As a thin lad from Serbia lobbed the ball over the mighty Swiss, who ferociously chased it down and produced one of the most iconic shots of the decade- Tweener- the Serb at the net had absolutely no clue what had just happened. Bamboozled by the greatness of his opponent, he could only drag himself back to play the next point . Well, that was about six years ago.
Novak Djokovic has come a long way from that straight sets defeat at the US Open’09 semis, he now holds three of the four majors and has added nine more slams to his kitty.
A lot of fuss has been about his place in the history, is he the greatest of all time- well certainly not as of now- Will he surpass Federer, whose critics claim that he won majority of majors in a less competitive era, something they’re fond of terming as the ‘Weak Era’.
They are also inclined to believe that Novak has emerged as the gladiator of this Golden Era- an era that has witnessed the Big Four, and this theory pretty much fits in the head of every tennis fan.
But what they fail to mention is that era has been over for almost two years now. No matter how finely Federer has been ageing, he runs out of steam in the best of five encounters against the Serb, Rafa is trying to regain ground after his comeback and the Scot has no clue what he’s doing when tossed against this Serbian mutant.
Djokovic has won his last 4 slams in a much weaker era- if something like that even exists- than what Federer did in his prime. Federer had to deal with his nemesis Nadal, and the most promising of talents, Novak and Murray.
Try comparing a Nishikori, a Kyrgios or Dimitrov of 2015 to a Murray or Novak of 2008. That’s how strong this Golden Era- is as compared to Federer’s Weak one! There is hardly anyone who you could bet on to beat Novak consistently. And if you consider a Hewitt, Roddick or Safin putting up a ‘weak’ show, well then it’s pretty obvious you never watched them play.
A famous journalist believes that there’s nothing like a weak era, a player lifts his game to a certain level according to his opponents. Novak has found a new level, something which Federer did in 2004-2007 and for sure the former has a much easier journey ahead of him, unless of-course Rafa finds his rhythm back and Murray does justice to his potential- not just utter out vague words after losing every single point, the likes of Wawrinka or any other guy, are too inconsistent to cast any threat.
Cherish what Novak has been doing in recent years, but stating that he’s better than Roger because he won in a tougher era, is a berserk thing to say. How can the best of the Golden Era-at the peak of his powers, lose to a man of the weak era- in the twilight of his career, like the way he did in Cincinnati?
Federer had his time, Rafa did and now it’s Novak’s turn to write some history for himself. Comparing these three is easy at the moment, you put them in the same order of greatness as they’re mentioned. The tables might turn a few years later.
After the period of Federer’s elegance and majestic display to Nadal’s ruthless and unbreachable defense, it’s time we witness Novak’s machining consistency. The debate of eras can be kept on hold.
Watches tennis, cricket and football. Mostly tennis.