Thursday, April 7, 2011

 The tennis story has been a familiar one for the past few years, with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal taking up most of the space on the back pages. Their brilliance has been undeniable and has provided men's tennis with the excitement and consistency that the women's game currently lacks. However, this season has seen Novak Djorkovic play some quite incredible tennis to go unbeaten for twenty-seven matches in a row, the best start of a campaign since Ivan Lendl's run in 1986.

 Last night the Serb continued his impressive start to 2011 by beating Nadal in three sets in the Sony Ericsson Open final. The quality of tennis by both players was outstanding, as both showed their wide array of arsenal. The Serb initially seemed unable to cope with the combination of Rafa's shot selection and windy conditions as the world number one came raced to a 5-1 lead. Despite the unusual amounts of unforced errors committed in the first half hour, the Serb adapted his game dramatically to scrap back to four games.
However, the second set was where Djokovic came alive taking it 6-3 against his typically resilient opponent. The third was a real tussle as both players showed impressive amounts of determination. The match was eventually decided by a tie-breaker, which the Novak managed to take 7-4. The Miami trophy adds to the Hopham Cup, Indian Wells, Dubai Tennis Championships and the Australian Open that he has managed to pick up this year. So who can beat him?

  Roger Federer? The best player to ever play the sport seems unable to compete with the dominant two of world's tennis at the moment. Perhaps the extra parental stress has taken its toll on the Swiss. Although, reigning French Open champion, the absence of Nadal at Rolland Garros last year somewhat taints that accomplishment. No doubt, Federer will be considered as a top contender, but it seems likely that he will be able to produce the goods against both Nadal and Djokovic on clay.
A player who should be in contention to make an impact in Paris is Andy Murray. However, the Scot has played poorly following the defeat in Australian Open final. Since the loss, Murray has seemingly dropped out of the frame with only an April fool's joke to be heard of. The pressure to win a Grand Slam must surely be frustrating for the Scot, who is more than capable enough to win one. His offensive work definitely needs improving, but his defensive play is top class. Maybe his new coach should be one of an aggressive mentality? John McEnroe anyone?

Let's be honest, it's impossible to remain undefeated the entire season. Someone's has to stop the run and it seems the best chance lies with Nadal at the moment. With the clay season beginning shortly, if the Serb manages to succeed in trumping Nadal on the Spaniard's preferred court, than the tennis world will truly have witnessed something remarkable. For Djokovic to win the French Open is still questionable, but there is no doubt as to who is the man to beat. He's hitting the ball so sweetly with his Head Youtek Speed racket right now.

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