Clearly The One, Novak Djokovic Wins Wimbledon 2011 Men’s Singles Championship

Novak Djokovic, 2011 Wimbledon Men's Singles Champion

Leave it to the oddities of the tennis rankings computers on both the ATP and the WTA to create controversy. It has made every press conference Caroline Wozniacki has at a Major an ordeal of deflecting the same questions of whether her #1 ranking is legitimate without a Slam title. After Novak Djokovic secured the #1 ranking on the ATP computer by defeating Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the Wimbledon Men’s Semifinals regardless of whether he won the final and Rafael Nadal advanced to the final by beating Andy Murray, some talk began about the legitimacy of Nole’s ranking. After all, if Nadal won the final, he would have won 5 of the last 6 Majors but be ranked #2. That is a powerful and legitimate argument.

Rafael Nadal

But to compare Djokovic to Wozniacki, as some did, is not apt. For one, Djokovic has two Majors, including one this year, the 2011 Australian Open. Also, Wozniacki’s record against three players who, when healthy, many consider better than her is very poor. To date, Caroline has never beaten Kim Clijsters, Serena Williams or Venus Williams. Although Djokovic’s record overall is not great against Nadal and Roger Federer, he went into the men’s final at Wimbledon with a 7-1 record against Roger and Rafa in 2011, including 4-0 against Nadal. So a loss in the final to Nadal, while damaging to his ranking credibility, would not create an equivalency with Wozniacki. Of course, Novak could erase much of the doubt by winning the singles title.

Nole came out showing no fear. He went toe to toe in rallies with Rafa, more often than not winning points on rallies that extended beyond six shots. His serve was also working as he did not face a break point in the opening set. The two would battle to 5-4 on serve when Nadal squandered a 30-0 start on serve to lose the next four points, the last on a forehand wide, to surrender the first break of the match as well as the first set, 6-4.

With one set in his pocket, Djokovic won what in retrospect might have been one of the most important games of the match to start the second set. Nadal didn’t become a 10-time Major winner by being an easy out, particularly on the biggest stages and the biggest matches. Nadal quickly won the first two points, the last on a bit of a lucky net cord, to put Nole in a 0-30 hole on serve. At this point, there was a feeling that if Nadal could break early in the second set, he could swing momentum back to his side. But instead of succumbing to the nerves of the moment, Nole raised his level and fought back to win four straight points, including a missed overhead by Nadal, to win the game and maintain the momentum. It was Rafa who was deflated, immediately losing his serve in the second game. Sensing a crack in the armor, Novak put his foot on the gas and blitzed through the second set, 6-1.

Rafa needed a quick solution to the puzzle Djokovic was throwing at him or it was going to be a straight set loss for the Spaniard, something few could imagine. After holding serve to open the third set, Rafa found his magic, pushing Nole to 30-40 on serve. It was the first break point against Djokovic the entire match and Rafa made him pay, breaking him. With momentum swinging, Rafa returned the 1-6 loss of the set second set with a 6-1 win of the third.

Although up 2 sets to 1, the pressure was now squarely on Nole. Rafa was playing well while errors were creeping into Djokovic’s game. Novak knew, just as everybody watching knew, that if Rafa pushed the match to a fifth set, Djokovic’s chances would greatly diminish. Rafa could smell blood, and he pushed Novak to deuce on serve in the first game. If Novak dropped serve in the opening game of the fourth set, he might not recover. Instead, he rose to the challenge, with a two big serves on deuce point and ad point that induced long returns from Rafa. That hold was extremely important, as Novak began to reassert himself into the match after wandering a bit in the third set. Using the best return and defense in tennis, Djokovic quickly went up a break in the next game to put himself out in front 2-0 in the fourth set.  But Rafa would not let Djokovic run away, immediately breaking back to put the fourth set back on serve 2-1. It stayed on serve until 4-3. Rafa started what would be his last service game of the match with a double fault and a crosscourt backhand wide. Novak turned up the heat with his defensive brilliance getting Rafa in another long rally, with Djokovic emerging the winner to go triple break point on Rafa’s serve. Rafa saved the first break point but not the second, as Djokovic went up 5-3 and serving for his first Wimbledon championship. On this day, with so many questions swirling about his legitimacy to the #1 ranking, Novak held serve to win the Wimbledon Gentlemen’s Singles title, 6-4 6-1 1-6 6-3, and show anybody who had doubts who is now the best tennis player in the world.

NOVAK DJOKOVIC

RAFAEL NADAL

One thought on “Clearly The One, Novak Djokovic Wins Wimbledon 2011 Men’s Singles Championship

  1. Pingback: Wimbledon 2011 - Page 5 - LPGA Tour Forum

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