still love you guys!”

Novak (affectionately called Nole) became the first Serbian to win a singles Grand Slam title bringing unprecedented honor to his country. This win has given birth to a new star on the ATP circuit and a player with the right attitude to challenge the dominance of Roger Federer. It’s too early to say whether he will be successful (Roger, for now, is way ahead in points). With due respect to Novak, Roger Federer on grass is a Completely different ball game altogether but Novak has the right technique especially his two-handed backhand which hurt the Federer forehand here in Melbourne. All in all Novak Djokovic poses a bigger threat to Roger in his pursuit of Pete Sampras’ world record 14 Grand Slam Titles than even Rafael Nadal. Simply because Djokovic is good at playing on the three surfaces which are faster than Roland Garros and which have hitherto remained Federer’s forte.

Prior to his semifinal against Roger, Djokovic himself had pointed out that the gap between Roger and the rest was narrowing. Federer responded by saying that he had heard it before. As it turned out Djokovic nicknamed “The Joker” here in Australia, wasn’t joking!!!

Prateek Kapil