Roger Federer versus Novak Djokovic: The old lions still roar
As expected, Novak Djokovic beat Roger Federer in the US Open final in four sets. I wasn’t surprised. However, what astonished me was when Croatian Marin Cilic and Japanese Kei Nishikori made it to the final of the same tournament in 2014. The former easily won in a three-setter, but before that, eight US Open titles were won by one of the big four (Djokovic, Federer, Andy Murray and Rafael Nadal) in the last nine years.
In 2009, Juan Martin del Potro beat Federer in an amazing five-setter to show a glimpse of hope that the dominancy of tennis’s four prodigal sons might end, yet no youngster has been able to meet such expectations till now.
The word out there is that men’s tennis is witnessing a new era, the old guard is falling and the chasing pack is finally closing in on the centre stage, if not occupying it every now and then.
Majority speaks in favour of the ‘Djokovic era’, while those inclined to Federer claim he is replenishing himself into his great old form. Nadal and Murray are facing a rather downward spiral, because of injuries and confidence issues, but on their day, they can still be brilliant players, as they have been at their best.
After Cilic and Nishikori, the 23-year-old Milos Raonic, a big-serving right-hander with a booming forehand and an apt nickname ‘the missile’, is being touted to replace someone from the big four, but he hasn’t been able to make his mark this year too.
Stan Wawrinka is another contender for a position in the top four, but Nadal is the only player below him in the current rankings.
Tomas Berdych, Latvian Ernst Gulbis and Grigor Dimitrov are some of the other names who are being thought of as the future of tennis, but the question of how much time will it take for them to dethrone the big four remains unanswered.
This points towards one thing – the young contenders are slowly but surely crawling their way up. Nevertheless, it will probably take around five years before the big four can be overthrown. In the closing ceremony of the 2015 US Open, Federer told his fans that he will see them next year, as he has found the vigour back in his game.
“I’m very pleased with where my game is at,” said Federer, who won the most recent of his 17 majors at Wimbledon in 2012. He added, “It feels like it has moved in the right direction. I’m back in the final for the first time since 2009. I love the sport. I’ve got a lot of passion... One last thing, I’ll see you guys next year.”
Meanwhile, Djokovic is not planning to hang his boots soon. He stated,
“I’m 28. I have always valued the care for my body, and my mind... I will continue on with the same kind of lifestyle. Hopefully this same kind of approach will give me longevity and I can have many more years to come and many more opportunities to fight for these trophies.”
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