Rafa and Roger are gone and The Joker is left standing. Sounds like a plug for a new Batman sequel, right?
But I’m talking about the Western and Southern Open in Cincinnati this week. Somehow both Rafa Nadal and Roger Federer got beaten by lesser opponents in the quarters in Cincy, while Novak Djokovic was pushed to three sets by the fast one, Gael Monfils. But The Joker is in the semis, while the two other best players in the world are getting some more prep work in on the practice courts for the U.S. Open.
It looked like Monfils, who has an amazing amount of raw talent and entertaining shot making ability but not the head to be a true champion, had Djokovic’s number last night, winning the first set with relative ease and then looking good halfway through the second. But the Serb is just too solid, too sure of his talents to lose. It’s as simple as that. He doesn’t lose. He has the best all-around game in tennis and his conditioning and fitness issues are things of the distant past. In short, he has no weakness. He may wander for awhile like he did in the first set against Monfils. But he won’t lose it for a whole match.
Djokovic should make short work of Tomas Berdych, who has underperformed this year until he knocked out Fed in the quarters. You’ve got to figure Andy Murray will beat the “American Hope,” Mardy Fish, so that leaves us with a tasty Djokovic-Murray final, which should be good viewing Sunday. Murray plays very well in non-Slam finals, so it isn’t out of the question for him to pull off an upset. But The Joker has to have a period of sloppy play like he did against Monfils for the Brit to have a real chance.
Looks like Djokovic is rolling heading into Queens, where he will go after his third Slam of the year starting in late August. Rafa looks beat up and Federer seems disinterested, although both these greats will certainly raise their games under the bright lights of Flushing Meadows. But can anybody beat Novak Djokovic?
For my money, the answer is a resounding no.