The year Roger Federer is having, his preseason goals seem ridiculously low as a return to No. 1 seems possible

3-18-17 Roger

By Leighton Ginn

When Roger Federer returned to the court to start the year, he didn’t know where his level would be following knee surgery and six months off the tour.

So the man many think is the greatest tennis player ever said he wanted to keep things simple — play well and enjoy himself.

After winning the Australian Open and reaching the finals of the BNP Paribas Open for the seventh time after beating American Jack Sock 6-1, 7-6 in Saturday’s semifinals. If Federer beats fellow Swiss star Stan Wawrinka in Sunday’s final, he will become the tournament’s winningest player with his fifth title, breaking a tie with Novak Djokovic.

Jack Sock continues his good vibes at BNP Paribas Open, this time in singles

Djokovic, the No. 2 player in the world, has  won the previous three titles before being upset in the fourth round.

But if you look around the men’s tour, no one is playing better than Federer, who won his 18th Grand Slam title at the Australian Open to start the year. He had a hiccup in Dubai, when he lost to No. 116 Evgeny Donskoy in the second round. But in the two biggest tournaments of the year so far, he’s reached the finals.

Doppelganger 1: tennis player Jack Sock, Josh Homme of Queens of the Stone Age

And looking around the tour, Djokovic and No. 1 Andy Murray both failed to reach the quarterfinals of both the Australian Open and the BNP Paribas Open. Earlier on Saturday, Murray announced he will miss the Miami Open, another huge event, with an elbow injury. There is also speculation that Djokovic will also miss Miami with his own elbow injury.

No. 1 Andy Murray faces lots of questions, has few answers after another early loss at BNP Paribas Open

But Federer said he set a goal of seeing where he is at following Miami, and was judging on how well he’s playing and how he’s enjoying himself on the tour.

“(It’s about) how can I remain healthy and how can I keep the fire and the motivation for the tournaments that I will be playing,” Federer said. “What I don’t want to do is overplay and just get tired of traveling and tired of just playing tournaments and just entering and, I don’t know, just doing people a favor just to be there with no aspirations. That’s not why I’m playing.

“I want to play, if people see me, that they see the real me and a guy who is so excited that he’s there. So that’s a promise I made to myself that if I play tournaments that’s how my mindset has to be and will be.”

Nick Kyrgios doesn’t think he’s a bad guy, if you put it in perspective

But with the winning comes possibilities, such as Federer returning to the No. 1 ranking. Because Federer doesn’t anticipate playing a heavy schedule, so he knows there will be an even higher premium on wins and titles.

“Sure, I’d love to be world No. 1 again. But anything else other than world No. 1 for me is not interesting,” Federer said. “You would think I would need to win probably another Grand Slam for that to happen. Because I have one in the bag, I guess there is a possibility.”

 

 

Nick Kyrgios doesn’t think he’s a bad guy, if you put it in perspective

3-15-17 Kyrgios

 

By Leighton Ginn

Tennis fans who know about Nick Kyrgios are not ambivalent about him: They either love him and the sublime talent he posses, or they get annoyed by his antics.

There were the comments to Stan Wawrinka about his girlfriend and another player, or the accusations of tanking matches. Commentator John McEnroe has harshly criticized Kyrgios for his lack of dedication to the sport, once suggesting he retire.

“I don’t think I’m a bad guy at all. Honestly, like, I have had a couple of mix-ups in the court, but that’s in the heat of the battle, but that’s when you’re competing or you’re angry,” Kyrgios said. “Off the court, I haven’t done anything against the law. I haven’t drink-drive, haven’t shot someone, I haven’t stolen. I’m not a bad person. In the scheme of things, you put it in perspective, I’m really not a bad person.”

If he’s not bad, he does have his moments.

But the talent is there.

Kyrgios recorded his second consecutive victory against No. 2 Novak Djokovic in two tournaments. He’s also picked up wins against Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. Of the three, they have a combined 44 Grand Slam singles titles.

“I’m very impressed him taking out Novak, back-to-back weeks, on Novak’s best surface,” said Federer, who will face Kyrgios in the quarterfinals of the BNP Paribas Open on Friday. “I hope it’s going to lead to something great for Nick that he realizes if he puts his head down and focuses (so) that he can bring it day in and day out, week in and week out.

“That’s maybe going to take a bit more time … because when it matters the most against the best and in finals, he’s there. Eventually he will need that, but that’s a great quality to have already now.”

