Can world number one Novak Djoković repeat unstoppable 2011 form in Melbourne?
In the world of tennis, Novak Djoković’s 2011 was dubbed as ‘one of the very best years in tennis of all time.’
Finer words could not come from such a respectable figure other than Boris Becker, and he, like the rest of the tennis fans across the globe, saw and admired the rise of Djoković.
The Serb won ten tournaments in all, including three of the four Grand Slams, and shot up to number one in the world rankings, helping him gain many admirers for his commendable performances.
Now, Djoković has the near-impossible task of following that year up, but if anybody can better it, it’s Novak. The Australian Open 2011 winner returns to Melbourne to defend his crown, and started 2012 as he means to go on.
The world number one has coasted through the opening rounds in Melbourne Park, however his first real test of the tournament came against crowd favourite Lleyton Hewitt. Djoković had not lost a set up until the round four clash, but Hewitt, himself a former world number one, was never going to be a pushover.
Although the opening two sets had gone much like Djoković’s previous three matches, taking them with consummate ease, 6-1 6-3. However with the Australian crowd buoying Hewitt on, the Aussie came back and took the third set 6-4. Djoković though, didn’t panic, and found a way to move through the gears and win the fourth 6-3 to reach the quarter-finals.
Now, world number five David Ferrer stands in the way of Djoković and the semis, with the Spaniard one of the best returners of serve in the game.
Djoković’s flat first serves and sliced second serves may well be attacked a little more whilst facing an aggressive Ferrer, however such is the Serbian’s current dominance in the sport, he is now 18 Grand Slam matches unbeaten, and small factor like this shouldn’t faze him.
The Australian Open is set out as such that he faces a possible meeting with Scot Andy Murray, whilst superstars Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer have already sealed their fate in meeting in the other semi-final.
The way Djoković has played though suggests a short winter break in the game has not disrupted his rhythm, as he continues to overpower and punish his opponents with class and flair in all of his games.
And it is that skill that Djoković holds in his locker, that may see him through to the semi-finals, and then into the final yet again.
A third consecutive Grand Slam is not out of the equation. If Djoković does defeat Ferrer, Murray as a potential semi-final opponent should not put off the right-hander either, since he has defeated him six times from ten meetings.
Nadal has had to battle hard to make it through his recent matches, and fatigue may creep into the Spanish star’s game, whilst Federer’s career may have taken a blip during 2011, so meeting either of these men in the final shouldn’t be an issue either.
As good as the world number two and three are, it will be difficult to meet the standards of Djoković. His all-round game is arguably superior now than the aforementioned, with serves, forehands, backhands, lobs, drop-shots all in his array of attacking moves.
Djoković looks a good bet to hold aloft the Norman Brookes Challenge Cup on January 29th, and from then on, maybe he is to go on and produce another year of superb tennis.
Surely his one wish is to now secure the French Open later on in the year, however his attentions will be on Australia for now, and to kick off 2012 in the best way possible.