Wimbledon 2011: Rafael Nadal falls as Novak Djokovic is crowned new champion

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NOVAK Djokovic is the undisputed king of tennis this on Sunday after executing the toughest task in the sport – standing tall in the teeth of a hurricane to thwart a ferocious comeback from Rafael Nadal.

The 24-year-old Serb was guaranteed to become the world No 1 whether he won or lost the Wimbledon men’s final, but defeat by the world champion would inevitably have detracted from that achievement. Now, following his 6-4, 6-1, 1-6, 6-3 triumph, there can be no doubt. Just as Nadal usurped Roger Federer’s crown by winning the unforgettable final of 2008, so Djokovic has now deposed his Spanish rival.

A third Grand Slam to add to his Australian Opens of this year and three years ago leaves Djokovic still lagging behind his two great rivals over the course of their careers. But he is some way in front in 2011, having lost just one match since the start of the year, to Federer in the semi-finals at Roland Garros. The notion that he is tagging along, hanging on to the coat-tails of those two legends of the game, is no longer sustainable.

For Nadal, who was unable to defend his title in 2009 but enjoyed a triumphant return last year, this first Wimbledon defeat in four years was a bitter blow. He had roared back into contention after losing the first two sets to an almost perfect display from his opponent, and had shunted the momentum of the match in his favour, just as he had done after losing the opening set against Andy Murray in the semi-final.

A major review and periscoping the future

Petra Kvitova

After reaching the semi-finals here in 2010 and the final of Eastbourne just a week before play started at SW19, Petra Kvitiova was certainly no unknown. She wasn’t one of the bigtennis odds favourites though and could be backed with mosttennis handicappers at around 10/1. You probably won’t see such generous odds as those on 21-year-old Kvitova any time soon.

The powerful, big serving, left-hander blew away Maria Sharapova in the final on Saturday and the composure she showed in holding serve to love and finishing the match with an ace proved that the young Czech has everything going for her. It’s almost without question Kvitova will go on to become a multiple Grand Slam winner but we may even be looking at a player who is going to dominate the women’s game for years to come.

Other Successes

Whilst there could only be one winner, there were other success stories. Maria Sharapova showed she has finally put her injury problems behind her and is well capable of winning more Slams. Double faults plagued her throughout, but reaching the final without the loss of a set will have given her renewed confidence and belief.

After returning from a life-threatening injury, Serena Williams will feel her Wimbledon went as well as could be expected. She came through the emotional roller-coaster of her first match back on Centre Court and seemed to grow stronger by the day. She eventually went out to Bartoli in Round 4 but will be pleased with her progress and will surely be back on top form in time for the US Open in September.

The Future

Young Brit, Laura Robson will have been delighted with making her way through the early rounds before giving eventual finalist Maria Sharapova a run for her money. Robson will grow stronger in the next 12 months and could be in a real position to make an assault on the second week next time around.

Sabione Lisicki put her desperate injury problems in France behind her and enjoyed an excellent run through to the semi-finals. Her confidence and ranking will both be on the climb and it’ll be interesting to see how she builds on this success in the coming months.

In conclusion on the women, I feel Wimbledon 2011 showed women’s tennis to be in the best state it has been for a very long time. There is plenty of exciting young talent coming through and in Petra Kvitova we may have found a new star name in the game. Add to that the successful comebacks of the Williams sisters and Maria Sharapova and it’s fairly obvious were in for some top quality women’s tennis in the second half of 2011.

Men’s Success Stories

Novak Djokovic

Novak Djokovic had already done so much in the Men’s game before winning Wimbledon 2011. But despite the 43-match unbeaten run, the two Grand Slams and countless Masters titles, Novak maybe felt he still hadn’t been accepted as a true super-star of the game. In both his Aussie Open victories he had not come up against Federer or Nadal in the finals and the majority of his unbeaten run and wins over Nadal came in events that are maybe not on the radar of casual tennis fans.

Novak needed something special. He craved a Wimbledon win, and to finally achieve it, in such style and over the reigning Champion and former World No.1 just added even more to the dream. There’s no question the Djoker will be taken seriously now and as he settles back into reality with the World No.1 spot and a Wimbledon title to his name, you get the feeling this could just be the start of the Serbinator’s dominance.

Other Success

Bernard Tomic was probably the biggest success story of the Championships away from Djokovic. His incredible run to the last 8, which included victories over Davydenko and Soderling have marked him down as a real bright hope for the future. In fact, looking back over the tournament I think it’s fair to say that Tomic presented Djokoivc with his biggest challenge over the fortnight. The Serb was knocked out of his comfort zone by the young Aussie and had he lost a third set, which could have gone either way, an entirely different Wimbledon story could have been written.

Juan Martin Del Potro will be delighted with his Championships. He is starting to look like the Del Potro who beat Federer in the final of the US Open final in 2009 and he was very unlucky in defeat to Nadal in round 4.

Andy Murray will be feeling down following his semi-final defeat to Nadal but there’s little question that the British No.1 enjoyed his best Wimbledon yet. An outstanding first set against Rafa in the semi-finals ultimately gave way to some bad errors and defeat, but Murray should take heart from not only that set but the ease with which he moved through the tournament as a whole.

The Future

Things are going to get very interesting at the top of the Men’s game in the coming months. Nadal will be bristling after being ousted from his No.1 position and his fairly comprehensive defeat in the final will only serve to bring out even more development and improvement in his game. Despite an outstanding tournament, Federer looks like he may now be on the way down and Djockovic/Nadal looks like being the new big rivalry in the game.