For fans who overlook the behavior, Kyrgios also has a go-for-broke style that will endear people. On Wednesday, Kyrgios remained aggressive with his second serves to keep Djokovic at bay.

“I have lost some matches from it. I have won some matches from it. I’m okay if I go for it,” Kyrgios said. “It’s a high percentage for me to go big under pressure. That’s my game style. If I miss, I miss, but I know I went down playing my game.”

 

Roger Federer cruises past Rafael Nadal in 68 minutes to advance to quarters

3-15-17 Roger

 

By Leighton Ginn

INDIAN WELLS — After having some difficult moments the day before against Steve Johnson, Roger Federer just anticipated he would have his hands full against long-time rival Rafael Nadal.

As it turned out, it was one of his most dominant.

Federer needed just 68 minutes to beat Nadal in a surprisingly easy 6-2, 6-3 victory Wednesday in the fourth round of the BNP Paribas Open.

The ease was surprising, considering the two played a five-set classic at the Australian Open. Federer needed to rally in the fifth set to pick up his record 18th Grand Slam singles title.

“It was all about coming out and trying to play the way I did in Australia,” Federer said. “I didn’t think it was going to be that possible, to be quite honest, because the court is more jumpy here or more rough, so it’s hard to put the ball away.

“I said yesterday it was more a sprint than a marathon. So getting in the lead was crucial, and then staying on the offense and pressing was the goal for me.”

Federer will advance to the quarterfinals where he will face rising young star Nick Kyrgios, who upset No.2 Novak Djokovic for the second consecutive tournament and snapped his 19-match winning streak at Indian Wells, which included three consecutive titles.

While the Australian Open will go down as a classic match in a legendary rivalry, Wednesday’s match wasn’t as intriguing as Federer won so convincingly.

But over the last 24 hours, Federer didn’t think he could have such a commanding performance against Nadal, particularly after his struggles in a 7-6, 7-6 victory over Steve Johnson the day before.

“I don’t think we had quite the rhythm that we had in Australia, but we knew that going in. And I think he, especially from the baseline, he didn’t control the ball as well as he did in Australia,” Federer said. ” I actually surprised myself by the control I had on the baseline because, against Steve Johnson, I really struggled to control the ball. So I thought it was going to be even more crazy against Rafa with his spin and his lefty hook and everything. It was going to be much tougher.

“In practice this morning I hardly made any returns. I didn’t know what was going on. I thought it was going to be rough.  But then I came into the match and I warmed up with Rafa. In those five minutes, I was like, ‘whew, I’m feeling pretty good and the spin is not bothering me so much.’ So I wondered why that is. And that stayed like this during the match, as well.”

 

 

Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, a classic rivalry that will be contested on hump day, not championship weekend

3-14-17 Federer

 

By Leighton Ginn

It is a rivalry that has had historical implications and established Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal as two of the greatest players who ever played tennis.

So their showdown at the BNP Paribas Open will be unusual in that it will be contested on Hump Day, not championship weekend.

In a rare early-round matchup, Federer and Nadal will face ether other for the 36th time on Wednesday.

” I think everybody is going to watch that match, honestly,” said Garbine Muguruza, the women’s No. 7 seed. “Everybody likes Rafa. Everybody likes Roger. It’s history over there.”

Nadal defeated fellow Spaniard Fernando Verdasco 6-3, 7-5, while Federer outlasted former USC star Steve Johnson 7-6 (3), 7-6 (4) to set up the rematch of their Australian Open final.

For Federer, he welcomes the challenge.

“That’s why I came here, play against guys like Rafa,” said Federer, who won an epic five-set final over Nadal in the Australian Open final. “I’m going to be excited now. Better be excited now. Otherwise I came for the wrong reasons.”

Giving the conditions and the round they are playing in, Federer said the match will be much different from their Australian Open final. Based on the round, Federer expects himself and Nadal to be a little more conservative.

“It’s going to be more difficult for both of us just to rip winners into the corner,” Federer said. “If you play at the early matches, you see usually the top guys not chase the lines so much. You give yourself some margins for error, really.

“So there is a bit of the unknown, which, I mean, is exciting maybe for the fans or you guys to see how we’re going to try to figure that part out. And then it’s a best-of-three-set match. This is more of a sprint than a marathon, not like in Australia.”

