At the Australian Open, Djokovic was able to officially have his name added to the discussion that was dominated by talk of Federer & Nadal. The French Open was simply business as usual for Nadal. But Wimbledon seems to be where the stakes are at their highest.
Federer has had to fend off his many detractors that have proclaimed that he is no longer the "King" due to the increasing will and determination of his opponents. Young talents like Djokovic and Nadal have the ability to apply pressure to him, both having beating him this year en route to Grand Slam victories. Having only won two titles that many would consider minor, Federer enters Wimbledon as No. 3 in the ATP Race rankings. This leads to increasing skepticism as to whether he has the ability to reassert himself as the best out there. Federer's five consecutive victories make Wimbledon a second home. Will he be able to secure a victory and protect his territory? "The king is NOT dead" will be his declaration if he's able to defend his title. Winning will finally get the critics off his back. Succumbing to Djokovic and Nadal at the Australian and French Opens seemed to have been the unfortunate fate of standing in the way of his opponents' destinies, but losing at Wimbledon will be inexcusable. The king will have a grass tomb.
Much like Federer, Nadal is having to ward off the critics, too. The one-trick pony is what he's being called, with the trick being the ability to make anyone on clay disappear. While it's a tremendous feat to have such an remarkable record on the red stuff, Nadal is hungry for more. The gallant beast that dwells within Nadal is no longer satiated by clay alone. It wants a full course meal: clay, hard, and of course, grass. The Queens Club Championship title proves that he has the gift and the guts to win on grass, being the first to taste green victory before his new rival, Djokovic. It definitely sends a message to both Federer and Nole that Nadal isn't just a clay court specialist. His vast improvement on grass would culminate in a Wimbledon victory this year, allowing everyone to openly discuss his diverse playing style. Hmmmm...diverse. I'm sure Nadal would love that people are describing him this way. He will have hit the core of Federer and side-stepped Djokovic as the new leader of tennis. Not winning at Wimbledon will, however, prevent him from escaping the "only on clay" tag. He'll never be No. 1 is what they'll say.
The third wheel, Djokovic, added more tension and drama to the Federer-Nadal rivalry. Skyrocketing up the ranks, Nole has cemented himself into the conversation. When it comes to any Grand Slam now, Djokovic is always a factor; the Big Two has now become the Big Three, with more prospect being in favor of 2008's Aussie Open champion. But with the hype comes great expectations. Is Djokovic able to live up to his new name or will his stay in the Federer-Nadal conversation be a short stint? Being victorious at Wimbledon would be a one-two punch to his supposed competition. Not only will he have matured faster than Nadal on grass but he will have also delivered a knock out blow to Federer that would end his reign and put Federer in unfamiliar territory: the backburner. This coup d’état would erase Federer from leading the discussion and would turn speculation into realization. He would also become Nadal's new headache. Much will have been accomplished. But surrendering Wimbledon will only dim the glow of tennis's supposedly brightest star. He's not as great as we all thought he was.
Is the situation as dramatic as I make it appear?