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Has Djokovic made it a big One and killed the Big Four?

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Has Djokovic made it a big One and killed the Big Four? Empty Has Djokovic made it a big One and killed the Big Four?

Post by socal1976 Tue 02 Feb 2016, 7:47 pm

I picture Djokovic as the Highlander fighting incredible foes all who share the same chivalric code of there can only be "one". Well right now we are at the scene where he chopped off the heads figuratively of course of his toughest rivals and is being shot with bolts of lightening while he gives out a guttural roar and screams, "there can only be one". So far in the first month of the season he has 3 lopsided wins against his biggest rivals. And in each of those matches he has started the match with 6-1 set. He has won 8 of 9 sets played against the three other giants of the tour.

Unlike Highlander movies there is however the ability of your opponents to comeback and keep playing you day after day till they turn the tables. But following 2015 and starting 2016 it looks like Novak instead of being chased down by the pack is Secretariat who was ahead to begin with but then when he rounded the final turn and saw the finish line in front of him began kicking and taking 10 length lead and smashing his Kentucky Derby opponents by 20 or 25 lengths smashing all course records. Later when the famous horse died and they autopsied him they found that his lungs and heart were unusually large and well developed for even a thoroughbred champion, I think if that autopsy is ever done on Djokovic we would have the same result.

The fact is that he has won 5 of the last 7 slams, and 4 of the last 5. He now goes into every match regardless of the surface or the opponent as the favorite. Something that even in Roger's heyday one could never say. He is for the second time attempting to become the first player since Laver to hold all 4 slams at one and this year he is almost a shoe in to tie Roger's mark of 5 year end number 1s. People will say that Fed was a respectable 5-3 against Novak but he won the three most inconsequential of the matches he played against Novak as one was a 500 point final and the other a round robin match quickly avenged in a final. It has been quite sometime since Fed has been winning 5 setters of import against Novak.

What must his opponents do to catch him? What style will give him trouble? What players coming up will take him down? And how long will it take? Can the other Big 4 guys one or any of them restore parity or take the advantage against Novak? And how long can he keep this up and where will it all end in the record books?

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Post by paulcz Tue 02 Feb 2016, 8:39 pm

The best chance to succeed against Novak has Karlovic because he is only one who does not play rallies. But he needs to rely on TBs.

There is one thing that strikes me as I see him play, as he plays clearly tacticall chess on the court, so that his one-off game can be quite different and much more aggressive.

Nice reading from Stepanek as follows:
Quite interesting article from Stepanek about his good relationship with Novak.
Stepanek says, it is a big honor to be close to Novak as the best player and not only for his player’s quality, but also as human being.
Novak is a normal man even though it looks he is invincible on the court. But how he practices and thinks about tennis, it is no wonder where he is.
Step was a sparring partner before Novak’s matches with Federer and Murray and tried to play their similar game, so he has his share on Novak’s win as well. Novak’s dominance is unprecedented and to find a weakness in his game nearly impossible. Bloody unbelievably good on the court, I had a feeling that not that Novak is chasing a ball but the ball looks for Novak. His geniality is in the game anticipation. All members of his team breathe for Novak and Novak gives his maximum on the court.
Boris is enormously competitive and in all games, e.g. at snooker. When he is losing he tries to throw his opponents away by his twaddle.
Stepanek was also with Novak at cinema and sit on his bench in the finale, but needed to leave before the third set to the airport.



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Post by Guest Tue 02 Feb 2016, 8:40 pm

I did quip this title last year.

It's very much poignant for him.

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Post by socal1976 Tue 02 Feb 2016, 8:54 pm

Well Paul great comments from a damn good old pro in stepanek. Yeah I get the feeling to beat Novak you have to just be a huge power player playing at your highest level. You have from last year the loss to Karlovic and also you have the loss to Stan where Wawrinka just brought raw power from all areas of the court as early as possible in the rally. That is the game plan and type of player that can beat Novak. But the genius of Djokovic is that to do that to him and hit through in a five set matches is an incredibly high hurdle for even the absolute biggest and best hitters. The best way to beat Novak is also the riskiest and lowest margin for error style you can play and you got to execute it against the best retriever and returner in the game for best of five. Novak is like the great poker player who continually traps his opponents in situations where they have to make a move and risk long odds. Sure every now and then the opponents high risk style will result in him drawing out and hitting that straight or flush in a big pot, ala Wawrinka in the FO. But most of the time the opponent crashes and burns pushing the all his chips into the middle while Novak is the odds on most likely to win.

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Post by HM Murdock Wed 03 Feb 2016, 9:35 am

I think the Big 4 stopped existing in a meaningful sense some time ago.

2012 was the last time they made up the year end top 4.

Three of them don't hold a slam title and haven't done for nearly two years. One of them doesn't even hold a Masters title.

