Novak Djokovic: Djoker checks in..

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Dusty Payne

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Tennis News
  • Novak Djokovic: Djoker checks in..

Djokovic breaks the Federer-Nadal deadlock…

For most of this decade, majority of the fans across the world could have been forgiven in thinking that only two players were in the fray and all others were merely amongst the ‘also-rans’. Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal have, deservedly so, hogged the headlines for the better part of the decade having won an astonishing 23 Slams between them out of the last 28 Slams that have been played since Federer won his first major at Wimbledon in 2003. Amongst those list of ‘also-rans’ however, one name that’s been consistently considered as a threat to their supremacy has been that of Serbia’s Novak Djokovic.

 

2007, the year when he arrives…

Ever since Djokovic reached the final of the 2007 US Open and then triumphed at the final of the 2008 Australian Open, he’s spent most of his time at the no. 3 ranking of the ATP Chart, a fair testimony to the fact that he’s been Federer and Nadal’s challenger no. 1. The Serbian turned pro in 2003 but it was not until 2007 that his talent became visible in the major tournaments. In that year’s Australian Open, he faced Roger Federer in the Round of 16. Though he lost that match in straight sets to the eventual champion Federer, Djokovic won a lot of hearts by his style of play that at times even had the great champion across the net hurrying for points.

 

Finally beats Federer…

Djokovic met Federer at Dubai again that year only to lose again but this time the Serbian had managed to pull off a set from the Swiss. Nonetheless, his big moment was to come at the Montreal Masters later that season. In the final of that tournament, Djokovic registered his first win over Federer and thereby formally announced to the world that he could beat the best players at the big tournaments. What however stood out most in that Masters Series win was that Djokovic had beaten Nadal in the semis and had thus become one of the few players who would go on to a tournament by beating both, Federer and Nadal on the way.

 

2007 US Open

2007 was not yet over and Djokovic reached his maiden Grand Slam final at the US Open later in the same year. In a dramatic final against Federer, Djokovic was on the verge of taking a two-sets-to-love lead after having held 5 set points in the first set and 2 more in the second. The experience and class of Federer was too much to handle however as the Swiss won his then 12th Slam. The Serbian to his credit didn’t have to wait too long after that though to win his maiden Slam!

 

2008 in Australia!

In the 2008 Australian Open, Djokovic claimed his 1st major as he won the title by beating Federer in the semis and then Frenchman Jo-Wilfred-Tsonga in the final. The win over Federer came in straight sets as a red-hot Djokovic shut out Federer’s hopes of a 4th title at the season’s opening Grand Slam. He then faced a few nervous moments in the final before disposing off Tsonga in four sets to win the title. It looked like there would be a three-way clash amongst Federer, Nadal and Djokovic in the years to come. But things have not been that straightforward for the no. 3 player ever since that triumph at Melbourne.

 

Fitness, inconsistency, withdrawals…

Concerns over his fitness have often plagued his preparation for major tournaments. Novak Djokovic has had a history of withdrawing from his matches mid-way through them. On one such occasion, when he withdrew from a match against Andy Roddick at the 2009 Australian Open, the American and several other players including Federer questioned his overall commitment level to the game. His performances at the Slams also didn’t show the kind of consistency as one would have expected after his win at the Australian Open in 2008. Since that win, he’s yet to win another major and moreover, has failed to even reach the final of a Slam.

 

Off-court antics…

Off-the-court, Djokovic always seems to see the funnier side of the game but his antics have often tended to rub fellow players the wrong way. His habit of mimicking players has not gone well down with a lot of them. Additionally, Djokovic during his earlier days on the circuit used to be accompanied by his coterie of supporters which included his mother and little brother. Both didn’t mind in letting their emotions out in the stands or otherwise by sometimes vociferously letting their thoughts known to Djokovic’s opponents as well. On one such occasion in 2008, Roger Feder, who normally is known to be a monk on the court, got so irritated that he looked at the Djokovic camp and said, ‘Be quiet, okay!’

 

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