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Sports Then and Now

Novak Djokovic Stakes His Claim to Number One

Posted on July 03, 2011 by Dean Hybl

Novak Djokovic defeated Rafael Nadal in four sets to win his first Wimbledon title.

Thanks to the crazy system used to determine tennis rankings, Novak Djokovic was assured of becoming the number one player in the world regardless of the result of the men’s final between Djokovic and current number one Rafael Nadal. But Djokovic eliminated any doubt about his worthiness with an impressive four set victory over Nadal.

In claiming his first Wimbledon title, Djokovic now seems to have replaced Roger Federer as Nadal’s primary rival for tennis supremacy. His 6-4, 6-1, 1-6, 6-3 victory may not have been in the classic style of previous battles between those two tennis icons, but Djokovic has illustrated that at age 24 he is reaching his tennis prime.

With his sweep through Wimbledon, Djokovic now holds two of the four grand slam titles and has lost only one match in 2011 (in the French Open semifinals to Federer).

Though he still is capable of competing at a high level, the days of Federer dominating men’s tennis are clearly over. He will turn 30 next month and hasn’t won a grand slam since the 2010 Australian Open.

Rafael Nadal is only a year older than Djokovic, but has significantly more wear on his body than his new rival, but also more overall success with 10 grand slam titles.

As Djokovic’s victory in the Wimbledon Final illustrates, he is clearly now at an even level with Nadal. The pair have now met twice in grand slam finals with Nadal having defeated Djokovic in four sets in the 2010 U.S. Open Finals.

Tennis is traditionally at its top in terms of interest when there is a rivalry that captivates the interest of both die-hard and casual fans. Nadal and Federer fit that bill in perhaps the best way since Sampras-Agassi.

It is yet to be seen if Djokovic and Nadal can reach similar heights in their rivalry, but with both players at their peak, it should be fun to watch them try.

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