Novak has undoubtedly improved over the last 18 months or so but the gap isn't solely down to his improvement. The other three are all playing at less than a career-best standard.

Tennis' next chapter needs to be some new challengers trying to take Novak down. I don't feel any great need for other members of the Big 4 to put the old band together again.

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Post by Haddie-nuff Wed 03 Feb 2016, 9:50 am

Novak has undoubtedly improved over the last 18 months or so but the gap isn't solely down to his improvement. The other three are all playing at less than a career-best standard.

Shocked oops that will burst a few bubbles !!!! Wink

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Post by kingraf Wed 03 Feb 2016, 10:01 am

I don't think Djokovic himself has done anything. Nadal's decline had nothing to do with him and Federer hasnt actually won a slam for four years now, so that's father time. Djokovic has outlasted them however and to be fair to him seems to have either improved or found a way of playing at his 2011 baseline every single day of his life
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Post by Born Slippy Wed 03 Feb 2016, 10:16 am

It depends how you view the concept. Djokovic is obviously near unbeatable, Murray has lost one match at Masters level or higher to a non big 4 player since the start of last year (and that was a totally freakish performance by Anderson) and Fed has lost to the eventual winner in the last four slams. Against the rest of the field (bar possibly Stan) those three are still utterly dominant. Rafa is obviously the exception currently but he's still at number 5 despite being way off his best.

The big 4 has always been about domination of the rest. There have always then been levels within it, which have changed over time. Novak is justifiably on his own pedestal currently but that doesn't stop the big 4 construct being relevant.


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Post by Born Slippy Wed 03 Feb 2016, 10:21 am

As for how to best him, Murray's tactics were more or less spot on in the final. Go hard into the corners and look to come in whenever possible, whilst also being prepared to go long in the rallies. However, it relies on Andy playing at least 8/10 - not like he did on Sunday. Frustrating though that match was as a Murray fan, i think there's potential for some awesome Djokray matches later this year.

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Post by Haddie-nuff Wed 03 Feb 2016, 10:37 am

I do have to agree with HMM.. unquestionably Novak is dominating the rest of the field and his confidence has grown with every win.
This of course has for the most part been of his own making but added to this he is safe in the knowledge that with the decline of two of his major rivals.. there is little that can hurt him.

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Post by banbrotam Wed 03 Feb 2016, 11:12 am

Born Slippy wrote:As for how to best him, Murray's tactics were more or less spot on in the final. Go hard into the corners and look to come in whenever possible, whilst also being prepared to go long in the rallies. However, it relies on Andy playing at least 8/10 - not like he did on Sunday. Frustrating though that match was as a Murray fan, i think there's potential for some awesome Djokray matches later this year.


I agree. From the moment Murray had his father in law taken ill, his Aus Open was doomed - simply because he's rubbish at compartmentalising things

What I mean by that, when playing Novak everything has to fall in place, no mental background worries, suitable court etc

Strangely, I think he's more of a chance on a very slow court than a medium one, but fast hot conditions (i.e. Wimbledon 2013) are what he (and Roger) must pray for to beat Novak

It's fair to say a slightly better Andy and an average Novak could give us some good matches - but the recent run has got to the Federer domination of Roddick stage and we know how they always used to end up

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Post by YvonneT Wed 03 Feb 2016, 2:04 pm

Agree with BS to an extent.

The big 4 was about a period when the most the rest of the field could hope for is to sneak the occasional semi final slot of a Masters or a slam, because the top 4 seeds guarded the four quarters of the draw so reliably. That's why the "big 4" worked even though Murray was always junior partner in acheivement. Since the start of 2013, Nadal, Murray and Federer have all had their poor seasons, meaning they don't even have their own quarters any more, thus the concept breaks down a bit. However, in 2015, only 16 of 18 Masters finals slots and 7 of 8 slam final slots were filled by the big 4. They are clinging on!  

Still, by the next slam, it will be pretty much 4 years since Fed won a slam, 3 years since Murray won a slam and 2 years for Nadal. Like many here, I expect Djokovic to remain comfortably number 1 for a while yet so, yeah, big one works. What I think is missing most from the big 4 heyday (2010-2013) is the unpredictability of match-ups between them. They are still meeting in the biggest matches of the season, but the results seem pretty much never in doubt.

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Post by dummy_half Wed 03 Feb 2016, 2:09 pm

To be honest, I've always been something of a skeptic about the 'Big 4' anyway. OK, the top 4 of Federer, Nadal, Djokovic and Murray have dominated Masters and Slam titles for the last decade and also the top of the rankings from about 2008 to 2012/13, but for me Murray only merits placing in that top echelon for the year from Wimbledon 2012 to Wimbledon 2013 - for the rest of the time he's been better than everyone else but a level below the top players.

