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MARCH 2011 VOL 36 No. 3
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A Time to Shine Novak Djokovic is born for the spotlight – and he’s no longer the support act as he wins hearts and titles on the ATP Tour.
What Next for the Williams’? Will injury spell an end to the star-studded careers of Venus and Serena Williams or will the prolific champions return stronger than ever?
A Champion’s Recovery R afael Nadal returned to the winner’s circle by collecting the Laureus Sportsman of the Year prize – and now the injured champion is returning to the court too.
Wheel of Fortune T he inspirational Esther Vergeer is not only the highest achieving player in tennis, but possibly the best-performing athlete in world sport.
Australian Tennis Magazine | March 2011
MARCH 2011 REGULARS 7
FROM THE EDITOR ner surrender atching the 16-time ma jor win s Roger Federer finished? W ai final, you to Novak Djokovic in the Dub a third match in recent history se three ecially when you consider tho couldn’t help but wonder. Esp mpions. contrast between the two cha matches highlight a growing -set semi-final tch points in a marathon five In New York, Federer held ma set; in Dubai, he kept up yet couldn’t claim a in New York; in Australia, he ,6-3 loss that saw contest in an error-riddled 6-3 never appeared to be in the 12 matches for the season. Djokovic claim his 12th win in losses to the t the onl y player dishing out And Djokovic, remember, isn’ Andy Murray, Tomas al maintains his clear edge, Swiss star. While Rafael Nad who ended ton Hewitt are among others Berdych, Gael Monfils and Lley nts in 2010. Federer’s hopes at various eve g his historyg Federer’s hopes of revivin Not that the losses are affectin to retain his world spoke of his fierce ambition making career. In Dubai, he , he added, a playing 2012 London Olympics – and No. 1 ranking and a focus on end well beyond it. future that will hopefully ext ry; squash, skiing eme in guarding against inju At age 29, Federer is also extr he’ll plays beside abandoned. The onl y sport and even golf have all been besides tennis?) nis (and is that even a sport tennis these days is table ten glory, but we could ch effort to retain his former Some would call it a last-dit cluded his 2010 desperate one. Federer con also stop short of calling it a s in London and son-ending ATP Championship season with victory at the sea those recent first 2011 event in Doha. Among collected his first title in his of Basel. s in London and in the final losses to Djokovic are also win , and as he finds erer has established though It’s all about the standard Fed 3, it’s hard to dispute m for the first time since 200 himself without a Grand Sla Nadal’s closest rival. r, who is gradually becoming ere Fed not ic, kov Djo it’s t tha
VIVIENNE CHRISTIE, Editor
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Australian Tennis Magazine | March 2011
A Time to Shine Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer still occupy the top two rankings places but Novak Djokovic is no longer a support act as he wins titles, hearts and future bragging rights in the men’s game. By Jeremy Styles
irst the racquet was thrown into the stands. Then the wrist bands were peeled off and tossed in the same direction. Those who chanted and cheered him on to victory were rewarded with a shirt and then one by one, came the shoes, also flicked to adoring fans. Later there’d be dancing, champagne and signing with his supporters. When it comes to Grand Slam celebrations, nobody quite does it like Novak Djokovic. But if Djokovic’s Australian Open victory celebrations once again showcased his colourful personality, it was the post-match victory speech that highlighted his true depth of character. Sensitive and respectful to his fallen opponent, glowing in his accolades for the tournament and its staff, astute in thanking tournament sponsors, gracious in acknowledging his team and heartfelt as he remembered victims of recent flood disasters. Then there was the dedication of the title itself, in which gratitude for those people closest to Djokovic was carefully interwoven with an enduring passion for his broader community. “I dedicate this title to my family, my brothers and my girlfriend Jelena back home, my people that have been with me for so many years,” he said. “For so many years there has been a tough time for our people in Serbia but we are trying, every single day, to present our country in the 14
Australian Tennis Magazine | March 2011
best possible way, so this is for my country.” And as the fans cheered, there was one indisputable fact: if Djokovic hadn’t completely won the crowd over in claiming his first Grand Slam title at Australian Open 2008, he had certainly done it this time around. That grace continued in the post match press conference, where Djokovic again underlined his respect for his good friend
success. They’re the two most dominant players in the game for a while. All the credit to them. “It’s nice to see that there are some new players in the later stages of Grand Slams fighting for a title. That’s all I can say.” It was hard to ignore the contrasts between this gracious Djokovic and the passionate trailblazer who’d claimed the same Grand Slam title three years
“I feel like a more experienced player … physically I’m stronger, I’m faster, mentally I’m more motivated on the court. I know how to react in certain moments and I know how to play on a big stage.” Murray “because I think he has everything what it takes to become a Grand Slam champion.” Despite the fact this was the first Grand Slam final in three years not to feature at least one of the world’s top two men, the newly crowned champion also spoke cautiously when asked if his second Grand Slam title spelled an end to the dominance of Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer. “Still Rafa and Roger are the two best players in the world. No question about that,” he insisted. “You can’t compare my success and Murray’s success to their
earlier. While Djokovic himself wasn’t the one making bold predictions at the time, some wild-eyed celebrations and frenzied exchanges with fans and media only added to the hype generated by some big statements from his closest supporters. “This is the moment we’ve been waiting for,” his mother, Dijana, told reporters the day after her son’s 2008 breakthrough. “This is the first of many Grand Slams. You need to remember that. Write it down.” There would be no such audacity from the Djokovic camp in 2011. Symbolically, perhaps, parents and younger brothers
Australian Tennis Magazine | March 2011
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