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Todd’s Tennis Takes – Djoker’s Streak Takes out Nadal’s

Djokovic defeats Nadal 7-5, 6-4 to take the Madrid Masters title.

In a beautiful tennis match Sunday, the 2 best players in the game battled it out in Madrid…2 guys that have 11 Slams in 15 finals appearances between them – the Great Rafael Nadal, and the best player this year, Novak Djokovic. There are tons of angles to talk about here, not the least of which is how high-quality the match was…there was a 35 ball rally, and many, many more over 15…crisp, sharp groundstrokes from both sides…epic defense…Djoker’s backhand – some of the best backhands I’ve ever seen…and on my favorite surface, two explosively quick athletes sliding supremely on the clay. Nadal’s between-the-legs lob was up there with Fed’s best from the US Open a couple years ago.

Djoker has now won 32 straight matches to open 2011, the number 3 streak of all time to open the year (J Mac 42, Borg 33).  His streak overpowered Rafa’s 37 straight clay wins since the ’09 French loss to Soderling. He’s an incredible raw physical athlete in terms of speed, explosion, and hand-eye coordination, with beautifully smooth, asthetically-pleasing groundstrokes and movement. He’s almost 24 years old, his peak speed and explosion years, with 5 solid years of experience, hanging out at #3 in the world four straight years now behind the two legends Rafa & Fed. We forget how good he is because of the tall shadows he plays under.

Djoker’s 2011 is currently rivaling Tiger’s 2000…though by April Tiger had already failed to win the Masters.  Of course he won every other slam that year, the British and US going away, and the PGA in a playoff over Bob May. But Tiger didn’t have a rival that was an all-timer like Nadal…and Djokovic has beaten Nadal in 3 Masters finals this year, now including his 1st win on clay vs. Rafa in 10 career tries. Of course, he still has more slam work to do to fully match/surpass Tiger’s 2000, but he’s certainly on schedule so far. Quite simply, Djokovic has fully arrived as one of the better tennis talents we’ve seen in the last 20 years, climbing the rankings of the greats.

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