For much of the time I would argue that there has been a top 2 and next 2, initially with Fed and Rafa ahead of Novak and Andy, but then Novak stepping up and at various times Federer and Nadal dropping a level. And now we have a clear case of Novak first, Fed and Andy about the same a level down, with Stan being the best of the rest and Rafa off form for the last year.

Agree with HMM - Novak is playing really well and with great confidence, and we all know what that can mean (e.g. start of 2011). However, there is no doubt that Andy can play better (needs to rediscover the in to out forehand that he developed under Lendl and to keep working on the second serve) and Federer is inevitably not as good at 34 as he was at 24, even if the decline has been slowed by his developing various elements of his game.

I still don't think Novak is a good bet for the calendar year slam, just because it is so bleeding difficult to achieve He could quite easily have lost the AO if the bad performance he had against Simon had been against someone a bit more ruthless, and it's always possible that a big hitter will simply have a hot day, painting the lines. Heck, even if you give Novak an 80% likelihood of winning each slam this year (which I think is unrealistically high), that only gives a 40% chance of winning all 4.

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Post by Born Slippy Wed 03 Feb 2016, 2:59 pm

Yvonne - I'm assuming 16/18 (18/20 counting WTF) and 7/8 isn't far off their best combined year?

Below Djokovic, I actually think the other big 3 are very hard matches to call presently.

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Post by socal1976 Wed 03 Feb 2016, 4:40 pm

kingraf wrote:I don't think Djokovic himself has done anything. Nadal's decline had nothing to do with him and Federer hasnt actually won a slam for four years now, so that's father time. Djokovic has outlasted them however and to be fair to him seems to have either improved or found a way of playing at his 2011 baseline every single day of his life

Based on the numbers he is volleying more and getting more aces in 2015 than in 2011, so he has worked and added a bit to his game. I don't think he is hitting the up the line Backhand quite as well as in 2011, but the serve is more precise and based on statistics is giving him more free points.

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Post by summerblues Thu 04 Feb 2016, 2:42 am

To answer the OP, to me the term "Big 4" relates to their career achievements, rather than to the current level.

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Post by lydian Thu 04 Feb 2016, 3:50 pm

The Big 3 (+ 1) then to be honest.
Its hard to put Murray's achievements on a par with the others above him.
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Post by Henman Bill Thu 04 Feb 2016, 6:02 pm

It's a big four. It doesn't make sense to be constantly changing the terminology. History will regard it as the big four regardless of what we decide is the latest faddy way to look at it today.

What can the others do? Realistically the two most likely scenarios are that Djokovic's level drops, or he continues to dominate. The third scenario, that Nadal, Federer or Murray reaches new heights and becomes no 1, is also possible but less likely.

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Post by socal1976 Thu 04 Feb 2016, 7:11 pm

Henman Bill wrote:It's a big four. It doesn't make sense to be constantly changing the terminology. History will regard it as the big four regardless of what we decide is the latest faddy way to look at it today.

What can the others do? Realistically the two most likely scenarios are that Djokovic's level drops, or he continues to dominate. The third scenario, that Nadal, Federer or Murray reaches new heights and becomes no 1, is also possible but less likely.

Yeah I think Novak will have ups and downs in level to begin with however his fluctuations in results don't seem to be that high. I remember in 2010 and 09 with the changes he made with his serve he finished number 3 with basically a WTA serve. So I don't think Novak's level coming down a large amount in the near term is as likely. I don't really think he played his best tennis in the AO to be honest and still won it, outside really of the first two sets against Fed.

Its not about changing the Big Four terminology but more like a dating process, all good things come to an end and in terms having 4 guys who were all comparatively at the highest level together, I think that is dead. In terms of excitement and terms of the draw for the game they are still the big 4.

@Yvonne makes a good point in that the top four matchups are more predictable in the result while the top 4 guys are still getting into the semis and finals it is just that the other guys are beating Novak is happening a lot less often.

I am more interested in everyone's views of how long can he keep this run up, what is your best estimate of how long he can stay number 1. Already he is among the handful of top guys in terms of weeks at number 1, yet as others have said sports and tennis particular is fickle.

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Post by Henman Bill Thu 04 Feb 2016, 8:46 pm

Smart money is he stays year end no 1, for at least one more year, that is clearly the most likely (albeit not certain).

4-5 years at no 1? Probably not, too many things can happen in life and sport, youngsters coming up, decline, injury, personal problem who knows. Plus just getting too old to be no 1.

2-3 years has to be the best guess. Say year end no 1 in 2016, 2017, and then loses it sometime in 2018.

What do you think Socal?

One interesting thing is that when Djokovic smashes people 6-0, 6-1, 6-2 it's often in the latter stages of the tournament against the better players. He cruises through the early rounds. We shouldn't judge too much by the results there.

