“He’s crushing us.” “It’s his playground right now.”
Those were a couple of the quotes from American Mardy Fish following his 6-3 6-1 loss to Novak Djokovic in the semifinals of the 2011 Sony Ericsson Open. Strong, but true, words all. Djokovic won his 25th straight match since the end of 2010, running his 2011 record to 23-0 with the victory over Fish. What makes how he’s winning so remarkable is that he’s finding every different way to win; complete blowouts, tough three set matches like the wins against Federer and Nadal at Indian Wells, or like against Fish, not completely winning a huge majority of points but winning all of the big points.
“It was extremely disappointing. I mean, to be honest, I thought I played well. You look up, I’m down 6 3, 5-1, you look at the total points won and he’s only won like eight more points and I’m down 6-3, 5-1. That kind of tells you that I didn’t win any of the big points. None of them.” -Mardy Fish
The task of extending the win streak will get tougher for Djokovic in the final as Rafael Nadal punched his ticket to championship match with a complete 6-3 6-2 domination of Roger Federer, running his record against the all-time great to 15-8 overall. Djokovic beat Nadal in 3 sets at Indian Wells but Nadal looked better against Roger than he looked at BNP Paribas. Of course, the argument could be made that Rafa simply has Roger’s number and that styles make matchups. It was almost sad to watch Roger be dominated in every phase of the game in the semi-finals. Nadal had the big serve working, he was tough off the ground and was moving like a gazelle. Regardless of what happens in the final, it is clear that the new Big 3 is in danger of becoming the Big 2 again, except that instead of Rafa and Roger and then everybody else it will be Novak and Rafa and then everybody else. Novak is trying to paint himself as an underdog in the final, but those days of being second fiddle to the top 2 are over. Novak is the favorite going in. But if there is anybody right now who can put an end to Djokovic’s winning streak, it’s Rafael Nadal.