First published 22/06/2012
On Monday the third grand slam event of the year begins, attempting to step out of the shadow of Euro2012. And, in many ways this Wimbledon will be much the same as previous years. The BBC has released flashy adverts that still look nothing like tennis; the commentators are sure to say some inane facts about how many strawberries will be eaten; and Tim Henman’s presence on TV will reassure people that everything is right with the world. The same as always. But will the duopoly of Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal continue?
Djokovic and Nadal have dominated tennis recently: winning the last nine grand slam tournaments – a run stretching back to Roger Federer’s win at the 2010 Australian Open. Some people see this domination as a good thing, as we are seeing two of the greatest players ever at their peak, and it can be argued that rivalries, such as this one, define sporting eras. Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier; Alain Prost and Ayrton Senna; Bjorn Borg and John McEnroe; are all synonymous with the great eras of their respective sports. Regrettably though, considering the supremely high standard of tennis on offer, I have to admit that the Djokovic-Nadal rivalry now bores me.
I don’t have anything against either player, in fact I have always had a soft spot for Djokovic as he seems like a nice chap, but the repetition of them two competing at the top over and over again is getting a bit too much for me. That I would see 16-time Grand Slam winner Roger Federer as an interesting break from the norm, says it all. I do though understand that the majority of tennis fans in the UK only pay attention to the sport when Wimbledon is on – Andy Murray’s defeat to David Ferrer at the French Open averaged only 800,000 viewers. And as Nadal has only won Wimbledon twice and Djokovic just the once, either winning would not be considered too repetitive for most of the British public.
However, I do watch a lot of tennis and I quite fancy a change. It is difficult to look beyond Djokovic and Nadal though, so if I had to bet some money I would put it on Djokovic: he just seems to be able to win when he shouldn’t. If I were to tip an outsider it would be Jo-Wilfried Tsonga as he reached the semi-finals in 2011 and he is in the Murray-Nadal side of the draw which might be easier. Hopefully someone, maybe Tsonga, will be able to stop the two at the top.