25 January 2008
I am as big a fan of Roger as I am of tennis itself, and if you are anything like me then there is no sadder sight than the one above. Its the same dismal feeling I get when Sachin departs the batting crease without making a statement. After 10 consecutive grand slams we will finally have one without the champion. Its going to be terribly exciting to have the new candidate for the throne playing the wild gun Tsonga, however its also going to feel like a second tier ATP tournament final.
Admittedly Roger never looked his supreme self during the past two weeks (except for when he clinically dismantled Fabrice the magician) but somehow even when he is not at his best we are used to seeing him play at least marginally better than his opponent. However Djokovic is one of the few off late who has refused to be a part of that list. (Nadal and Nalbandian being the others. Lets not even talk about Canas; that was an anachronistic incident and wont be happening anytime soon again.) Except for his losses to Nalbandian and Nadal all the other loses have been because of Federer himself and not because of the other guy. Kudos to Djokovic for joining this elite group.
After three consecutive years of single digit losses in the entire calender year and an era of sheer contempt and outright domination, we may be entering a new era; one where the World No.1 tag will be restored its sanity and the divide between 1 and 2 wont be as gaping. I believe Federer's best is better than any other players best and therefore there is nothing to worry about. Roger is being compelled for the first time ever to make room for more folks at the top, but he is far from being dethroned. Its time to wake up and smell the coffee, coz if 2008 is half as exhilarating as the Australian open has been, we are in for a thriller.