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Sports Then and Now



A Reversal of Fortunes: Novak Djokovic Derailed Rafael Nadal 23

Posted on September 08, 2011 by JA Allen

Novak Djokovic captured his second grand slam title at the 2011 Australian Open

A year ago at the conclusion of the 2010 US Open, Rafael Nadal was king of the mountain, having just captured his first US Open trophy and a career grand slam.

He had 10,475 ATP ranking points, leading Roger Federer by 3,260 points, Novak Djokovic by 3, 810 and Andy Murray by 5,350 total points.

Life was good.

Things were definitely looking up for the world No. 1 who had just completed the best summer season of his life on the tennis court.

By the end of 2010 Nadal remained the top dog with 12,450 points leading world No. 2 Federer by 3,305 points, Djokovic by 6,205 points and No. 4 Murray by 6,690 points.

The two top-ranked players were separating themselves from the rest of the pack, and that included No. 3 Djokovic and No. 4 Murray. That meant the continuing Federer-Nadal iron grip at the top was going to be “the” tennis story of 2011.

Or was it?

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Men’s Tennis Power Ranking: Novak Djokovic Stays Hot Heading into New York City 1

Posted on August 24, 2011 by JA Allen

Arthur Ashe Stadium in New York City

As the 2011 US Open gets underway on Monday, August 29, we suddenly realize that we have arrived at the last major of year.

Many compelling story lines have carried us to this point. Throughout the year, the sports media remained poised on the brink, waiting, as Serb Novak Djokovic first surpassed No. 2 Roger Federer and then No. 1 Rafael Nadal to secure the top spot in men’s tennis.

Starting back in January as players journeyed to Melbourne, the year appeared to stretch ahead forever. The talk then concerned Rafael Nadal winning the 2011 Australian Open. The victory would have made Nadal the first man since Rod Laver in 1969 to own all four slam titles at one time.

Dreams of the “Rafa Slam” ended in Australia when Nadal endured a left thigh injury. Nadal lost his quarterfinal match to compatriot David Ferrer 6-4, 6-2, 6-3––in pain, yet, all the while refusing to retire.

Aspirations of Roger Federer winning his fifth Australian Open Championship also died when the Swiss lost to Novak Djokovic during the Australian Open semifinals––in straight sets. Djokovic went on to demolish Andy Murray in the 2011 finals, also in straight sets.

Since scaling his way into the men’s top ten in 2007, the Serb finally managed to make it all the way to the top in 2011. He took Federer’s No. 2 ranking at Indian Wells, defeating the Swiss in the semifinals. Djokovic took Nadal’s No. 1 ranking at Wimbledon as well as the championship trophy.

The new world No. 1 lost twice in 2011. He was defeated in his semifinal bid at Roland Garros to Roger Federer. Djokovic also lost to Andy Murray on Sunday August 21 in Cincinnati.  Otherwise, the Serb remains perfect in 2011, as he prepares for the upcoming US Open.

Djokovic continues to dominate the power rankings heading into the last major of the season.

Following are the top ten men, with rankings based on their last four tennis tournament appearances.

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Future of Tennis “Dark Horse” Candidates Get Ready for the Upcoming U.S. Open 3

Posted on July 25, 2011 by JA Allen

The faces of the future...Milos Raonic, for one.

It stands to reason that the term “dark horse” originates from the world of horse racing.

For those betting on the outcome, it meant that setting odds became difficult when a horse was not known to gamblers.

Today, in the world of sports or politics, it signifies that a person who was not well known emerged as a winner––an unexpected winner.

So while Juan Martin del Potro may not be a “favorite” entering the 2011 U.S. Open, the Argentine cannot be regarded as a “dark horse” because he is well-known in Flushing Meadows.

Del Potro won the US Open title in 2009.

True “dark horses” are not widely known by the general viewing public because they are relatively new on the tennis scene.

These young players have not made much of a name for themselves––yet.

To date, there are six young guns ready to make their way to the top of the men’s game.

They will become the “dark horses” in the upcoming US Open, representing the future of tennis on the men’s side of the draw.

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  • Vintage Athlete of the Month

    • Hall of Famer Tony Oliva
      July 17, 2022 | 2:15 pm
      Tony Oliva

      After waiting for 45 years after his retirement, the Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month is finally taking his rightful place as a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame.

      Before injuries cut short his Hall of Fame worthy career, Tony Oliva was one of the best hitters in baseball and combined with Hall of Famers Rod Carew and Harmen Killebrew to make the Minnesota Twins a perennial American League contender during the late 1960s.

      Discovered on the baseball fields of Cuba by a Minnesota Twin scout, Oliva came to the United States in 1961 and within three years the American League Rookie of the Year. There have been many great MLB players from Cuba, including a new generation of stars today, but it is hard to argue that there has been a better player from the island in MLB than Oliva.

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