When everyone thought that tennis 2022 would be the battle of Djokovic and the NextGen team, the revival of Rafael Nadal has changed the balance of power in the world tennis village.
Men’s tennis 2022 Exciting race Nadal vs Djokovic
On the day the NFL bid farewell to one of its legends, Tom Brady, in Melbourne, Rafael Nadal broke his tie with Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer with his 21st Grand Slam.
So close and so far away
A few months ago, no one doubted Novak Djokovic would become the greatest tennis player (GOAT) of felt ball. It was the time before the final of the US Open 2021, when Nole faced the opportunity to become the first player in more than half a century (Rod Laver 1969) to win the Calendar Slam. At that time, Nadal had to miss the whole season because of injury, and Federer had been on the other side of the slope for quite a while.
There are things that are difficult to explain about the obsession of an athlete when they are very close to the threshold of heaven, very close to the all-time record. Serena Williams, for example, when she won the 23rd Grand Slam at the Australian Open 2017, only 1 less than the record of the legendary Margaret Court.
But over the past half decade, Serena has not been able to win a Grand Slam again, despite playing 4 finals. It’s not known if Djokovic is as obsessed with it, but from the defeat to Medvedev at Flushing Meadows to the visa incident in Melbourne, there are big lessons to be learned. What else to think about between these two players? Serena’s last Grand Slam was when she was 35 years old, the same age as Djokovic is now.
But Serena’s only opponent is history, because among the players still competing, no one has won more than… 5 Grand Slams, but Djokovic has not. Federer may be out of date, but Nadal is not. We have all seen in Melbourne not the best Nadal, not the strongest Nadal physically, but the most unpredictable Nadal because of his great will and determination.
The willpower that once allowed him to live 16 years with a nagging pain in his foot, and return to top tennis after 6 months of not playing due to injury and Covid-19 infection. Winning 2-6, 6-7 (5), 6-4, 6-4, 7-5 is sure to be one of the most memorable matches of Rafa’s career.
Exciting race GOAT
Federer once came very close to the 21st Grand Slam when reaching the final of Wimbledon 2019, but lost to Djokovic. Among the Big Three now, he is also the most disadvantaged in the race to win the Grand Slam when the burden of age has fallen on these 41-year-old shoulders.
The focus of the GOAT race will now be the race between Nadal and Djokovic. The tired image of Nadal, with a physical style that is difficult to change is a prediction: The Spaniard will definitely have a hard time in the next Grand Slams when Djokovic and the NextGen team have enough determination and physical strength to overthrow him.
While Nole has class, experience, and willpower, Medvedev, Zverev, Tsitsipas… have plenty of time and they will be the remarkable spice in the GOAT race. Medvedev’s championship at the US Open 2021 is the second of the last 19 Grand Slam finals, a player outside of the Big Three is crowned.
Nearly 20 years have passed, many tennis players have risen and fallen, but the Big Three still dominate the felt ball village. When Nadal started to get noticed in 2003, Federer dominated (12/20 of his Grand Slams 2003-07). Then there was the great period of Nadal with 6 Grand Slams in 2008-10 (Federer also had 4 Grand Slams then).
Djokovic won his first Grand Slam title at the 2008 Australian Open, but the real domination period was 2011-16 with 11 Grand Slams. The GOAT race has undergone major changes in recent years, with Federer slowing down since the 2018 Australian Open, while Roland Garros remains a stronghold for Nadal
bringing him four Grand Slams in the 2017 period. -20, Djokovic showed his bravery and comprehensiveness to reach the 20 Grand Slam milestone. His biggest problem is probably the impact from outside the court, when the anti-vaccine move is a big obstacle, especially with the famous tournaments with tough regulations like the Australian Open, or Wimbledon.
In the immediate future, the championship race at Roland Garros 2022 will be very interesting and unpredictable: Will Djokovic return to successfully defend the throne? Will Nadal regain strength when he returns to “motherland”? Or will a representative of the NextGen generation step onto the podium?
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