It is the first time they’ve faced each other before the quarterfinals since their first meeting in 2004 at Miami. That was a round of 32 match.

Nadal said he didn’t really enjoy having an epic rivalry played out in the fourth round. But when the draws came out last week, this quarter of the draw featured not only Nadal and Federer, but No. 2 Novak Djokovic, 2009 U.S. Open champion Juan Martin del Potro. A few times in the press conferences, this quarter of the draw has been referred to as the “Draw of Death.”

“I think is unlucky part of the draw for everybody. I think part of the tournament, even if they can have good matches, is probably not the best thing to have that matches that early in the tournament. For the players is not good, because good players, for sure, going to go out early,” Nadal said. “Sometimes if top players are playing well, then they have the chance to go to the final rounds, no? In this case, doesn’t matter if everybody is playing well, because from our part of the draw, only one of us gonna be in that semifinals.

“So that’s tough, but that’s not happening every week. Only thing we can do to avoid that is be in higher position of the ranking.”

While Nadal might not be happy with the timing of the matchup, Muguruza said she’s just happy to see the match up again.

“Nobody cares who wins anymore. It’s just I want to see them play,” Muguruza said. “It’s so good to watch them play together same time on the court. Doesn’t matter. I just want to watch the match. I’m so fond of both of them. It’s so good they have this match tomorrow.”

 

 

 

 

Novak Djokovic wins opener, will face man who handed him a disappointing loss in the 2016 Olympics

3-12-17 Novak Djokovic

By Leighton Ginn

In 2016, Novak Djokovic had reached a career pinnacle, becoming the first man to complete a Grand Slam since Rod Laver did it in 1969.

Yet a few months later, he might have suffered his most disappointing loss of 2016 during a slumping second half of the year.

In the first round of the Olympics, Djokovic suffered a stunning first-round loss to Juan Martin del Potro, 7-6, 7-6.

“I felt like at that stage of my life, my career, that’s when I was playing my best tennis. Winning Toronto before that, everything was fine, and then just unfortunate circumstances as result of that,” Djokovic said, saying he had suffered a wrist injury prior to the match. “Surely I wanted things to go differently. But at the end of the day, I try to be grateful for whatever comes my way, because I know it comes with a reason.

“So after that, obviously I was not up to standard of the results that I have had in previous years. You know, last couple of months of ’16 were tough for me emotionally. I was struggling on the court to really find that comfort, find the confidence, as well.”

Djokovic will get another shot at del Potro, the 2009 US Open champion sometime Tuesday in the third round of the BNP Paribas Open. In the second round, Djokovic defeated Kyle Edmund 6-4, 7-6 (5), while del Potro defeated fellow Argentinian Federic Delbonis 7-6 (5), 6-3.

Two weeks ago in Acapulco, Djokovic defeated del Potro 4-6, 6-4, 6-4.

“I have to give it all. That’s what it takes to beat this guy, who is – even though he is not ranked as high and he hasn’t played that many tournaments but definitely one of the best players in the world last year,” Djokovic said. “He’s tough player to beat. He’s big guy, big serve, big forehand. Definitely not the draw that you like early in the tournament and that you wish for, but it is what it is.”

At this point last year, Djokovic looked unbeatable. He had dominated like no other in his generation, which includes Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, who are the winningest and tied for second when it comes to Grand Slam titles.

When he won the French Open, Djokovic completed a career Grand Slam and a year-round Grand Slam, also known as the Nole Slam.

“Winning four Grand Slams in a row is definitely a life, career achievement. Probably the biggest achievement I ever had,” Djokovic said at the start of the tournament. “Winning the French Open for the first time and crowning that couple of years of consistent, high results was magnificent. I really gave it all and French Open was one of the top priorities the last couple years.”

But after the French, Djokovic’s play became uneven. While he did have the wrist injury, he also said there were issues in his personal life that derailed him.

“It took a lot of emotions and energy from me,” Djokovic said. “Took some time to reflect on things, and then I had to re-motivate myself, and getting back on track. Right now, it’s better than what it was, especially the second half of last season, particularly after the US Open. I had those moments where I wasn’t myself on the court. Now I’m in a better place. Now I hope and believe I’m going in the right direction.”

 

 

 

13-year-old Ben Jorgensen gets Roger Federer to list his favorites of his 18 Grand Slam singles titles

 

3-12-17 Roger Federer

By Leighton Ginn

Sometimes it takes asking a questions others wouldn’t where you will get an interesting and unexpected answer.

