October 18, 2015

Total Domination

We've seen a lot of amazing things on Tour this tennis season -- some late bloomers finally breaking through, a couple long-standing champions show their human side, a one-time one hit wonder prove his worth and maybe a comeback or two. But when you get down to it, there's only one man on the ATP who's come through when it counts the most -- and this week he reminded us why.

That's not to say there weren't other story lines worth following in Shanghai this year -- defending champion Roger Federer was stunned in his first match since the U.S. Open final, losing to qualifier Albert Ramos in the opening round. And Rafael Nadal, fresh off a runner-up showing in Beijing, scored arguably his best two wins of the year, taking out Milos Raonic and Stan Wawrinka back-to-back on his way to the semis. And even Jo-Wilfried Tsonga made up for a largely quiet year, rebounding after losing a bagel set to take out Rafa and make his first Masters final of the year.

But in spite of the hugely talented field, it was Novak Djokovic who came out on top -- the two time champion here has been unquestionably the strongest force on Tour in 2015, winning three of the four Majors, four more Masters crowns, and reaching at least the final of all but one tournament he's played. This week in Shanghai he picked up right where he left off last week, tested only once when Bernard Tomic pushed him to a tiebreak in the first set. But he wasn't fazed at all, trouncing newly-minted world #2 Andy Murray in the semis and taking out Tsonga with little more effort in Sunday's championship.

Sunday's win earned Nole his ninth trophy of the year, and puts him just one shy of that breakthrough 2011 season that really put him on the map. He's also spitting distance from Nadal's record twenty-seven Masters titles, and the way he's been playing all year it doesn't seem like we'll have to wait much longer before he hits either goal.

And when he does, he might just set himself apart in an era dominated by some of the greatest athletes the sport has ever seen -- and notch himself a place in history in his own right.

No comments: