Monday, 11 March 2013

Djokovic and Azarenka set stunning pace

As we begin to start the serious part of Indian Wells, the undisputed world's best male tennis player and maybe the current best female player (if not, certainly part of a duo way above the rest) have yet to experience defeat in 2013.

Nothing new for the pair - Vika began her 2012 with victories in Sydney, the Australian Open, Doha and Indian Wells, while Novak in 2011 blitzed everyone, especially Nadal, on his way to Roland Garros without a mark on his record.  These two players have the art of consistency ingrained in their game, and have proved that they should be favourites once again to take home the Masters and Premier titles on offer at Indian Wells.

Just a few statistics on Djokovic in his relatively few outings this year:

This is only his third tournament of the year.  He won 12 matches to capture his fourth Australian Open and his third Dubai event, 5 of those against top ten players.  The player ranked number two in the world is the great Roger Federer.  He had played 3 tournaments in 2013 prior to Indian Wells, and played  13 matches, only three of those against top ten players, with only the one success (Tsonga in the Aus Open quarters).  That illustrates the gap that Djokovic has managed to eke out between himself and the rest.  Of course Nadal is seeded to play Federer in the quarter finals and either of those players is still equipped to bring Novak's run to an end, if Andy  Murray hasn't already done it in the semis.  However, these days any win by the others in the "fab four" against Novak is deemed an upset.

Vika Azarenka has had her problems against Serena Williams, but not against any other female player during her glittering run since the beginning of 2012.  Safe to say that the WTA rankings merely caught up with reality when Serena displaced Azarenka at the top of the list.  The WTA rankings never pretend to proclaim that the woman with the most points is the "best" player in the world.  How can that be the case when undoubtedly by all valued measures, Serena Williams when fit and playing has been that virtually throughout her stellar career?

The irony of Vika surrendering her lead in the ranking points table, is that she did it in the same week that she overcame the Williams curse and said to the world "I can now beat anyone, all things being equal."

Serena in my opinion still deserves her title of world's finest player, but as this year rolls on, the Azarenka claim may become more deserving, especially if she keeps winning relentlessly in the style of Djokovic.  Each battle between Serena and Vika is now as eagerly awaited as any "head to head" in female tennis since Henin and Williams, Clijsters and Williams or Williams and Williams.  

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