By Josh Kramer
Back on June 3, 2011, Novak Djokovic was riding a 43-match winning streak and taking the tennis world by storm. He had cruised into the French Open semifinals and was set to take on arguably the greatest player in the history of tennis, Roger Federer. Rafael Nadal anxiously awaited in the finals as he looked to capture his sixth French Open championship. To Nadal’s delight, Roger Federer shocked the world, and ended the seemingly invincible Novak Djokovic’s remarkable streak (Nadal has always owned Federer on the clay).
Fast forward to 2012. Novak Djokovic is the unquestioned number one player in the world these days. He has won 26 straight matches at Grand Slam tournaments, and he finds himself just two matches away from the “Djoker Slam” (winning all four in a row). To Novak’s disdain, a familiar opponent is awaiting in the semifinals. Both Federer and Djokovic survived thrilling five-setters yesterday to set up a very highly anticipated rematch. Luckily for both players, they have the luxury of two off days before they take center stage at Philippe Chatrier.
It is no secret that Novak has been laboring as of late. He has gone five sets in each of his last two matches, including having to dig out of a two sets to zero hole in the round of 16, and having to save four match points yesterday. The rest is much-needed. And as you are all aware, Federer still has the heart of a champion, but he is not getting any younger. It is not too often that you see a 30-year-old come out victorious against a player as talented as del Potro, after going down two sets to zero.
Now the real question is can lightning strike? Sure Federer is having a very impressive 2012 thus far, with four tournament victories and an outstanding 31 and 4 record heading into the French Open. Djokovic is no slouch himself, currently holding the number one ranking and entering the tournament with a 30 and 5 record on the year. Federer was a heavy underdog last year heading into his semifinal match versus Djokovic. Which is an oxymoron when one really thinks about it. Roger Federer an underdog? Those two words don’t really belong in the same sentence ever. Well Federer will be an underdog on Thursday as well.
Federer miraculously ended Djokovic’s remarkable 43-match win streak last year. Will he now end Djokovic’s attempt at the “Djoker Slam” and his 26-match Grand Slam win streak? Don’t count on it. Lightning striking once is very rare as it did a year ago. Lightning striking twice is unheard of.
Stay tuned for the next edition of TheSportsKraze.