Eternal Greatness Waiting for Novak Djokovic in 2012

In 2012, there’s no chance Novak Djokovic will win three Grand Slam titles. There’s no chance he has another year like his 2011 season, right? No chance he goes 70-6, winning ten tournaments, five of them Masters, right? The next year might mean an eternal legendary status for Djokovic, or a return to being just another one of the top four.

Thinking rationally, it’s nearly impossible to repeat a three Grand Slam year. Rafael Nadal has only achieved the three-slam once, Roger Federer is a different story, doing it three times in four years between 2004-2007, one of the more dominant stretches in the the history of tennis. But that’s Federer. Djokovic is different, and we’ll know by how much soon enough.

First of all there are those gunning for the crown, for the number one spot. After the US open, the inevitable fall came. At least it came at the right time, with the end of season tournaments to suffer the blow and not during the peak of the season. One of Djokovic’s most important factors in his 2011 success was his ability to remain healthy and know when to turn it on. Late in the season the injuries caught up with him, as the World Tour Finals in London proved.

Rafael Nadal did win another Roland Garros, but he got battered again and again by Novak, losing to the Serbian phenom six times in six finals, including two Grand Slam finals that were incredibly one sided for most of their duration. Nadal admitted more than once that these losses have shaken him up, leading to problems finding the passion and the fire late in the season. The Davis cup did that for him, like for Djokovic a year ago. This might be a sign of a Nadal return in 2011. However, Nadal started very strong in the 2011 Australian Open but eventually fell to his leg problems. The rest in known.

Roger Federer is always around. An impressive finish to 2011 gave Fed fans hope of a chance to see him win another Grand Slam title, although Federer has said more than once that his main goal in 2012 is winning an Olympic Gold. He has one in doubles play with Stanislas Warinka, and I think he wants a singles medal, like Nadal. He proved that he can produce the best-to-watch tennis of them all, although his consistency and incredible lapses in the losses to Djokovic and Tsonga proved more vulnerability in incredible yo-yo like matches with Federer moving from his perfect elegance to stretches of failing to get anything going for him.

Andy Murray is another mystery, but as another years goes by and the promise of the Grand Slam title is again unfulfilled, you have to wonder. He reaches the Semi Finals, but always falls to Nadal. His abysmal showing in London last month got even more criticism from Federer, who never liked Murray anyway. There’s not too much love between Federer and Djokovic as well, but with Novak gobbling up almost every possible title, as Federer was the only one who stood in Djokovic’s way from completing the Grand Slam in one year, it’s hard to criticize.

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Novak won more money than anyone ever before, but that’s hardly enough motivation. It’s about a place in history, and at the top of the Tennis world. Djokovic fixed some aspects of his game this year, especially mentally. Never breaking, seemingly stronger as the matches progresses. Sometimes, he needed miracles like in the US Open semi final against Federer. Luck is always part of the equation.

It’s lonelier, harder at the top. Novak Djokovic came into two-three of the Slam tournaments this season as the #2 or #3 favorite. This season will begin with him as the undisputed #1, with everyone waiting for his fall. Chances are it’ll happen, perhaps even sooner than later. How dominant can this guy be? But maybe he has an extra something, and these last two months were enough to charge his batteries, gearing him up for another onslaught on the major titles of the tennis world.