Blogs & Opinion


Return of the king

Djokovic determined to prove 2011 wasn't a one-off, says Barry

Barry Cowan Posted 24th February 2012 view comments

Roger Federer put his Davis Cup struggles behind him in Rotterdam and will consequently start the Dubai Tennis Championship in confident mood.

His decision to play Rotterdam after a lengthy break paid off as he clicked into gear in the final against Juan Martin del Potro, winning the first five games to take a grip on the title he never relinquished.

Champion company: Djokovic poses in front of an image of sprint king Usain Bolt

Champion company: Djokovic poses in front of an image of sprint king Usain Bolt

The importance of getting a title in the bag early on in the season shouldn't be underestimated, even to someone with as many behind him as Federer.

It was the perfect end to a week that had begun indifferently.

Federer looked scratchy in his opening matches - not surprising given his part in Switzerland's deflating 5-0 Davis Cup defeat to the USA.

Federer must now translate that form from indoors to outdoors and show that he can hit the same winning shots under pressure against someone like Novak Djokovic.

Barry Cowan
Quotes of the week

LIVE ON SKY SPORTS

Dubai Tennis Championship
10am, Monday, Sky Sports HD2
Full coverage details
Watch on the move with Sky Go
How to remote record

He subsequently had to deal with suggestions that he blamed teammate Stanislas Wawrinka for that defeat - claims he denied, but nonetheless ones that he needed to address.

In the semi-final he found himself a set and a break down against Nikolay Davydenko.

His game-plan at that point was reminiscent of that that he had adopted against Rafael Nadal at the Australian Open when he stubbornly refused to go to Plan B.

When he finally decided to change it up he succeeded in disrupting Davydenko's rhythm and he then played brilliantly for the rest of the match. Yes, he got a little lucky in the third as he was serving at 4-3 down and 0-40, but he wouldn't have won that match last year.

In fact last season he didn't win a single three-set match after losing the opening set.

Aura

Federer must now translate that form from indoors to outdoors and show that he can hit the same winning shots under pressure against someone like Novak Djokovic.

The Serbian beat Federer in last year's Dubai Championship final to win the tournament for the third year in succession and no doubt the Australian Open champion will be aiming to make history by extending that run.

Winning in Melbourne as Djokovic did creates a certain aura and a certain expectation from people who follow the sport.

In the last 18 months Djokovic has become the master of meeting that expectation and living up to his billing. He might not play his best in Dubai but he will certainly give his upmost to prove that he is hungry for more because we are all looking to see cracks in his armour.

He doesn't want last year's success to be remembered as a one-off; he wants to prove that he can be that dominant over four or five years. The only way you do that is by applying yourself in every tournament.

Two years ago Djokovic was awful in Dubai and in a weird way that may have helped him last year; he probably thought 'I couldn't have played any worse than I did in 2010 and I still won the event'!

Positives

One man who would love a crack at Djokovic is Andy Murray.

He's spent the last 10 days working hard with Ivan Lendl in Miami - which I bet has probably felt like another pre-season in itself!

I thought Murray showed a lot of class in the way he handled things on and off the court in Australia. I'd love to see the same attitude from him in Dubai, even if things don't go his way. If he concentrates on that, the winning will take care of itself.

Each year gets bigger and bigger for him with every Grand Slam that comes and goes without him winning it but for now we must focus on the positives.

Andy has now reached five Grand Slam semi-finals in a row and although he had a difficult period after the Aussie last year, he was able to re-group.

So long as he keeps trying and plugging away and improving, I believe that his day will come.

Question Barry...

The tennis comes thick and fast on Sky Sports in the coming weeks and our team will be right across all the action from Dubai, Indian Wells and Miami.

If you've got a question about any of these tournaments, or want to find out more about a particular player, why not drop skysports.com columnist Barry Cowan a line?

How to send your question in

Click here to email your question

Send your question to skysportsclub@bskyb.com, with 'Barry Cowan' in the subject field.

Use the feedback form below...

back to top

Other Tennis Experts:

Latest Posts in Tennis:

Latest News RSS feeds

Isner through to semi-finals

Top seed John Isner reached the Atlanta Open semi-finals with a straight-sets win over Australian Marinko Matosevic.

Fognini survives Croatia scare

Top seed Fabio Fognini survived a scare as he won through to the semi-finals of the Vegeta Croatia Open in Umag.

Haase comeback downs Youzhny

Defending champion Mikhail Youzhny crashed out of the Suisse Open after being beaten 3-6 6-1 6-4 by Robin Haase.

Eguchi bows out in Baku

Misa Eguchi's surprise run in the Baku Cup was ended by Bojana Jovanovski an the quarter-final stage.

Isner survives Atlanta scare

John Isner had to save two match points before finally seeing off the challenge of Robby Ginepri at the Atlanta Open.

Features

Roger Federer takes on Lindsey Vonn in Jungfraujoch - Top of Europe

Roger Federer takes on Lindsey Vonn in Jungfraujoch - Top of Europe

Chocolate and Roger Federer - everything that is great about picturesque Switzerland. Throw in Olympic skiing gold medalist Lindsey Vonn and you get the ultimate challenge.

North American swing: Stan Wawrinka and Grigor Dimitrov to star on hard courts

North American swing: Stan Wawrinka and Grigor Dimitrov to star on hard courts

With the US Open just around the corner, it is time for Stan Wawrinka to have another run.

Sky Sports runs through the highlights of the last week of sport

Sky Sports runs through the highlights of the last week of sport

It's been another eventful week across the world of sport, but again it showed that for every smiling winner there's a disheartened loser.