Friday, 11 February 2011

Novak Djokovic - Power Ranking - #1

1. Novak Djokovic

Last Power Ranking: 4; ATP Ranking: 3

Last Four Tournaments: Australian Open (Winner), World Tour Finals (Semifinals), Paris (R16), Basel (Finals).

Power Ranking Points: 2,071

Novak Djokovic is ranked No. 1 in the season's first power ranking.

If this year’s Australian Open was proving that two weeks is a long time in tennis, it also showed that two hours 40 minutes can be just as significant: in fact significant enough to raise one player to an entirely new status. That was all it took to lay open the difference between the two men who have so much in common.

Djokovic and Murray frequently practise together, played their first Major and won their first ATP title in the same year, lost their first Major final to Federer in the U.S. Open. They both also came to Australia in good form.

But Djokovic had had something about him since his first win over Federer in the U.S. Open. With three finals and two semifinals in his last six ATP events, he took on the look of a man ready to step up to challenge the top two.

Following Serbia’s Davis Cup victory, he had simply burgeoned with confidence, his shoulders growing broader before the eyes, his head held higher. His form in Melbourne stoked that confidence with a resounding win over Berdych, and his tennis against Federer in their semi-final was nothing short of superb.

Against Murray, he never looked like losing and played off both wings with a now-familiar precision and power to both deep corners of the court.

His serve, of such concern in the early stages of 2010, set up his complex web of tactics to perfection. With a scattering of deft lobs and accurate volleys, Djokovic’s tennis has become a formidable combination.

The brash confidence that won the Serb his first Australian title at just 20 has now been reined in and honed into a mature confidence that has allowed his talent to flower. He is combining a solid, patient game of tactical intelligence with an athleticism that is the equal of any man on the tour.

He is fast and accurate, aggressive but with outstanding defensive skills. It’s a crowd-pleasing package, and it has now broken the Federer-Nadal stranglehold on the Majors.

The confidence continues to grow. He has already announced his intention to target Wimbledon, and he is close to overtaking Federer in the rankings—though that immediate ambition has been put on hold by his withdrawal from Rotterdam with a shoulder injury.

So roll on Dubai: the next venue where they could play out the fight for those top-two places again.

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