On Sunday at the BNP Paribas Open, Ben Jorgensen, a 13-year-old from Rancho Palos Verdes, asked Roger Federer if his Australian Open title, a record 18th Grand Slam championship, was his most special.

When it comes to comparison questions, players usually try to dance around it and not really answer the question. That wasn’t the case Sunday.

Federer ranked his victory over Rafael Nadal in February as one of his top five. And he listed other titles with out prodding.

“I don’t know if it beats my first one, because the first one, it was a dream come true, so that maybe beats everything,” Federer said of his straight sets win over Mark Philippoussis in the 2003 Wimbledon final.

“French Open, I chased that one. And then when it did happen, it was unbelievable what it meant to me and the support I got in Paris,” Federer said of beating Robin Soderling in 2009 for his only French Open title.

“I don’t know. Winning at the US Open against (Andre) Agassi, one of my big and best performance potentially, winning in that atmosphere, under that pressure, being World No. 1 and defending against him, who maybe people thought he was going to retire if he won,” Federer said of his 2005 title, which was his sixth.

“This one now after the comeback and the injury, it was by far the biggest surprise. It was more surprising than, say, my first one in ’03. But, yeah, every one is special. This one is right up there,” Federer said of his Australian Open title.

Jorgensen said he and his mother Christine were spending the day in Indian Wells, and he was at the Tennis Garden for 14 hours watching matches and asking questions in the press conferences all day.

3-12-17 Ben and Christine Jorgensen

 

 

Rafael Nadal not quite his jovial self in return to the BNP Paribas Open

3-10-17 Rafa

By Leighton Ginn

The Rafael Nadal seen Friday night during his pre-BNP Paribas Open press conference was a little different from what we’ve seen from the Spanish superstar over the previous years.

Always charming and self-deprecating, the Nadal on Friday seemed a little surly. He was professional, and thoughtful in his answers as he always is. But there was a little salt to his responses that is common for other people, but can be jolting coming from Nadal.

It was Nadal’s first time back in the U.S. since his surprising run to the Australian Open final after years of various injuries. And he produced a classic battle against Roger Federer that people can’t stop talking about.

“We talked enough. I almost don’t forget about it,” Nadal said, which in the past he would deliver with a self-deprecating tone, but this night had an edgy tone.

It is the first time where media in America could ask Nadal about his Uncle Toni, the figure who has coached and directed his career. Uncle Toni announced he would no longer coaching Nadal following this year.

That announcement came with tremendous speculation.

“Well, I talked enough about that, too, no?” Nadal said tersely to start off his answer.

But Nadal did elaborate on his answers and gave his typically positive responses.

On the Australian Open run, Nadal added, “It was a great moment for the promotion of our sport. It was important because (there were) a lot of expectation about this match. For me, personally, to be part of it was great again. For sure I want to win, but overall I felt happy to be back on a big match like this.”

Nadal and Federer will go down as perhaps the greatest rivalry in this sport, and many feel the Australian Open will be a signature moment. Federer rallied from a 3-1 deficit in the fifth set for a 6-4, 3-6, 6-1, 3-6, 6-3 victory, increasing the Swiss star’s record haul to 18 Grand Slam singles titles.

“(It) was a moment that we will remember. I think is something that gonna be part of the history of our sport,” Nadal said. “I enjoyed the match, and I think the fans, too. So was a great moment.”

As for his Uncle Toni, there seemed to be a bit of a tightrope. With Toni guiding him, Nadal went on to win 14 Grand Slam titles, tied for second most with Pete Sampras. At Roland Garros, Nadal would become the King of Clay as he won nine titles in 10 years.

It was Uncle Toni that started Nadal and shaped him as a player.

“First thing, I played tennis because of him,” Nadal said. “If not, (I) would never play tennis. Will play football. That’s what I was doing when I was a kid, too.

“I practiced with him, only with him, until 12 years old. A big part of my success is because of his help. And like a person, it’s always when you spend a lot of hours with one person and it’s part of your family have an impact in your personality or in your education.

“It’s obvious that Toni had a big impact in all of the things that happened to me in terms of education and in terms of tennis, too.”

Nadal returns to the BNP Paribas Open, where he has gone 48-9 and won the title three times (2007, ’09, ’13). And the conditions at Indian Wells suits Nadal, as the hard courts are typically slower than others across the tour.