Del Potro, Tsonga and perhaps a little later, Tomic will all be keen to put themselves in and around the top four. The hard courts of Flushing Meadow could be a very exciting place to be in 2011.

There can be no doubt that just as Nadal usurped Roger Federer’s crown by winning the unforgettable final of 2008, so Djokovic has now deposed his Spanish rival.

A third Grand Slam to add to his Australian Opens of this year and three years ago leaves Djokovic still lagging behind his two great rivals over the course of their careers. But he is some way in front in 2011, having lost just one match since the start of the year, to Federer in the semi-finals at Roland Garros. The notion that he is tagging along, hanging on to the coat-tails of those two legends of the game, is no longer sustainable.

For Nadal, who was unable to defend his title in 2009 but enjoyed a triumphant return last year, this first Wimbledon defeat in four years was a bitter blow. He had roared back into contention after losing the first two sets to an almost perfect display from his opponent, and had shunted the momentum of the match in his favour, just as he had done after losing the opening set against Andy Murray in the semi-final.

Petra Kvitova

After reaching the semi-finals here in 2010 and the final of Eastbourne just a week before play started at SW19, Petra Kvitiova was certainly no unknown. She wasn’t one of the bigtennis odds favourites though and could be backed with mosttennis handicappers at around 10/1. You probably won’t see such generous odds as those on 21-year-old Kvitova any time soon.

The powerful, big serving, left-hander blew away Maria Sharapova in the final on Saturday and the composure she showed in holding serve to love and finishing the match with an ace proved that the young Czech has everything going for her. It’s almost without question Kvitova will go on to become a multiple Grand Slam winner but we may even be looking at a player who is going to dominate the women’s game for years to come.

Other Successes

Whilst there could only be one winner, there were other success stories. Maria Sharapova showed she has finally put her injury problems behind her and is well capable of winning more Slams. Double faults plagued her throughout, but reaching the final without the loss of a set will have given her renewed confidence and belief.

After returning from a life-threatening injury, Serena Williams will feel her Wimbledon went as well as could be expected. She came through the emotional roller-coaster of her first match back on Centre Court and seemed to grow stronger by the day. She eventually went out to Bartoli in Round 4 but will be pleased with her progress and will surely be back on top form in time for the US Open in September.

The Future

Young Brit, Laura Robson will have been delighted with making her way through the early rounds before giving eventual finalist Maria Sharapova a run for her money. Robson will grow stronger in the next 12 months and could be in a real position to make an assault on the second week next time around.

Sabione Lisicki put her desperate injury problems in France behind her and enjoyed an excellent run through to the semi-finals. Her confidence and ranking will both be on the climb and it’ll be interesting to see how she builds on this success in the coming months.

In conclusion on the women, I feel Wimbledon 2011 showed women’s tennis to be in the best state it has been for a very long time. There is plenty of exciting young talent coming through and in Petra Kvitova we may have found a new star name in the game. Add to that the successful comebacks of the Williams sisters and Maria Sharapova and it’s fairly obvious were in for some top quality women’s tennis in the second half of 2011.

Men’s Success Stories

Novak Djokovic

Novak Djokovic had already done so much in the Men’s game before winning Wimbledon 2011. But despite the 43-match unbeaten run, the two Grand Slams and countless Masters titles, Novak maybe felt he still hadn’t been accepted as a true super-star of the game. In both his Aussie Open victories he had not come up against Federer or Nadal in the finals and the majority of his unbeaten run and wins over Nadal came in events that are maybe not on the radar of casual tennis fans.

Novak needed something special. He craved a Wimbledon win, and to finally achieve it, in such style and over the reigning Champion and former World No.1 just added even more to the dream. There’s no question the Djoker will be taken seriously now and as he settles back into reality with the World No.1 spot and a Wimbledon title to his name, you get the feeling this could just be the start of the Serbinator’s dominance.

Other Success

Bernard Tomic was probably the biggest success story of the Championships away from Djokovic. His incredible run to the last 8, which included victories over Davydenko and Soderling have marked him down as a real bright hope for the future. In fact, looking back over the tournament I think it’s fair to say that Tomic presented Djokoivc with his biggest challenge over the fortnight. The Serb was knocked out of his comfort zone by the young Aussie and had he lost a third set, which could have gone either way, an entirely different Wimbledon story could have been written.

Juan Martin Del Potro will be delighted with his Championships. He is starting to look like the Del Potro who beat Federer in the final of the US Open final in 2009 and he was very unlucky in defeat to Nadal in round 4.

Andy Murray will be feeling down following his semi-final defeat to Nadal but there’s little question that the British No.1 enjoyed his best Wimbledon yet. An outstanding first set against Rafa in the semi-finals ultimately gave way to some bad errors and defeat, but Murray should take heart from not only that set but the ease with which he moved through the tournament as a whole.

The Future

Things are going to get very interesting at the top of the Men’s game in the coming months. Nadal will be bristling after being ousted from his No.1 position and his fairly comprehensive defeat in the final will only serve to bring out even more development and improvement in his game. Despite an outstanding tournament, Federer looks like he may now be on the way down and Djockovic/Nadal looks like being the new big rivalry in the game.

Del Potro, Tsonga and perhaps a little later, Tomic will all be keen to put themselves in and around the top four. The hard courts of Flushing Meadow could be a very exciting place to be in 2011.