The Year of the Djoker continued in the final of the 2011 BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells as Novak Djokovic defeated world #1 Rafael Nadal 4-6 6-3 6-2, keeping Djokovic unbeaten for 2011 at 18-0 and extending his match winning streak to 20 going back to last year’s Davis Cup final. Nadal came out early attacking Novak’s backhand, in one service game he did nothing but serve to Novak’s backhand. For a little while that strategy worked. Novak committed 13 first set unforced errors. Early on, it looked like Nadal would break Novak’s unbeaten streak. But what is good for the goose is also good for the gander as Novak began slicing his serve to Nadal’s backhand. Nadal had no answer as Novak went on a 6 game win streak from the end of the second set to 4-0 in the final set. The crucial game seemed to be the final game of the second set as Novak wasted a couple of set points. They went to deuce a handful of times before Novak gutted it out. Pushing the match to a third set seemed to invigorate Novak while deflating Rafa. It seemed all of the steam went out of Rafa’s game at the beginning of the final set while Novak couldn’t miss. A statement was made on Sunday. Roger, Rafa, Robin and Andy beware. There is a new sheriff in town.
We can argue about quality of Grand Slam performance for Kim Clijsters or lack of a defined single weapon, but at the end of the day Caroline Wozniacki keeps rolling, ignoring (as best she can) the critics around her who wait for a Grand Slam title. Roland Garros is around the corner, and for now I would make Wozniacki and Clijsters even in their chances to win the title. On Sunday, the world #1 proved that consistency and court intelligence is as much a defined weapon as a big serve or powerful forehand. Martina Hingis, in her prime, often looked like she wasn’t doing much…except winning, yanking opponents around the court while seemingly not breaking a sweat. Similarly, Wozniacki ran Marion Bartoli all around the court in Sunday’s final, winning 6-1 2-6 6-3. I give Bartoli credit for not bowing out meekly, but she looked exhausted from Caroline yo-yoing her around the court while Caroline looked like she had just finished warming up.
“I’m sorry, I’m a little bit in tears right now, but it’s more tears of tiredness – Caroline, you made me really tired today!” Bartoli said in the on-court ceremony. “Caroline, you should be very proud of yourself and I wish you all the best in the future. I know your goal is to get a Grand Slam. I’m sure you’ll get it very soon.”
Love on the court for Caroline and Novak?