Is Djokovic the best player in the world?
It’s getting harder to argue the contrary. Nadal still currently holds three of the Slams, and until that changes a legitimate case can be made that he’s still Numero Uno. But Djokovic has bested him in three straight Masters finals, including this past weekend in Madrid. Beating Nadal on red clay is about as rare as a classy Lakers playoff exit. The tide in this matchup may have turned when Djokovic decided to prove that his backhand is the best shot in men’s tennis. Sure, other serves and forehands are bigger, but the gulf between what Djokovic can do with his backhand compared with what his competition does may be wider than any stroke. Regardless of which guy has the upper hand, the rivalry between these two has transcended into documentary status. It’s like Ali – Frazier with less liniment, rhyming, and racial taunting: they bring out the best in each other, the points are toe-to-toe slugfests, and they leave a piece of themselves on the court when they shake hands. You get the feeling there are only so many times they can actually play each other at this level before it destroys them.
(My favorite part of the Nadal between-the-legs lob (above) is that after hitting such an absurd shot, and celebrating with his customary fist-pump, Nadal still immediately remembers his need to never cross the center baseline strap between points without kicking the dirt off it. You can see him walking toward it and sliding his foot before the camera cuts away. The man will never take a chance of angering the tennis gods, especially after granting him such good fortune.)
What the hell is the Madrid Open trophy?
It looks like a gold-plated masochistic sex toy (especially in Ion Tiriac’s hands). The biggest disappointment of Nadal losing was we never got to see him try to bite this thing.
Is Federer still in the mix?
He got to the semis and took the opening set from Nadal (encouraging). Then he vanished for a set and change before rallying and coming up short in the third (familiar). I don’t like having to look for silver-linings in Federer’s performances. I’m willing to view his recent showings against Nadal and Djokovic as his disco period. There’s still some great music left in him. He just needs to find the right venue (Wimbledon?).
No Americans in top 10?
Do you hear that, Mr. McEnroe? That is the sound of inevitability. It’s tough to compete for talent when a marginal middle reliever can pocket a $5 million/season guaranteed. You desperately need to find your chosen one.