So before the Rafa haters (and perhaps Djoke haters too, but he seems to have fairly few dissenters here) jump all over me, let me preface what I am about to say with the fact that I am not a Rafa fan and that I hope Federer wins his 5th Wimbledon and continues to dominate to end any doubt that he is clearly the GOAT (in my mind he already is as I believe it is obviously just a matter of time till he destroys Sampras’ record).
That being said, I hope in future Wimbledons people (including myself) will not underestimate Nadal or Djokovic and that they have found new respect for them for their play these past two weeks. When the draw was made I considered Hewitt or possibly Baghdatis to get through Djokovic’s section and Berdych or possibly Youzhny to get through Nadal’s and go on to make the final (I had Nadal getting by Soderling in a tough match but succumbing to Youzhny) and reading posts on here many shared similar opinions. There were many calls of how significant the “luck” factor in Nadal’s draw last year would now be exposed and of Djokovic’s lack of proficiency on the surface. I do feel bad for Youzhny and the problems he had with his back but we can’t continue to make excuses (such as Soderling’s lack of a brain, though the rain on the flip side almost let Soderling take the match).
I think it is ridiculous to make a favourites list for Wimbledon to contain anything other than Federer, but if one were pushed I would think now people would have to include these two, along with Roddick, and that now Nadal and Djokovic are clearly the second and third best players in the world across ALL surfaces. It is only a matter of time before both show just as significant success at the Aus and US Opens (not that their Masters series performances on hard courts should suggest otherwise).
I think the term grass clown needs to be used more sparingly too in general, a clown on a surface should be someone that we are a little surprised to see win a match in a slam on that surface (eg Roddick on clay, Blake to a lesser extent). With that in mind, Davydenko and even Canas (for testing Hewitt) should be congratulated as both have demonstrated more this Wimbledon than the above have at Roland Garros. I’m sure people will point out the slow grass, but we already knew this was the case at the start of the slam so why continue to underestimate their chances? For those who will continue to, stop living in the past, Wimbledon doesn’t look like it’s going to be a serve fest for a while now, all hail the “grass clown” era
PS I know the term dirt-baller is in the title and Djokovic and Davydenko are not really labeled as such (unlike Nadal and Canas) but there is a general vein of labeling those who can’t play well on grass as dirt-ballers and I just generally despise the term as it is over-used. I also know that matches are going on right now that could make some parts of this post silly but I would disagree with this notion and believe in the spirit of this post irrespective of the final results of those matches. Also in the vein of giving respect where due, I will give more to Baghdatis who I’ve seen enough of now to realize that he is more than what I thought the flash in the pan last year was.