Many people believed that 2016 would be a historic year, as Djokovic steamrolled his way to the first calendar year grand slam since 1969. After title wins at the Australian Open and French Open, the Serbian number one appeared so far ahead of the field that his only real competition was himself.
Suddenly, a bad day at the office (or a really good day for Sam Querrey), left the sport’s world stunned; as the Serbian’s Wimbledon campaign ended in the first week. After yet another early loss at the Olympics, Djokovic’s dominance has come into question, and suddenly, another name is starting to gain momentum.
Andy Murray was the player who took advantage of both of Djokovic’s early losses; as he secured a second Wimbledon title and Olympic Gold Medal. Having lost the first two major finals of the season (to Djokovic), it has become debatable whether the Scot has put together a better season than the world number one.
Due to the Olympic Games not offering any points to the participants, even with his triumph, Murray did not gain any ground on Djokovic; at least on the computer. What the Scot did gain, is innumerable amounts of confidence and momentum heading into the US Open.
The fact that Andy Murray won the gold medal and immediately set his sights on flying to Cincinnati, shows how much he wants to gain ground on Djokovic. The Serbian has decided to skip the one Master’s 1000 title that he has not won, and was spotted attending an Enrique Iglesias concert.
For Djokovic, recharging his batteries is more important than keeping his mammoth lead. I, for one, was surprised that Murray did not withdraw from Cincinnati, considering how emotionally draining the Olympic experience has been for him.
If Murray can recover in time, he has a pretty favorable draw and could improve on his quarterfinal appearance from last year. Mathematically, it is impossible for the Scot to catch up to Djokovic by the end of this year, but since Murray did not play particularly well at the US Open and during the Asian swing, he can make great headway towards having a serious crack at the top spot by the middle of next season.
That is, if Djokovic continues to lose early and Murray continues to win. That’s the great thing about tennis, Murray is clearly playing the best tennis in the world (right now) but an early loss here or there can suddenly change the conversation yet again. Tennis personifies the saying, “the older you are, the better you used to be.”