Still can’t split them and the number 20 isn’t the only thing in common.
The three great ones, Roger, Rafa and Novak all end 2021 as equals with broken parts.
Roger his knee. Rafa his foot. Novak his heart, battered by a Russian on the unforgiving Queens concrete.
All of it means 2022 shapes as the most watchable year of grand slam tennis because of one big question; what do they have left?
It’s the great unknown for Roger and Rafa after both watched this US Open at home unable to walk freely.
Time, apparently, stands still for no-one yet it does seem a little impatient in waiting for Roger and Rafa.
For Novak, one afternoon of darkness doesn’t mean he’ll never see the sun again.
He was sluggish this morning. Legs couldn’t go like they usually do. All that effort put in to winning 27 grand slam matches in a season – the 27th a brutal five-setter – finally left him vulnerable.
And still it took Daniil Medvedev, the second best player on the planet who had timed his preparation for this moment to perfection, to produce his best.
And even then, when a conclusion looked certain before all the A-listers and loudmouths inside Arthur Ashe Stadium, there was still the faint scent of a remarkable comeback.
Djokovic has conditioned us that way. Leading in, he’d only been beaten four times in straight sets within the last decade at majors. Rafael Nadal, Dominic Thiem, Andy Murray and, most quizzically, Hyeon Chung.
Most of us mortals are ok with four average days in a week. Four in a DECADE!
It was only when Medvedev flopped on the floor, the dead fish celebration for those not across Playstation, was Djokovic done for today.
There will be plenty more tomorrows.
It is incomprehensible to suggest he is anywhere near tailing off, despite being bullied by a man who hit, moved and thought quicker.
“I’ll try to take, draw some lessons from them, learn, be stronger, and keep going, keep going,” Djokovic told media afterwards.
“I still love this sport and I still feel good on the court. As long as there is motivation and that flair, I’ll keep riding.”
And aren’t humans strange. A masterful tennis player wins 27 grand slam matches in a row, some breathtakingly so, and universal adoration is hard to come by.
Djokovic cares about being loved. Look at the reaction from earlier this tournament when he thought the crowd was booing him. All New Yorkers had done was root, as they say, for the underdog, Holger Rune, by saying his name, as they do; “RUUUUUUUUUNNNE!”
Djokovic forlornly assumed BOOOOOO, but only on the basis of many times before when his brilliance and unnerving desire polarised opinion.
So only when he fails, chasing 28th and failing does unconditional love cascade from every seat in the biggest stadium in tennis.
One can imagine, though, when next season starts, it will all reset again.
Novak distraught as pressure takes toll
Novak distraught as pressure takes toll | 02:01
No athlete on the planet is more motivated than Djokovic. Always wanting to prove something. All the great ones feed an ego and Djokovic is insatiable in this regard.
Ten Australian Open titles beckon, where the main challengers loom as Medvedev, Zverev and without flippantly delving into his medical beliefs, Australia’s vaccination policy on tourists.
“I still want to keep going, try to win more slams, play for my country,” Djokovic said this morning.
“Those are the things that motivate me the most I think at this point. Very soon there are some more challenges, more things that are coming up. I have learned to overcome these kind of tough losses in the finals of slams, the ones that hurt the most.”
As with a lot of debate in the modern age, nuance is missing from the question of who is the greatest.
It’s the question that will never have an answer, because those who say Federer will always love Federer. Likewise with Rafa. Ditto with Novak.
Anyway, when you stack all the numbers up, the trophies won, the head-to-heads, what they each bring to the sport, you are more confused than when you first pondered the question.
So on it goes and 2022 with Federer’s last push aimed at the All-England Club and Nadal’s the red clay of Paris.
They need to get off the couch. Djokovic just needs to get off the canvas. He will. Without question, he will.
KATE, Duchess of Cambridge makes jaws drop after sharing a breathtaking picture from the Lake District
The Duchess of Cambridge spent an active day on land and water in the Lake District in the rugged northwest of England.
As part of her ongoing campaign to showcase the benefits of spending time in nature, Kate kicked off the day by going mountain biking with some air cadets.
The mother of three, 39, “passionately believes that spending time outdoors plays a pivotal role in children and young people’s future health and happiness, building foundations that last over a lifetime by encouraging active exploration and the opportunity to form and strengthen positive relationships,” according to the palace.
When she visited the area in June 2019 with Prince William, Kate told locals that her children love the area and walking in the fells. She also recalled how, when she was growing up, she loved to go boulder hopping in the countless streams that criss-cross the mountainsides.
Tuesday’s visit came as the RAF Air Cadets Windermere Adventure Training Centre was opened following a refit costing around $3 million (£2 million). Kate is the Honorary Air Commandant of the Royal Air Force Cadets. Hundreds of cadets from around the U.K. will use the center during their visits to the spectacular Lake District “to build their confidence and leadership skills” as they work toward achieving their Duke of Edinburgh Awards, Kate’s office at Kensington Palace said.
