Out With The Old…
The noughties have left us. And whilst we’re yet to think of a catchy name for our new decade, it is already well upon us. Just as we’ve said goodbye to Sex In The City, oversized bags, and Osama Bin Laden, it seems it is also time to bid adieu the Fedal Era. Just like our current decade, the rivalry that has risen to the throne is nameless, (the suggested Rafole lacks a little something), but is already shaping up to be a classic.
It seems tennis is a little like a monarchy; when one royal leaves us there’s always a fresh face waiting to take their place. Prince William must cringe at the comparisons made between his new bride and his late mother, but the media and fans don’t see it that way. In Kate they have a new heroine, and they’ll be damned if they’re not going to milk the hype. Similarly, Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic have little in common. Federer’s weakness is Djokovic’s go-to side, and whilst Federer conjures up adjectives like fluent, graceful, and classy, Djokovic is more likely to be associated with the term ‘party-animal’, a name unlikely to ever be put next to the almost teetotalling Federer. When Federer won the Australian Open in 2010, he walked out of Rod Laver with quiet achievement. A year later, Djokovic was found hurtling down the footpaths yelling, ‘Fair Dinkum Fair Dinkum,’ to his adoring fans. They seem at times a world apart, but here stands Djokovic, ready to take Federer’s throne.
It’s time to throw a bone to Federer fans here, before the masses revolt. Federer has many crowns, and it is likely they will stay his for a very long time. He has countless records on and off the court that stand alone, (in a vacuum-packed room if you chose to believe). He is by no means done and dusted, he hasn’t retired or loitering outside the top 100. Federer, at number 3, is very much in the mix. It’s likely he has more Grand Slams in him. But, for now, he’s vacated his place beside Nadal. He may have been sat there so long he’s left his buttocks imprinted on the seat cushion, but at 29 years old, Federer now finds himself one step down.
Like any good opportunist, Djokovic has risen quickly to the top. With Federer not as quick as he was, and Nadal suffering from injury at the Australian Open, Djokovic catapulted himself to the title. Then came the unbelievable. Another two unanswered wins over Federer, and then three straight against Nadal. He fought Nadal on hard-courts, and then again on Nadal’s own battlefield, clay. Of course to get the right to play Nadal he had to fight off countless others, but he shrugged them away as if minions. It wasn’t a far stretch to imagine Djokovic crying ‘off with his head’ as he soared to yet another title in Rome. Yet despite all these wins over Nadal, we still get the feeling their rivalry is only in the warm-up stages. Our attention turns now to Paris, where we will watch with greedy eyes as we anticipate a Nadal Djokovic final. If they do meet in the final, it will be their first real war. Chapter one, dare we say, in what is shaping up to be a magnificent rivalry.