Rick James meets Down the Line! I don't know about you but I think it's about damn time.
It really is the only descriptor left for Novak Djokovic: SUPER FREAK. How else do you explain what he has done during the first half of the 2011 season? After his grueling three set bout against Andy Murray in the semifinals he came back the next day and defeated Rafael Nadal 6-4, 6-4 for a fourth straight time to grab the Rome Masters crown; he raised his opening season winning streak to 37 matches (39 counting last season) in the process. As a bonus, he's the only baller to defeat Rafael Nadal + Roger Federer three straight times in a single season.
After doing my RAFOLE PREP before the match I thought about Nole's chances for pulling off the win yesterday. I knew mentally he would be around but how would he fare physically after the Muzz match? It's a lot to ask of any baller to play an epic battle the night before and come back and win the final, particularly when faced with Rafa on dirt. But as he's done all year the Serb came with full game face on and went to work, cracking his cross court backhand with murderous intent and defending like, er, Rafa 2.0 or something. He always seemed one step ahead in the points and, even if he wasn't, he fought his way to the fore. Nole may have been done up like a baller going to the beach with his technicolor Tacchini (much prefer the white over that black version BTW) but he wasn't there to relax. The World No. 2 was there to win. And he did, falling to the dirt in ecstatic victory.
Nole now brings this winning streak and shit load of confidence to Roland Garros. Rafa, in typical style, is already handing over the title of FAVORITE and all that comes with the role (read: pressure) to Nole. We all know what a mind game tennis can become so this news comes as no surprise. All I know is when you're dealing with a SUPER FREAK you never know what you're gonna get. So buckle up bitches. It's about to get interesting.
If you took Maria Sharapova out of the tennis court, or the world of sports for that matter, and plopped her into a college classroom or cubicle she might just stand out. Oh, something about being a freakishly tall blonde bomber who has an affinity for heels and high fashion. Not your typical 24-year old. But in between the lines she puts these qualities to use exacting precision and power over opponents all while looking like she might hit the brunch buffet at the club afterward. And in Rome it was no different.
Shrieka won her first title since Strasbourg last season dismantling Sam Stosur 6-2, 6-4 in the final. The 3-time Grand Slammer found vintage form (and I'm not talking the "cow on ice" eating dirt) during her semifinal defeat of top seed Caroline Wozniacki and brought it to her match against the Aussie hitting with the pace, depth and consistency we haven't seen in years. Her cross court forehand, in particular the running kind, was used to devastating effect. Her serve held steady in the tight moments and her returns were also on point negating any advantage Sammy usually gets on her potent kick serve. She walked to the trophy stage
So does this win, her biggest on the slippery stuff, mean she's a favorite heading into Roland Garros? Fuck yeah. I mean, Shrieka's not the top choice but she's certainly in the mix especially when you consider the current field. She even managed wins over Wozzi + Sammy in Rome, two lady ballers who most certainly are in the running as potential winners, and kept her groundies under control while still going for her shots. It's a potent mix that has won her majors in the past. And now Shrieka believes she's back and can play against these other lady ballers on clay and win big. "
Besides, she has the best fist-pumping cheerleader ever seen in a baller box:
With all that going for her I, for one, would not count her out. Would you?
[Photo(s): Clive Brunskill/Getty Images, AFP PHOTO / ANDREAS SOLARO]