Britain’s golden boy, Andy Murray has become the first male tennis player to defend his Olympic Gold medal. Coming off a Wimbledon win at home, Andy seemed unstoppable, who now boasts of a record 12 match winning streak at the Olympics and an 18 match winning streak overall (Queens, Wimbledon, Olympics).
The last couple of months have been just amazing for Andy! Davis Cup title, reaching the finals of all Grand Slam finals this year so far while winning Wimbledon for the second time. And to top it all, a second consecutive Gold medal. Next up for Murray is the Cincinnati Masters where he is a two-time champion and even though Novak Djokovic is the favourite going into pretty much every tournament he plays, I still feel Murray is riding high on confidence, one of the most important things missing in his game until recently. The remainder of the US Open series might witness Murray closing on the gap between Djokovic and himself.
Juan Martin DelPotro is the man to watch out for right now. A former top 4 player, he has proven that he is still hungry and staying away from the tour hasn’t changed the champion in him. After taking out Wawrinka in Wimbledon, he defeated World No. 1 Novak Djokovic in the first round of the Olympic Games. Delpo went on to beat Rafa Nadal in the semi-finals en route his Silver medal, bettering his previous performance when he had won Bronze (defeating Djokovic in the Bronze medal match). Delpo comes as a pleasant surprise to everyone, as he seems like someone who could end Djokovic’s dominance. Delpo is known to lay it all in a match. He played the longest ever Olympic three-setter against Roger Federer in the semi-finals at the London Olympics. This year, even though Andy won the finals in four sets, Delpo fought till the very end. Ranked 141st in the world, Delpo is already heading back to where he belongs.
Delpo (Champion in 2009) has received a wild card into this year’s US Open. Having given a wild card, Delpo will be unseeded and will prove to be a nightmare to one of the top players in the initial rounds. He is expected to make a deep run in the US Open and could receive wild cards to Basel and Paris Masters too.
Rafa Nadal, whose Olympic participation seemed doubtful at one point in time, had a wonderful Olympic himself. Nadal along with Marc Lopez won Gold in Men’s doubles. His second Gold medal in as many Olympic trips. He could have won another medal in singles, but he lost his semi-final match to Delpo and then his Bronze medal match to Kei Nishikori. Nishikori’s first Olympic medal coming off a win against Nadal just adds to his joy of winning a medal. He is one of the players who does not believe in shadow practice. He is what Djokovic was to Fedal. Back in the day when Federer and Nadal dominated the game, Djokovic remained a consistent 3rd, just waiting to pounce and that is exactly what Nishikori would do. Going into the next Grand Slam, the one he has been most successful at (Runner-up’2014), Kei Nishikori is in the right frame of mind and his game is where he needs it to be.
This is one of my favourite moments in the season. The top players eyeing qualification for the Year-End Finals start to peak. The players who haven’t achieved much in the season so far, step on the gas in desperation to atleast end the season better than they started. According to me the biggest gainers are going to be Rafael Nadal and Juan Martin DelPotro.
With defending champion Roger Federer out of contention, the Southern and Western Open is up for grabs. This is the only ATP Masters trophy missing from Djokovic’s cabinet. He has reached the finals five times losing to Federer thrice and Murray twice.
This leg of the season used to be Federer’s favourite. He has won the US Open 5 times (04-08), Cincinnati Masters 7 times, Basel 7 times and the Year-End Masters 6 times. Not having him around for the first time since I can remember would make things a little different. However, I fear that with Delpo and Nadal back in action, players like Raonic and Nishikori raising their games and with Djokovic and Murray ofcourse, we might just not have the time to miss Federer.