I have made a prediction that Murray could be number one in the world for at least one week before the end of his career, and while he hasn't done a lot to back me up so far, I still haven't given up hope.

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Post by socal1976 Fri 05 Feb 2016, 12:19 am

Henman Bill wrote:Smart money is he stays year end no 1, for at least one more year, that is clearly the most likely (albeit not certain).

4-5 years at no 1? Probably not, too many things can happen in life and sport, youngsters coming up, decline, injury, personal problem who knows. Plus just getting too old to be no 1.

2-3 years has to be the best guess. Say year end no 1 in 2016, 2017, and then loses it sometime in 2018.

What do you think Socal?

One interesting thing is that when Djokovic smashes people 6-0, 6-1, 6-2 it's often in the latter stages of the tournament against the better players. He cruises through the early rounds. We shouldn't judge too much by the results there.

I have made a prediction that Murray could be number one in the world for at least one week before the end of his career, and while he hasn't done a lot to back me up so far, I still haven't given up hope.

Interesting you mention Murray, because I still believe that he is the best bet for the next player to don the world number 1 title. He has slowly but surely pieced together his form from his back injury and has shown glimpses in Canada last year and in the two sets in the final that he is not as far away as the H2H would indicate. I also think that since he has become better on clay and that he can now challenge titles all year round makes it likely that if he plays well he can break in.

Right now I think it is very hard to see Novak not being year end #1 this season, and barring injury I think next year as well. None of the other players can out point him week to week. Remember that in 2011, Novak had to win everything basically for six months before he could overtake Nadal as the number 1. Novak's lead in points is now bigger than Nadal's was at the end of 2010. Therefore even if Murray or Nadal or anyone else flips the switch and just goes beast mode it will probably take them several months of beating Novak in finals before they can overtake him. I think he will tie Sampras' all time record of 6 year enders and probably will break that record. So I think he needs 3 more years of finishing number 1. It is hard to predict that long into the future but I can see him doing it, I would say he probably has 30-50 percent chance of breaking that record. He may have an even better chance of breaking Fed's weeks at number one because he already has in 180s I think, and like we said above it would take someone 6 or 7 months of beast mode starting tomorrow to overtake him even if they won every damn title. So he is going to be in the low 200s for sure in terms of weeks at number 1, that is basically pre-ordained even if he does have a loss of form or a rival goes Novak 2011 on him.

The big thing in his favor is that none of the guys beneath him seem to have a run like that in them. Fed had it in him but he can't play enough. Nadal has it in him but again health and his long term form is in question. Andy, could do it but he never has before and needs to go on a lengthy win streak in finals on Novak to do it that will require either a marked improvement in his game or a marked fall off for Novak. The other guys just don't have the talent or pedigree.

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Post by summerblues Fri 05 Feb 2016, 1:50 am

lydian wrote:The Big 3 (+ 1) then to be honest.
Its hard to put Murray's achievements on a par with the others above him.
But it does not have to be "either-or".  Murray is significantly behind the other three, but also quite clearly above the rest.  To me, both "Big 4" and "Big 3" are valid.  Either of these terms leaves little doubt as to who is or is not included.  In fact, with their current level of achievement, they are all somewhat stratified.  Even if one said "Big 2", or "the Great One", it would still be reasonably obvious who is meant.  All those terms can work simultaneously, no need to argue which one is "correct".

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Post by Belovedluckyboy Fri 05 Feb 2016, 7:41 am

Novak getting to all the finals happened only in 2015 till now; its not like he was doing that all along save 2011. In 2014 he lost in QF at AO and SF in USO and lost in early rounds at Canada and Cincy. It should be noted that in 2015 there was no Rafa in the AO final(unlike 2014 when Rafa was in the final) and he was no longer his usual self at the FO; that in a way made it easier for Novak. A 'normal' Rafa is/was a tough opponent for Novak at the slams (from AO2012 to FO2014, Rafa won 4 of their 5 encounters).

I doubt he will reach all finals again in 2016; already he had some tough matches and looked shaky at the AO. My guess is there may not be a dominant player in 2016 but a few doing well or fairly well and the YE no.1 may have to edge the others to get there, not unlike 2012. It may still be Novak but may not be dominant like 2015.

Murray, Stan or even Rafa(if he gets his head right) may win some beating Novak; there's also Raonic. Fed may still be there on the quicker courts.

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Post by Henman Bill Fri 05 Feb 2016, 4:03 pm

summerblues wrote:
Even if one said..... "the Great One", it would still be reasonably obvious who is meant.  

On the contrary, about 90% of the chatter on the forum is to argue this point!

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Post by Jahu Fri 05 Feb 2016, 4:45 pm

Djoko has killed Tennis, no one else.
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