Monday, June 6, 2016

Is Novak Djokovic the GOAT?

Novak Djokovic just won his first French Open, completing his career slam as well as holding all 4 major titles consecutively.

As Andy Murray mentioned in his runner up acceptance speech- that is a rare thing in tennis.

I probably won't live to see another man hold all 4 major titles.

Now, I'm a Rafael Nadal fan. The King of Clay. An amazing player with a career slam, 9 French Open titles. He is the ultimate sportsman, humble, respectful of other players. He fights hard on every point whether he is down two sets or up two sets.

Then of course there is Roger Federer-the epitome of grace and beauty on a tennis court. By pure natural athleticism, he makes the incredibly difficult look easy.

As avid tennis fans, we've had the incredible good fortune to see these three men battle each other over the years. Each match becoming a match for the ages.

I had the amazing luck to be in the stands of Arthur Ashe Stadium for the men's final in 2011. It was Djokovic vs. Nadal. Exactly what I'd hoped for. At least until Djokovic took the trophy.

It was a good match, but Djokovic was too much for my Rafa. Still, it'a an experience I will always remember and cherish.

But the thing I'll remember most about the 2011 U.S. Open is not the final. It's the semi-final between Djokovic and Federer. It was match point for Federer. Even though it had gone to a fifth set, Roger was up 5 games to 3, 40-15. All it would take was one big bomb of a serve- something Federer has done thousands of times. And he did it- a huge serve out wide. Unfortunately for Roger, he was facing probably the best returner in the game.

Djokovic swung away and hit a huge return for a winner. That's the way Djokovic plays. Federer was miffed that he would try such a play, called it a "lucky shot".


But that's the way Djokovic plays. He has mad skills and nerves of steel. Perhaps he chose to just go for it on match point. Or perhaps he went with what his natural talent allowed him to.

Risky shot? Maybe. Unless you're Novak Djokovic. Some people, like Roger Federer, thought it was a crazy shot- irresponsible on match point.

I thought it was amazing. It was the first time I thought that Djokovic was the real deal. If he was willing to go for such an incredible return on match point, then he had me. I was a little bit won over. He lived by the sword and was willing to die by the sword.

No matter what you think about it, it was something to be respected. Is Novak the GOAT?

Maybe he is. And he has many years ahead of him...

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