However, Nadal did hit why he might not have seem like himself, admitting he has been battling illness.

“I was a little bit sick two days, so I couldn’t practice for two days,” Nadal said at the end of the press conference. ” I start to practicing yesterday for the first time. Today, I practiced again and today I have doubles.

“But is obvious that when you get sick you lose a little bit of the power for a couple of days. So I hope to recover myself good and feel myself ready to compete at the highest level possible. I know I am playing (against)  Guillermo Garcia or Guido Pella (in Sunday’s second round), and that’s all what I can say now.”

 

 

 

 

Eating Crow after Australian Open

By Leighton Ginn

During the first week of the Australian Open when No. 2 Novak Djokovic lost, I had asked in my blog if this was the end of the golden age of men’s tennis.

The day after I wrote it, No. 1 Andy Murray also lost.

In the blog, I thought it was unlikely Roger Federer or Rafael Nadal could reach the finals.

Well, the wheels came off with that analysis.

With Novak Djokovic’s stunning loss, is the Golden Age over in men’s tennis?

Federer won the Australian Open for his 18th career Grand Slam singles crown, beating his long-time rival in a thrilling five setter that will be talked about for years.

In my defense, Federer had been gone for six months with a knee injury that was actually suffered at last year’s Australian Open. I never ruled out Federer from winning a major title because of his age, 35. But the age with the injury, and this being essentially his first tournament back, a sixth title in Oz was a lot to ask for.

Nadal has either been struggling with injuries or confidence. And the confidence is a result of all the injuries that have robbed him of his consistency. He kept plugging away, but there hadn’t been a sign encouraging enough to think he could get back to his dominant days.

And then everything changed.

Everyone has been talking about Federer’s age for a long time, but there’s no real evidence his game has slipped due to Father Time. Before the injury last year, a freak accident when he was giving his kids a bath, he was ranked No. 2 in the world.

In 2014-15, Federer reached three major finals, and if it wasn’t for Djokovic, he might have been over 20 major titles.

It’s time to talk about Novak Djokovic as one of the greatest ever in tennis

Now that he appears to be healthy, there’s no reason to believe he couldn’t win another major, especially at Wimbledon.

As for Nadal, he is back in the mix. Can he win another major? The French Open is the major he’s owned, but it’s such a long and grueling tournament, and Nadal has a lot of wear and tear on his body.

I don’t rule him out, but I need to see more to determine if he can win the French.

Now if Murray and Djokovic can bounce back, then the good times will continue to roll.

With Novak Djokovic’s stunning loss, is the Golden Age over in men’s tennis?

By Leighton Ginn

For over a decade, the Big Four of men’s tennis — Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray — have dominated the sport like no other.

Of the four majors over the last 11 years, the Fab Four have won 39 of the 44 major singles titles, with 29 of those finals pitting the sports creme de la creme.

While Federer and Nadal, two of the winningest players in tennis history, were hampered last year with injuries, Djokovic and Murray aptly filled in with historic years.

Djokovic became the first player to win four consecutive Grand Slam singles title when he won the French Open. The French title also completed his career Grand Slam to join Federer and Nadal in this generation to accomplish it.

However, in the second half of the year, Murray went on an impressive run that included his second Wimbledon title and second-consecutive gold medal at the Olympics to become the first Brit to earn the No. 1 ranking in the Open era.

On Thursday, Djokovic suffered a stunning second-round loss Denis Istomin, a wildcard who is ranked outside the top 100. It is the second time in the last three majors where Djokovic failed to reach the second week.

And this came at the Australian Open, his best major, where he’s claimed six titles in 10 years.

It raises this question: Is the Golden Age over?

WHAT MADE THE GOLDEN AGE GREAT

What made the Golden Age great is you had four great players who were always battling in the semifinals or finals of major tournaments.

For that to happen this year at the Australian Open seems like a longshot.

Murray came into the tournament as the No. 1 seed and top-ranked player, and nothing has changed for him.

But Federer is seeded 17th and would have to face Murray in the quarterfinals. Nadal is ninth, but he has no momentum coming into Melbourne. It’s not impossible for Nadal to reach the finals, but probably unlikely.

Moving forward, how much can we expect from Federer and Nadal who missed such a large portion of last year?

THE FALL OF DJOKOVIC

The real problem is Djokovic. No.1 and No. 2 isn’t a huge drop, but the quality of play from the Serbian superstar is.

