REUTERS/Christinne Muschi via Daylife
Novak Djokovic’s 6-2, 3-6, 6-4 win over No. 1 American Mardy Fish in Sunday’s Montreal Masters final was impressive, even if you didn’t know that history was in the making. Fish had nine chances to break the new World No. 1 in the first two sets – when he finally converted one he became the only player to take a set off the Serb this tournament – and was playing like he didn’t realize that Nole had lost only one match all year.
“I felt like I had an opportunity today, I really did,” Fish said (via the ATP). “I had a lot of chances in that first set, ended up losing 6-2 early. If you try to forget who you’re playing against, you’re just playing another player, maybe you can figure out a way to get a break or two there. I had a lot of shots early in that first set on my racquet that I’d like to have back.”
But Fish couldn’t forget, completely, and couldn’t summon up his best tennis against the best player on tour when it really mattered. Even Nole was a bit intimidated by the moment – and his own great accomplishments.
“I was more nervous than in the previous matches today,” admitted Djokovic. “There was a lot of tension going on. . .”
Novak’s Rogers Cup title is his fifth Masters 1000 title of the season. No other player has ever won as many in a year. He’s won every Masters event he’s played in 2011, the first four victories coming over Rafael Nadal. Perhaps just as staggering, Nole’s the only active player to win his first tournament back after becoming No. 1 in the world.
Djokovic is now 53-1 for the season and appears to be unable to lose a match – he tried on Sunday and just couldn’t remember how to do it.
“I am human—I can definitely assure you of that,” he tried convincing reporters (via Tennis.com). “I guess it’s just all about having a positive attitude on the court every day, waking up every day wanting to improve, wanting to win, being determined, being professional. It’s that desire and motivation that keeps me going. Every match I play, I try to win, regardless which match is it or whoever is across the net.”
I agree with writer Steve Tignor’s take on Nole: he’s starting to resemble Federer in his Invincible prime. The victories feel almost as effortless as Fed circa 2005 and even more inevitable. As for human, Nole reminds me more and more of this old Lacoste spot. The future is now, folks:
Some highlights from Sunday’s final:
In more good news for Serbs/bad news for American tennis fans: the pairing of Zimonjic/Llodra beat the Bryan brothers for the doubles title.
REUTERS/Mark Blinch via Daylife
On the ladies side, Serena Williams has put together her own winning streak. It’s not as impressive as Nole’s, in terms of sheer numbers, but it is every bit as meaningful. Her 6-4, 6-2 victory over Sam Stosur in Toronto on Sunday earned her her first Rogers Cup title since 2001 and her second title in two weeks (she won the title in Stanford.) This is just her fourth tournament since returning to the tour after a year-long injury layoff. She’s been back, but now Sheee’s Baaack.
“Being down the way I’ve been down and coming back, it was cool. Eight months ago if there was only one tournament I wanted to win, it was Toronto,” Williams said (via Tennis.com). “For whatever reason, I really wanted to win this event. So seeing it come true is really cool. Just going through so much and being able to win is even more amazing.”
Ranked 80 in the world when she arrived in Toronto, Serena is now No. 31 and officially worthy of a US Open seeding. The rest of the top players are fist pumping right now.
The new pairing of Liezel Huber and Lisa Raymond won their first WTA tour doubles title in Toronto when Victoria Azarenka and Maria Kirilenko gave them a walkover (Azarenka with a hand injury.)
The top men and women are already ankle deep in the next big tournament – the Western and Southern Open combined Masters/Premier event in Cincinnati. I’m thrilled to have Andrea Nay back on board this year. She’ll be contributing her original stories and photographs from Cincy.