Weekend Wrap: Groundhog Year
I feel like this is one of those situations where we should all stop what we’re doing, and give a rousing rendition of “IT’S THE CIRCLE OF LIFEEEEEEE…” while rubbing our nuzzles against each other like Simba and Mufasa.
Another tournament. Another win for Djokovic. By now, more than one commentator has pointed out how this 2011 for Satan is panning out to be the tennistical equivalent of 2006 for Federer.
But even Federer has never won every single Masters tournament for a year. Even Federer has never made it to February with just the one loss.
One part of the parallel, however, does ring true: it’s not that Djokovic 2011 or Federer 2006 haven’t struggled. Countless times this year, Djokovic had strayed closer to defeat than the ultimate results have suggested. Watching Djokovic get taken into a third set by Farty today, I was reminded of Federer at the same tournament in 2006, losing the first set 2-6 to the Baby Fed.
For the vast majority of the first two sets, neither Djokovic 2011 nor Federer 2006 was necessarily the better player. Yet they seemed to be both coated in a balm of victory, protected by the aura that comes with every winning streak, making it that much easier to dig themselves out of a deficit, and that much harder for their opponents to concentrate on the tennis at hand when their nostrils are filled with the excessive stench of success.
Perhaps this is why Federer has been the only one to beat Djokovic this year. He understands more so than anyone right now what this balm of victory masks – the struggles, the close shaves and the insecurities of a player that become irrelevant after victory, but nevertheless don’t just disappear. Certain flaws in strategy and game cannot be permanently cured. They lurk just beyond the surface of invincibility, waiting for just for one final nudge to be pushed over the edge into defeat.
But for now, Djokovic wobbled, struggled, and once again came through, like wrinkles smoothed over in a table cloth. Invincibility intact.
2011 of course isn’t just a Groundhog Year for Djokovic, for over on the vaginal side of things, Serena Williams is roaring at yet another comeback just as we think to ourselves “surely, surely she can’t keep doing this forever”.
With a 64 62 win over Sam Stosur in Toronto, Serena moves to the top of the US Open Series leader board and to No 31 in the rankings – just enough to be seeded for the US Open. And the terrifyingly beautiful part is that she is still not quite at her best yet.
Fast forward another 5 years, and you just wonder if she’ll still be out there at the age of 35, chewing up teenage minions for thrills while playing just at her 75%.
Perhaps more significant than “another win for Ms Williams” is that fact that Sam Stosur made it into the final at all. She had been fading steadily into irrelevance in 2011, and a finals run in Toronto served to remind everyone, not only of the fact that she still exists, but also that this is typically one of her most successful parts of the season off clay.
But even on this surface, there was nothing Stosur could’ve done that Serena could not have done better. Even on this surface, Sam Stosur was no match for the script written by the Tennis Deities above, put on repeat time and time again: Serena Williams is ready to take the US Open once more.