When he won the French Open, it was his 12th major title and it was reasonable that he could make a serious run at Federer’s 17 Grand Slam titles.

Yet, to go from completing a Grand Slam to failing to make the second week of a major twice in the next three is troubling. Throw into the mix Djokovic losing in the first round of the Olympics and it becomes a worrisome trend.

If Djokovic was able to reach the quarterfinals, then it would have been too early to sound the alarm.

After his loss Thursday, Djokovic said he felt fine physically.

There have been questions about his desire. Only he can answer that, and he said that’s not the case.

Confidence? Same to assume it wasn’t what is was last year. Can he get it back? And can he do it in time to defend his French title?

IS ANYONE READY TO STEP IN?

Because Djokovic and Murray have been so good and holding the fort down with Federer and Nadal recovering from injuries, it looked like the Big Four could still squeeze out some more magic at the majors.

Now with Djokovic out, it opens the door for someone to step in to grab his own share of the limelight.

The top candidate is Stan Wawrinka, who has won three major titles in the last three years, including the Australian Open title. Some have suggested the Big Four should be the Big Five based on what Wawrinka has done. He certainly is on that level as far as ability.

I’m not sure if fans have embraced him on the level of the Big Four, in terms of excitement and anticipation. He hasn’t seriously challenged for major titles until the last four years. By that time, his legacy had been deep in the shadows of his fellow Swiss, Federer.

Wawrinka’s body of work as a contender is short, and at 31 years old, is probably closer to the end than the beginning.

But if he does continue to play at this high level and reach more major finals, then Wawrinka can enrich his already impressive legacy.

Currently, Milos Raonic is the No. 3 seed and has a career-best No. 3 ranking. With big weapons, he is an exciting power player. He’s building momentum in his career by reaching the Wimbledon final and the Australian Open semifinals in 2016.

Marin Cilic is the 2015 US Open champion and Juan Martin Del Potro is the 2009 US Open champion, but both have been hampered by injuries.

Kei Nishikori reached the 2015 US Open final and has maintained a top-10 level, but not enough to crack into the Big Four level.

Gael Monfils and Tomas Berdych have been around a while, but don’t appear are able to get to the next level, at least not yet.

Young players Dominic Thiem and David Goffin have made gigantic strides in the last year.

But the thing all these players are lacking is a body of work like the Big Four.

 

Andy Murray’s No. 1 ranking is great for tennis, but is the timing bad?

By Leighton Ginn

It’s been a fantastic year for Andy Murray and firmly established him as one of the Big Four in what could be the greatest generation in tennis.

Murray’s has been steady all year, reaching the finals of both the Australian and French Opens. But then it went into overdrive with his Wimbledon title, following by his repeat as an Olympic gold medalist.

Last week, Murray won the year-end ATP Tour World Finals to clinch the No. 1 year-end ranking.

However, the timing could be bad for the rest of the sport.

This has nothing to do with Murray, so don’t mistake this as a criticism of him.

But Novak Djokovic was having a historic year at the start. By winning the Australian and French Opens, Djokovic clinched the Nole Slam as he won four consecutive majors, a feat that hasn’t happened since Rod Laver in 1969.

What Djokovic had done elevated him past the standard bearers of this generation — Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.

After the French Open, Djokovic was in the conversation of the greatest ever.

Djokovic will finish the year No. 2, but his fall was significant. He only won one title since the French Open.

Earlier, his coach Boris Becker blamed the drop to the fact he wasn’t pushed by Federer nor Nadal. There is validity to that theory most times, but not in this case.

Djokovic wasn’t just chasing history, he had a chance to rewrite it.

During Wimbledon, Djokovic alluded to personal issues in his family life.

Whatever the case, Djokovic’s slip was disappointing because it could have meant so much for tennis.

Again, don’t mistake this as a shot at Murray, who is one of the top personalities in tennis. His story is great, and who isn’t charmed by the push to get him knighted in England.

Actually, why hasn’t he been knighted already for ending the curse of Fred Perry when he won Wimbledon in 2012, or his US Open title in 2011?

Murray is a great No. 1. It’s a great story.

But Djokovic was at such a high level that his success would provide more crossover attention.

Djokovic was challenging how we defined greatness in tennis. The run he was on was unprecedented.

Historically, when we look back on 2016, more likely, we will talk more about Djokovic than Murray.

And what could have been.