Well that was a dramatic day, wasn’t it? We didn’t get the five set thrillers some of us were hoping for, but we did get some pretty great tennis – especially in the first semifinal vs. Djokovic and Tsonga and some pretty important statements being made.
Novak Djokovic beat Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 7-6 (4), 6-2, 6-7 (9), 6-3 in today’s most entertaining semifinal to make it to his first Wimbledon final and to guarantee that he’ll see a number 1 next to his name when the new world rankings come out on Monday. Let’s take a moment to appreciate this remarkable accomplishemtn: it’s the first time in over seven years that someone not named Roger or Rafa has held the ultimate spot in tennis. Seven long years.
And let’s take a moment to appreciate Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, who continues to rock our worlds:
Nole, who has long called becoming world No. 1 one of his childhood dreams, was ecstatic with his clutch win over the big hitting Frenchman. Via the ATP:
“It feels amazing,” said Djokovic. “When I finished the match I didn’t know how to show my emotions. I was really happy. This is one of those moments where you can’t describe it with the words. You remember all your career, all your childhood, everything you worked for, that comes true now.
“It’s definitely one of the most important achievements and days in my life, in my career. We are all dedicated to this sport [one] hundred per cent. When you know you’re going to be the best in the world and you’re reaching the finals of your favourite tournament, it’s something special.”
But how about winning Wimbledon? Isn’t that supposed to be every player’s dream? And all he has to do is beat defending champion Rafael Nadal, who – yes, in part due to injury in ’09 – has won 20 straight matches at the AELTC.
Rafael Nadal showed just how tough he is to beat, rallying after a disappointing start to his semifinal match and somehow demoralizing the guy who had both the crowd support and the first set going in his favor. The Spaniard took out Andy “best chance” Murray 5-7, 6-2, 6-2, 6-4 in a style so cruel and deflating to the Scot that Rafa felt the need to express his concern afterwards. Via USA Today:
“I feel sad for Andy,” he explained. “He deserved to be in this final, too. … I’m not a robot when I’m playing. I think. Andy probably deserved to be a Grand Slam winner. He’s the best player without a title of Grand Slam that I ever see. Always he was there: final in Australia; semifinals, Roland Garros; semifinals here another time. That’s tough. I understand, no?”
So Rafa has his mojo going along with the experience it takes to win this title. But Nole has the more immediate stats in his favor. His record for the year is a whopping 47 wins to 1 loss, and he’s beaten Rafa the past four times they’ve played – all the matches have been in high pressure Masters finals but none have been on grass.
It’s a touch pick ’em for the final, isn’t it? Rafa has the track record, yet Nole has the momentum in his favor. I hate to fall on tired sports cliches, but I really feel like it will be a matter of who wants it more. And in my mind, with Nole finally accomplishing one of his dreams – at current No. 1 Rafael Nadal’s expense, no less – it’s going to be Rafa who feels like the underdog on Sunday. And we all know how Rafa plays when he’s considered the underdog on grass. Yep, I pick the champ (going out on a limb, I know!)