I remember watching the Wimbledon 2011 final, when it aired a little over two years ago. This was the match where the #1 ranking officially changed hands between Nadal and Djokovic (for the first time anyway.)
While technically Novak, had already secured the top rank by reaching the finals. It felt somewhat debatable as to who the better player really was.
Up until then, Djokovic had never beaten Nadal in a slam. He had an impressive win streak going into that match. Which included four straight wins over Rafa Nadal. But even with his triumph at the Australian Open, it was Nadal, who had claimed four of the past five majors. If Novak, wanted to be accepted as the new number one, he was going to have to beat Nadal on a much bigger stage.
Most people didn’t expect him to win. Grass, had never been the Serb’s best surface. And there was the longstanding argument that he couldn’t beat Nadal in a five set match. Rafa, seemed like the clear favorite for another Wimbledon trophy.
But the match told a much different story. Djokovic, came out the better player by far. Dominating the first two sets. Before his enraged rival, struck back to take the third 6-1. With the threat of a fifth set looming, Nole wasted no time in getting the momentum turned around in his favor. He won the fourth set convincingly and kicked off his run at the top with a bang.
As of October 7th, 2013, that era has ended (or at least is on hiatus, for now.) Nadal, has come back from a seven match losing streak to Novak. A seven month lay off from the game. A momentum halting loss to Steve Darcis, in the first round of Wimbledon. What more can I say? This man is the king of comebacks.
There was a time in early 2012, when I seriously questioned his likelihood of ever defeating Novak Djokovic, again. Looking back on the 2013 season, I’m really just in awe by what he’s accomplished. He skipped the Australian Open and lost first round at Wimbledon, yet he’s still the number one player.
In February, he simply said that he wanted to have a healthy start to the year, play a few tournaments, and see how his body reacted. With these expectations being so heavily surpassed. It will be interesting to see what goals he sets for next year.
Along with Djokovic. He won’t let Nadal stay on top of him for too long. I expect this drop in the ranking will only motivate him to do better. Novak is a fighter. It may take some time but he’s going to find an answer to Nadal.
I’m looking forward to seeing some great matches between them in 2014 and maybe at the World Tour finals.