Catch me if you can
When a player is dominating to the degree that Novak Djokovic has been since the start of 2015, questions about how long the dominance will last emerge. February featured Nick Kyrgios and Dominic Thiem making strides on the tour as well as Stan Wawrinka reaffirming his quality. We know on the right day that Stan Wawrinka can trouble Novak Djokovic, but he has not been able to challenge Novak from January to November. Will 2016 be different? Thiem and Kyrgios are young enough to possibly mount a challenge in the coming years, but 2016 seems a little early. Andy Murray seems firmly entrenched at #2, and fatherhood may give his career a boost. Milos Raonic seems to have made a step forward, but has had injury issues (as has Kyrgios). Who will step up?
Is Thiem capable of a BIG leap in 2016?
Novak as the Sole Target
The Era of the Big 4 seems to be closing. The Big 3 began in my mind in 2007 when Novak played so well at Roland Garros, Wimbledon, and the US Open. Andy Murray’s move forward at the 2008 US Open expanded the top tier in tennis to 4. That oligopoly has maintained itself with a few dips in the road until January 2015. Novak has won 4 of the past 5 majors while Roger has not won a major since 2012, Murray since 2013, and Rafa since 2014. I am not saying that Novak plays in a weak era. Novak has simply separated himself from his greatest rivals. The last time a player had created this much separation from the field was Roger Federer entering 2005. The unpredictable but incredibly talented Marat Safin struck a blow for parity but Rafael Nadal’s rise on clay in 2005 ended Federer’s total monopoly. When one guy is the big obstacle for winning the biggest matches in tennis it can help a player focus his efforts in terms of practice, strategy, and tactics. Trying to game plan for beating 3 or 4 different obstacles may be a harder task that allowed each of the big 4 to benefit. I have no idea if this is true, but as dominant as Novak Djokovic is at the moment it is a question I am considering.