After her morning with the air cadets, Kate was set to hear more about how the stunning lakeland area also provided healing from one of Europe’s darkest chapters: the aftermath of the Holocaust.
She joined a boat trip with two of the Windermere Children, a group of 300 Holocaust survivors who were brought to stay in the Lake District in 1945 to help them recuperate following the atrocities they experienced in concentration camps and the ghettos of Nazi-occupied Europe.
“She was absolutely delightful,” Ike Alterman, a 93-year-old survivor from Poland who was a prisoner at Auschwitz, Buchenwald and Theresienstadt, told PEOPLE. “We laughed, she asked questions and she wanted to know the answers. We talked about her kids and my kids, and how we love the lakes. I have two girls and two grandchildren. I told her what happened to me during the war and when I arrived and how I progressed in business later.”
He added, “I didn’t know what to expect, but we spoke like a couple of friends. She was so down-to-Earth.”
Arek Hersh, 92, was also joined by the Duchess on the boat. A survivor of Auschwitz, he lost his parents and his brothers and sisters — in total 81 members of his family perished. He settled in Leeds, Yorkshire, and worked as a mechanic and, in later years, as a landlord for students in the city. He is featured in the 2020 film The Windermere Children and the documentary The Windermere Children: In Their Own Words.
“It was very nice. She was very interested,” he told PEOPLE. “It brought back happy memories of being on the lake.”
This group of children were called the ‘Windermere Children’. I wanted to be able to meet some of the survivors Ike & Arek in person to hear their stories; about how they went on to create their own companies, write a book & to this day, still sneak in the odd round of golf.(2/3) pic.twitter.com/XNTimAxZ8K
— The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge (@KensingtonRoyal) September 21, 2021
The Duchess’s office explained she wanted to meet some of those who came to the area at the time and hear how they had been helped to heal from their traumatic experiences by undertaking outdoor recreation, sport and art therapy at the Calgarth Estate nearby.
That poignant part of Kate’s visit to the Lake District very much fit in with both her and the other royals’ desire to engender religious tolerance and understanding, as well as to find imaginative ways to educate about past atrocities.
Last year, Kate highlighted some of the incredible stories of survival amid the Nazi occupation of much of Europe when she photographed Holocaust survivors and their grandchildren.
Tiger Woods Joins Simone Biles, Naomi Osaka, Others in NFT Craze: Partners With Tom Brady’s New Company
Over the last few months, we’ve all seen athletes release NFTs (nonfungible tokens) of their own. The buzz around those has increased with time, players as well as fans including in this digital collecting. This time, golf icon Tiger Woods is the latest addition to a list of celebrities to release a line of NFTs online.
According to recent reports, Woods taking part in this recent craze is via a company linked to NFL star Tom Brady. Let’s take a look at what exactly Woods has invested in.
THROWBACK : WATCH When Serena Williams Called Maria Sharapova B*TCH
Serena Williams vs Maria Sharapova is one of the most heated rivalries in the women’s game. Their match-ups have always been the most compelling ones. The viewership of their battles has been sky-rocketing compared to other rivalries on the WTA Tour.
There is some kind of friction existing between the two of them and the Grand Slam champions have never really got along with each other. In Sharapova’s autobiography, Unstoppable its mentioned their relationship has some kind of ‘intense antagonism.’
Post her two consecutive defeats, Williams has been ruthless against Sharapova on all the surfaces. Sharapova must have stunned the world by defeating Williams at Wimbledon 2004 finals and WTA Championships, but she lost 20 consecutive matches against the American veteran tennis player.
The heated-rivalry of women’s track has witnessed some bitter moments. One of them took place on Rod Laver Arena during the Australian Open 2007 finals. Serena was steamrolling over Maria in the first set with a 5-0 lead. Sharapova released her serve and later Williams charged onto the net.
The Russian wasn’t holding back, even she sprinted to the net, and in a blink of an eye, she smashed the ball on Serena Williams. A frustrated Serena moved back to the baseline for the next reception and simultaneously uttered the ‘B’ word.
Later, Williams thrashed the Russian ace 6-1, 6-2 and clinched her third Australian Open title.
“I will never lose to that little bitch again” – Serena Williams
According to Maria Sharapova’s autobiography, Unstoppable, Serena was super-annoyed after losing to the lanky Russian at Wimbledon 2004. The battle could be termed as Williams, the physical Goliath vs Sharapova, like David.
The American just couldn’t accept her Wimbledon final defeat to a 17-year-old skinny girl. Out of disappointment, Serena once used the ‘B’ word for Maria.
“Not long after the tournament, I heard that Serena told a friend — who then told me — ‘I will never lose to that little bitch again,’” Sharapova depicted in her book.
Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova (Picture Courtesy: USTA)
The salty rivalry of the women’s game concluded at Flushing Meadows during US Open 2019. In their very-first round-one WTA match-up Serena Williams took 59 minutes to crush Sharapova 6-1, 6-1.