May 22, 2018
Isn’t it great to see Novak Djokovic grab a few headlines again for his scintillating tennis?
Rafael Nadal beat Alexander Zverev in Rome to take an eighth title there. No one was surprised.
But the real story seemed to centre around Novak Djokovic and how well he played.
It’s time to declare that Novak, Tuesday’s birthday boy at 31, is well and truly back!
Having lost back-to-back openers in Indian Wells and Miami, and not reached the quarter-finals in any of the six tournaments he had played in 2018, we were all beginning to wonder whether we would ever see Djokovic at his best again.
But in Rome he sailed all the way through to the semi-finals and gave Nadal a real run for his money in a superb contest.
The first set went to a tie-break, something of an achievement for any player against the King of Clay.
And although Djokovic lost the breaker 4-7 and the second set 3-6, there was reason for genuine hope – and he knew it.
Novak said later: ‘I don’t think there was too much of a difference between me and Rafa, which is great for me, great news for me.
‘Rafa is, of course, the best player ever to play tennis on clay. And he’s in great, great form.
‘All in all it was a really good quality match. I can only take positives from this week.
‘Looking back two or three months, this is the best I’ve felt on the court, by far.’
What better birthday present could Novak enjoy than that? No need to worry about hitting 31 either.
The last six Grand Slam titles have gone to thirty-somethings – mostly to Roger Federer and Nadal, but also to Stan Wawrinka at the start of the run.
Could we now see Novak Djokovic perform well at Roland Garros too, just in time to peak for Wimbledon 2018?
Don’t be too surprised if that happens. And won’t we feel lucky if Federer, Nadal, Djokovic and Murray are all competing ferociously for that treasured Wimbledon 2018 title after all?
Now that will be something to savour! Happy birthday Novak! We can’t wait for Wimbledon 2018 now!