He charged the net frequently, was ultra-aggressive in his approach, invented a new shot, only squandered 52 games and not even a single set in his stroll to the final. Yet, it all counted for nothing in the end.
Novak Djokovic silenced the blazing Roger Federer juggernaut in the final of the US Open in four effervescent and pulsating sets to record his tenth grand slam victory and second at the Flushing Meadows.
The reigning world number one is now only one slam shy of tying his major tally with the greats Bjorn Borg and Rod Laver and has already etched his name amongst the game’s prodigies.
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Djokovic’s triumph on Sunday came over an opponent who is currently touted as his lone challenger. However, with the Belgrade-native having successfully overwhelmed the Swiss trouper in three consecutive grand slam battles, it now appears that this ‘challenger’ title bestowed upon Federer is a ceremonial one.
Djokovic is ruling and conquering all and at present faces no major obstacles in his quest for further grand slam glory. Federer’s exploits and fireworks are merely proving to be a sideshow and an amusement display in Djokovic’s party.
With the US Open now drawn to a conclusion and its euphoria and hangover slowly ebbing away, let us fully analyze what its fallout is likely to be.
The one glaring conclusion which can be drawn is it looks like Djokovic is set to dominate the men’s game for the foreseeable future. The 28-year-old has already secured the year-end number one spot for the fourth time in his illustrious career and currently finds himself at the top of the game’s pecking order with 16145 ranking points. Federer is a distant second at 9405 points.
Djokovic is likely to continue in the same vein and is expected to culminate his stellar season on a high by securing another Masters 1000 title and capturing his fifth Barclays ATP World Tour Finals trophy.
Federer, meanwhile, will look to emulate the remarkable run he has had over the last couple of months. He will eventually edge Andy Murray as the year’s number two player but will fall, like he has now, to any final hurdle which has a Serbian origin to it.
Andy Murray will rebound from his disappointing US Open campaign which could mostly be attributed to his crammed tournament schedule in the run-up to the final grand slam of the year. In the best of three sets, he remains to be one of the few players capable of upsetting Djokovic but will have to exhibit consistency and arrest his topsy-turvy form – something which he has failed to do lately.
Nadal will also be desperate to return to the winners’ circle again, having endured an arid and frustrating 2015 season. The Spaniard failed to lift a major trophy in a year for the first time since 2004 and has fallen from his grace since his famous triumph over Djokovic in the French Open final of 2014.
It will be interesting to see what quick fixes Nadal will look to employ to steady his sinking ship, but it remains highly unlikely the Spaniard will make any noticeable waves in the closing stages of the season. He may eventually end up securing a place in the year ending finale, but instead of gloating about it, he will surely reflect on what went wrong for him and how he can correct the wrongs heading into the next year, with an aim of raising his credentials once again as a major title contender.
While surely all the players would have set their goals and targets for the coming months, the whole tennis world will follow in awe, admiration and excitement of how Djokovic seals his astounding year, and even what will transpire after that.
One more slam will tie him in the all-time list of slams won with Borg and Laver but that is surely not his ultimate aim. That, I am sure, won’t even be topping the next two tennis greats ahead of Borg and Becker; Sampras and Nadal who have 14 slams to their names.
His target is to surpass the man who he has recently beaten in the US Open final. Though this talk currently has a muted nature, it is sure to become a major talking point come the next season.
For a man winning three slams a year and a path to it devoid of any substantial competition, who is willing to bet against him.