October 31st, 2014
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It was a long time coming for Serbian Novak Djokovic, but he finally got his hands back on a Grand Slam title.
In beating Roger Federer in a classic five set encounter at Wimbledon, Djokovic got his hands on one of tennis’s biggest prizes for the first time since the 2013 Australian Open. Between the two titles he had lost three finals and must have been wondering where the next one was going to come from. The triumph for Djokovic firmly installed him at the head of the market for the 2014 US Open.
At a price of 7/4 to win the 2014 US Open and not being challenged by anyone until around the 3/1 mark of Rafael Nadal, when Djokovic steps out a Flushing Meadows later in the year, he will be aiming to reach his fifth consecutive final there. It will be his sixth time in the showcase match in New York, but he has only converted once, when he beat Rafael Nadal over four sets back in 2011. With seven career Grand Slams under his belt, can he finish the second half of the season with a bang in claiming his eighth?
It would take a brave punter not to back him. That’s four titles in the year for him now and bookmakers have already been looking ahead to 2015 and wondering what he will be able to achieve as well. He is a 6/4 shot to retain the Wimbledon title, and a tempting proposition at 7/2 to win three Grand Slam titles next year. Why not go all out and back him to land all four in a single season? Simply because of the French Open, where it is going to take something special to stop Rafael Nadal there.
The French Open is the only career Grand Slam title missing from his cabinet and it’s not going to be easy to get it. But thinking ahead to next year, the challenge of Roger Federer has to slow down, Andy Murray still looks a little short of the top draw quality that both Djokovic and Nadal can produce, and the great Spaniard Nadal does become slightly susceptible when he steps off the clay courts. So how far can Djokovic go next year?
Of course there is still the matter of closing out the 2014 season with style. Following his win at Wimbledon, Djokovic was elevated back to the status of Number One in the World Rankings, deposing Nadal, and not only that, Djokovic became the first man to book his place at the end of season Barclays ATP World Tour Finals, a tournament which he has won for the last two years running.
There are still ATP World Tour Masters 1000 title shots to come this year in Cincinnati, Paris, Shanghai and Toronto, and Djokovic’s progress will be under scrutiny through the US Open series. Until the start of August when the Rogers Cup comes around again, a Masters 1000 title that Djokovic has won three times in his career, it should be a quiet time for Djokovic. But expect him to come back with aplomb and frankly, it is likely to be a matter of it being his US Open title to throw away in early September.