November 22, 2015

Nothing Motivates Like Success

It's kind of a weird saying, right? You'd assume the sharp pain from a recent loss would be all a competitive athlete needs to improve his game and come out swinging even harder the next time he hits the court. But perhaps it's only the very best out there who can so easily shake off disappointment, proving any setback is just a minor bump on the way to even bigger achievements down the road. And at this week's ATP Championships in London, that's exactly what Novak Djokovic did.

The world #1's hiccup came during his round robin matches where, in his first defeat since August, he dropped in straight sets to Roger Federer. But a solid win over Tomas Berdych in his final group match secured him spot in the semifinals, where he took on an impressively resurgent Rafael Nadal, who'd gone 3-0 during his early rounds. But the former top-ranked Spaniard, still looking for his first ever World Tour Final championship, ran out of steam on Saturday, never ever earning a break point and ultimately falling in less than eighty minutes.

Meanwhile Federer was able to keep his momentum going a little longer -- after winning all three of his round robin matches, losing just one set to an on-the-mend Kei Nishikori, he was riding high atop his group standings. Meanwhile compatriot Stan Wawrinka's fate went down to the wire -- splitting his first two matches in London his battle Friday against hometown favorite Andy Murray was do-or-die. But the reigning French Open champion, having won the pair's last two meetings kept his streak going, closing the gap further with his rival. The effort may have taken a bit out of him, though -- despite what seemed on paper like a closer score, Roger needed even less time to score the win Saturday and earned himself a chance at a seventh ATP Championship

But Djokovic wasn't about to crumble again against the only man who's beaten him in months -- in Sunday's final, he got a break early and barely looked back, withstanding solid serving from his opponent and pouncing on his returns. After two quick sets, he'd become the only man ever to win four straight World Tour Finals and cemented his place at the very top of the ATP this season.

Nole's win this week is not unlike what Serena Williams did at the WTA Finals last year -- after a dominating end to her year, she rebounded from a stunning loss to Simona Halep in the round robins, only to crush her adversary in the championship match. Djokovic has a little ways to go before he can earn a full comparison to one of the most decorated players in the field, but after his amazing performance so far this year, it certainly seems he's well on his way.

And with the momentum he's got in his pocket already, there's no telling when he'll stop.

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