Djokovic once again proved why he is the number 1 player in the world. He came through in a cliffhanger of a game against Rafael Nadal in 5 sets. The game was a perfect ending for a great tournament in which the top 3 ruled the roost again. Nadal who played a brilliant match in the semis to knock out Roger Federer lost out in the finals to the brilliant Djokovic. Novak Djokovic who had a brilliant 2011 continued in the same vein by winning the first grand slam of the year.
The game itself was a see-saw ride for the fans. Nadal started well by winning the first set 7-5 but Djokovic came back to dominate the next two sets 6-4, 6-2. At the end of the third set Nadal looked down and out but put in one last great effort to win the 4th in a tie breaker 7-6 to push the game into the 5th. Djokovic though held his nerve to clinch the final set 7-5 to win the match and the title.
It was a brilliant start for Djokovic in 2012 but for Nadal this was yet another loss to the Serbian in a grand slam. Nadal will now want to wait for his favorite surface at the Roland Garros for revenge if at all they face each other in the finals.
Leander’s Career slam:
Leander Paes finally won the Australian open to complete the career slam. This was the only title which was missing from his resume and he will be relieved that he finally got the monkey of his back. Leander and Stepanek were unseeded in this tournament and were brilliant in the finals. The Bryan brothers were chasing their 12 doubles title which would have given them the record currently held by the woodies and it was understandable that only a special effort from their opponent can deny them the prize. Leander and Stepanek were absolutely brilliant in the finals and provided no opening for the number 1 pair in both the sets.
The Paes/Stepanek pair had defeated the number 2 and number 3 seeds on their way to the finals which would for sure have given them a huge boost. It was a great tournament for Leander and he deserves the career slam. It would have been particularly sweet win for him as he had lost to the Bryan brothers at least 3 times in the finals of the Australian open in the past. Kudos to the Indian legend and I hope that he wins more titles this year and continues to succeed at the world level.
Overall it was a great open and the weather was fantastic throughout. The men’s tennis once again proved the domination of the top 3 as they ended up in the Semis once again. Roger, Nadal and Djokovic have dominated the slams over the past year or so and it will be great to see others stepping up in the remaining 3 slams in 2012.
Somdev acknowledges the crowd after becoming the first Indian to win a gold in Asian Games in Singles
Somdev Devvarman became the first Indian to win a gold in Tennis in the Asian Games singles event. He also became the first Indian to win two gold medals in Asian games history. Just a month ago he had won Gold in the Commonwealth games, also becoming the first Indian to do so. This has been a brilliant year for Somdev as he broke into the top 100 for the first time in his career and also has won 2 gold medals in two major events representing India.
He had also led India to the world group in Davis cup earlier this year. History beckoned Somdev when he stepped on the court in the finals against Uzbekistan’s Dennis Istomin who is ranked 44 in the world and the Indian ace did not disappoint. It was a lopsided final as the Indian won it comfortably with a score line of 6-1, 6-2. The win gave Somdev his second gold in the Asian games to go with 1 bronze which he had won earlier in the team event.
Speaking to the media after his historic win an ecstatic Somdev said, “I am very, very happy to get the gold here. It’s a dream come true. No one comes to an Asian Games with the intention of winning two gold medals. Representing the country gives me the greatest pleasure,”
A brilliant year for a fantastic player and I hope that he can repeat the same success in the world events in the coming year. With this brilliant performance Somdev has for sure become India’s “Golden Man”.
Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi have made it to the season ending World Tour doubles Finals with their respective partners. Rohan Bopanna though misses out on a chance to complete with the world’s best doubles teams as he and Qureshi failed to qualify for the mega event. Leander Paes and Lukas Dlouhy have been placed in Group A and Mahesh Bhupathi and Max Mirnyi have been placed in group B.
Leander and Dlouhy have to contend with the top seeded Bryan brothers in their group whereas Mahesh and Mirnyi have the second seeded Nestor/Zimonjic pair. It is brilliant to see both these players participating in the London Finals and I hope that both of them do well. It will be great if one of them wins the title this year. This is probably one title which is missing from the resume of these two greats. Best of luck to both Bhupathi and Paes and hopefully we will see one of them emerge victorious at the end of it.
Just few years back, India tennis was all about Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi. They held the hopes of an entire nation for a long time until Sania Mirza arrived on the scene. She was probably the first tennis icon for the current generation to look up to. Sania broke into the top 30 and gave us the hopes that probably this time we will see a Indian player in the top 10. In the last couple of years though her carrier has taken a nose dive and she is nowhere near her best anymore. Her ranking over this time has had a free fall from the top 30 to 166 where she is currently perched.
While Leander and Mahesh still battle on, we have new players on the scene giving some hope to the tennis fans in India. Somdev Devvarman is one of them. He became the first Indian player to win an individual gold in Tennis for India in Commonwealth games and also broke into top 100 this year. Then there is the young Yuki Bhambri who has just started to wet his foot in the professional world. While Somdev Devvarman takes over from Leander as India’s flag bearer in the Davis Cup, Yuki Bhambri has the making of being the first top tennis player from India.
Even though the singles scene is still uncertain with how the careers of both Somdev and Yuki will pan out, the doubles though has been healthier as ever. Leander and Mahesh have always been in the top 10 pairs in the world with their respective partners, the sudden raise of Rohan Bopanna should give the Indians additional hope. His partnership with Qureshi from Pakistan has grown leaps and bounds this year. They are in fact in contention for the Masters event later this year in which the top 8 doubles team participates every year. With Leander already qualified for the masters event, the battle will be between Bhupathi and Bopanna for the 7th and 8th spot. It will be wonderful if both of them can make it.
If that happens I guess this will be the first time when 3 Indian players will be participating in the year end Masters event. The rise of Bopanna and Qureshi has been amazing as the pair made giant strides in the last couple of years to reach the top 10 in the rankings. Amidst the animosity between the two countries, it’s great to see a Indo-Pak pair do so well as a team in world tennis. If only the others can learn something from this pair and understand that in spite of all the differences we can still work together for a peaceful existence.
So with just couple of months to go the battle is on. Bhupathi/Mirnyi pair has now climbed up to the 6th spot, strengthening their hopes of qualifying for the Masters. It will be up to Bopanna and Qureshi to raise their game to grab one of the final two spots. It has been a great year for Indian tennis and it seems like once Leander and Mahesh hang up their boots, Indian fans will still have something to look forward to in Tennis.