Having looked at the Nadal-Federer axis in the first part of
my review of the year, it's now time to focus on the other contenders.
Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic are still the main contenders
when it comes to disturbing the Spaniard and the Swiss.
Together they would make up the perfect player - Murray owns
what Djoko misses and Djoko has what Murray lacks.
The Scotsman is so gifted, he can do everything with a
tennis ball. He has got a wonderful hand and is one of the best players when it
comes to returning serves. His sense of the game is amazingly accurate.
Andy also knows how to speed up the game by taking the ball
early and getting to the net. He's also one of the fastest out there.
Yet, for the past three seasons, he hasn't succeeded in fighting
at the same level as Roger and Rafa. Even if he beats them from time to time
and pushes them to their limit each time he faces them, he lacks consistency in
In 2010, after the Australian Open final, he went through a
long struggle until Wimbledon. During the Masters, he produced an outstanding
match against Rafa in the semi-final. But don't forget that both events were
played 'at home' in London.
He was brilliant this summer, winning Toronto but ended
totally out of sorts at the US Open. I personally want to see Andy fighting on
a regular basis with Rafa and Roger and I really believe he can do it.
But for the moment I don't feel that he's giving himself the
chances to achieve it. He looks as if he doesn't believe in himself anymore, as
if he's thinking that he missed too many opportunities.
I'd like him to rediscover his ambition because he is a player
who can still have a say in the history of this sport. He has the fitness and
the technique, and he has never overestimated either Federer or Nadal.
Djokovic doesn't possess the same technical skills as Murray,
but he has such hunger and such a huge ego that he prevents himself from
He has finally got his serve back: technically more accurate
and so more efficient. He's an amazing athlete, really fit, slender and
explosive while being very flexible at the same time. He's really focused and ambitious
The second part of last season and his triumph in the Davis
Cup are all the weapons he needed to make him become a tremendous competitor.
If for now Nadal and Federer are still one step ahead of
him, Nole is not that far off and ready to strike. If one of the two is
struggling in 2011, no doubt the Serbian will take advantage.
I've always liked Robin Soderling's game. He's a great
player, having reached two French Open finals, but I've never thought he could
really hold his own with Rafa and Roger. His striking strength is clearly
better than most but his flaws are too obvious to prevent such amazing players
like the Swiss and the Spaniard taking advantage of them.
He's not quick enough on the court and his struggle with timing
makes him a far too fragile a player over the course of an entire year.
But when he's at his best and when Rafa or Roger aren't,
he's clearly one of those able to beat them. Yet he still needs to improve if
he wants to be a threat all year long.
Juan Martin Del Potro is going through some very tough
times. He has been careless by continuing to play with a wrist tendonitis, and he
ended up paying a high price. He had to stop playing and then got was forced to
Until now, he hasn't been able to fully recover and 2011
doesn't look good for him, due to his lack of competition.
At this level, a year off is huge. Returning to the top will
require time and I don't see him playing during the first six months of the