Having fallen to Tsonga in the quarter finals at Wimbledon, the Swiss number one and world number four exorcised some demons, but ultimately failed to silence those who suggest the 16 time Grand Slam champion is on the slide. Instead, 2011 has been dominated by Serbian star Novak Djokovic, who stunned the tennis world in the early part of the year with a run of scintillating tennis, accumulating 43 consecutive victories – including the Australian Open final victory over Andy Murray- along with six other titles.
It took perhaps the match of the year, at the semi-finals of Roland Garros, to ultimately end the Djokovic juggernaut – the Serbian succumbing to the superb Federer in a 3 sets to 1 defeat. In an all too common occurrence however, Federer was powerless to prevent the man to beat on clay, Rafael Nadal, from amassing his 6th French Open title, with the Spaniard strolling to a 3 sets to 1 victory in his solitary grand slam of the year.
Djokovic quickly returned to form at Wimbledon however, disturbing the old axis of Nadal and Federer once again as he comprehensively made his way to the final, and upset the bookies by sending reigning champion Nadal reeling in the final with a 6-4 6-1 1-6 6-3 victory in impressive fashion. A remarkable year for the Serbian culminated in yet another major at the US open, defeating both Federer and Nadal to become only the 6th player in the history of the sport to win 3 grand slams in a year. Tennis legends such as Pete Sampras waxed lyrical over the new world number 1, claiming the feat to be ‘one of the best achievements in all of sports.’
Sole British interest Andy Murray endured yet another year of great promise, followed by immense disappointment and frustration in his quest for a first grand slam title. The Scot started the year well, reaching his 3rd grand slam final against Djokovic at the Australian open. However, symptomatic of his career to date, Murray failed to deliver when it mattered most, succumbing to a crushing straight sets defeat. Subsequent good runs at the French Open and Wimbledon – reaching semi-finals in both – has sustained hopes in Britain that Murray will one day achieve glory at a major finals.
Frustratingly, the rise of Djokovic at the time of a declining Roger Federer and some patchy Rafael Nadal form has prevented Murray becoming the successor to the world number one throne, yet at the tender age of 24 the Scot’s time will surely come sooner rather than later.
2011 has undoubtedly belonged to Novak Djokovic, and the ‘big four’ have largely dominated the major events as expected. However, those on the periphery such as Jo Wilfred Tsonga, David Ferrer and Juan Martin Del Potro will undoubtedly be looking to make a big impact in 2012, building on their good work this year.
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