By Carter Gibson Hunt, Sports Editor
For the past five years Novak Djokovic has terrorized every surface and every major in tennis. He has won 11 of a possible 23 major tournaments. Nobody has been even close to the level of play of Djokovic.
During the past five seasons Rafael Nadal is the next closest to Djokovic with a seemingly meager 5 majors, only one of which came on a surface other than clay. Put simply, a tennis court is Novak’s world, everyone else is just living in it.
Yet as early play of the US Open is underway, there is a feeling that he is not quite the dominant player that he has been the past several years.
As Nadal and Rodger Federer have become old and injured, the top of the tennis world has become a monotonous Serbian surname. Murray may have appeared in several finals but it often appeared to be only a formality, Djokovic would win, it was only a matter of sets.
2015 seemed to be the coronation of Djokovic’s power. He won three of four majors, only losing in the finals of the French, the closest thing he had to a kryptonite. But then this past June even the Paris clay could not hold him back, Novak finally won his elusive career grand slam to start of 2016 two for two.
Beating Andy Murray in the Australian and French Open (Roland Garros) in three and four sets respectively Djokoviv seemed to have established that he was in another league than his Scottish rival. Yet since Roland Garros he seems to have taken a dive.
Losing early at Wimbledon to Sam Querry was a shocker, but many assumed it would be an anomaly. Certainly something that was unlikely to happen again. Then the unbelievable happened. Djokovic lost IN THE FIRST ROUND to Juan Martin Del Potro. Djokovic might actually be a robot playing tennis, he does not lose in the first round, it is unheard of, but he is quickly falling off of his untouchable throne.
In Djokovic’s absence Andy Murray has stepped up, winning both Wimbledon and gold in Rio. For most of his career Andy Murray has been an afterthought, sure he was highly seeded but was never considered much of a competitor to the greats Nadal, Federer, and Djokovic.
But New York is about to be turned into a battlefield. Novak Djokovic’s reign of terror is at a breaking point, Murray could end it or Djokovic could remind everyone just how great he is. If Novak is the villain then Murray is the closes thing tennis has to a hero. Maybe not be the hero tennis wants, but he is the hero tennis deserves.