Thursday, 16 June 2011

Novak Djokovic - The Trivalry

Courtesy: Sporting Life

Novak Djokovic's emergence as a serious challenger to Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal has led to the coining of a new sporting term: the trivalry.

In another era, perhaps Djokovic would already be established as one of the greatest players of all-time, but having had Federer and Nadal block his route to grand slam titles for many years, only in recent months has he began to disrupt their dominance.

"If you want to call it trivalry or rivalry, whatever you want to call it, I don't know," Djokovic said recently. "I just try to focus on what I do. Of course Roger and Rafa are the two biggest rivals that I have."

Having come off a winning run of 41 matches, Djokovic will be heading into Wimbledon as many people's favourite.

But others see him still as third in line, behind the established guard.

Nadal, fresh from his sixth French Open victory, and grass supremo Federer are the two that everyone will want to beat in London, but that should not detract from Djokovic's amazing six-month unbeaten run, which came to an end in Paris.

Had he not lost to Roger Federer in their French Open semi-final at Roland Garros, Djokovic would have equalled John McEnroe's record of 42 straight wins for the start of a season, and gone into Wimbledon as world number one.

The winning streak included a morale-boosting end to Djokovic's three-year wait for a second grand slam - his previous win came at the Australian Open in 2008 - and broke up Nadal and Federer's duopoly at the top of the rankings.

Djokovic's towering frame and powerful ground strokes are perhaps better suited to the hardcourts or clay, but he is determined to bounce back at Wimbledon after seeing his run come to an end.

"It was the best few months of my life," Djokovic said.

"I cannot complain. It was definitely an incredible period. It had to end somewhere. I knew it was coming. Unfortunately, it came in the bad moment. It was a big match but, look, it's the sport. I will keep on working hard."

Eight-time grand slam winner Andre Agassi admires the way Djokovic has sought to end the Nadal-Federer domination of the sport and is confident that defeat in Paris will make him even more determined to win his first Wimbledon crown.

"He is playing better than anyone else this season," the American said.

"He will be back to winning ways at big tennis events. There are two more grand slam tournaments before the end of the season.

"If I was in his place, I would start thinking ahead to Wimbledon, there I think he will be even better there and hungrier for success."

Djokovic has performed better in the other slams, but his record at Wimbledon is decent.

Had an injury not forced him to retire hurt during a semi-final against Nadal in 2007, he may have had a crack at Federer in the final that year.

Last time out Djokovic faltered again in the last four, gifting 12th seed Thomas Berdych a place in the final after a disappointing performance on Centre Court.

After his French Open effort this year, he opted to rest rather than play at Queen's Club, so should be suitably refreshed by the time he sets about trying to win his first championship at SW19.

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