Say Goodbye to the Big 4!

By
Updated: September 12, 2014

Marin Cilic’s first ever Grand Slam victory in New York has started to show cracks in the so called ‘Big Four’.

 


 

This year’s tennis season has been an absolute roller coaster from start to finish.

Before the calendar year had begun, most of us spectators and fans were expecting Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, the Swiss Maestro Roger Federer and the Scotsman Andy Murray to be dominating the big prizes.

 

The Australian Open and so it Begins…

Within weeks into the season the calendar entered Melbourne for the Australian Open. Murray, was entering the first Grand Slam of the year just after recovering from back surgery at the end of the previous. This was already an opportunity for one of the lower ranks to use the advantage.

The quarter-finals of the tournament was a very interesting line-up, the highlighted fixtures included Stanislas Wawrinka up against defending champion Djokovic after a memorable meet up the year before.

The Serbian came out on top in their 2013 edition, but only by a whisker. Stan the man arrived this time even stronger, determined to get the job done. The game went all the way to maximum sets after Novak had to comeback from 2 sets to 1 down. Wawrinka won the deciding set breaking the previous winner’s reputation of 25-match winning streak in Melbourne, 28-match winning streak overall and a streak of 14 consecutive Grand Slam semifinals to an end.

 

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Come on! Wawrinka’s famous win over Djokovic started to spill the beans.

 

When previewing the semifinals of the Australian Open. On the one hand you have the historical rivalry of Nadal and Federer, on the other hand you have the world number 7 & 8 Tomas Berdych and Wawrinka. I’m sure the tournament organizers were expecting another two big names in place for the Czech Republican and Swiss-man.

Nadal and Wawrinka proceeded into the final making it the 3rd time the two have bumped into each other at a final and the first at a Grand Slam final. When comparing the performances and experience of the Spaniard and the Swiss-man, it was certainly a no brainer who the bookies would pick as favourite.

From the word go Wawrinka was in complete control of the final winning the opening two sets, surely at the time you’d think the Rafa Bull wouldn’t be beaten that easily. A set was won back but that was all Nadal could offer as injuries started to haunt him. 

Wawrinka had won a Grand Slam for the very first time. His runner-up opponent may have not been 100% fit but the 28 year-old had upset the odds by beating the defending champion and overcoming a player who has a double digit amount of Grand Slams.

 

Stanislas Wawrinka of Switzerland poses with the Norman Brookes Challenge Cup after defeating Rafael Nadal of Spain in their men's singles final match at the Australian Open 2014 tennis tournament in Melbourne

You’re mine! Stan the man’s Australian Open win started to give out the signs.

 

The shocking start to the season left the fans of the sport asking a few questions, could we be seeing more upsets? Is it going to become unpredictable? Only time would tell, a lot of excitement was ready to boil.

It was back to it’s usual self when the tour reached Roland Garros, Nadal kept hold of his incredible form on clay by reaching the final to beat his fellow rival Djokovic in four sets. The Spaniard was still king of the clay courts… for now.

 

Wimbledon: Edge of Seat Action

When the tennis stars arrived at Wimbledon for the third Grand Slam of the year, there was sure to be some nervy moments after what we had witnessed in 2013 when most of the big names couldn’t even reach into the second week of the tournament.

Nadal was struck once again at the All England Club suffering a fourth round exit to Nick Kyrgios who’d go on to shine at the tournament.

Murray’s recent form on grass was very well remembered in a British perspective after going onto win gold at London 2012 then finally getting both hands on the Wimbledon trophy. But the double Grand Slam winner hardly lifted a finger in the quarter-finals against Grigor Dimitrov, who was thrown off the court by the 11th seed in straight sets.

 

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D’oh! Murray’s season was bad to worse after heartache at Wimbledon.

 

The semifinals of Wimbledon were a threat towards the big 4. With Canada’s Milos Raonic and Dimitrov reaching their first Grand Slam semis against Federer and Djokovic, it was showing that the mid top 10 were not to be messed around.

Federer showed his magnificent old tricks on the grass court against Raonic in straight sets while Djokovic was a bit shaky from time to time but overcame his scare to put Dimitrov out of the courts for another year.

The final resulted with the Serbian taking home a second Wimbledon crown from the fan’s favourite.

 

Novak Djokovic, Wimbledon 2011

Djokovic won a tight final encounter with Federer.

 

Rogers Cup: it’s all about Preparation

After saying farewell to the grass courts for another year, more signs of weakness from the big 4 were revealing at the Rogers Cup in Toronto as the tournament was part of the run up to the final Grand Slam of the season.

When it comes to the ATP 1000 tours, you know all the big names will be placing their names down unfortunately for Nadal, he confirmed missing out on defending the Rogers Cup and Cincinnati Masters. 

This year’s Rogers Cup had it’s poster boy Raonic but the player highlight was the tournament winner, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. The Frenchman has been having a rough time by going down a few steps in the rankings ladder but boy did he fight off some tough opponents. In the third round Tsonga thrashed Djokovic in straight sets, a stage later the 29 year-old killed Murray off the courts in three sets, nailed Wimbledon semifinalist Dimitrov in straight sets then goes and beats Federer in two tie breaks in the finale.

 

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Piece of cake! Tsonga played the best tennis of his life in Toronto.

 

The solo performances pulled off by Tsonga just weeks before the US Open took place just showed that any underrated player can silence the doubters with a trophy in their arms.

 

US Open: the Odds before the Final

A week just before the pros were to enter Flushing Meadows, the defending champion Nadal sadly announced of not competing in New York this year. It summed up the 14 time Grand Slam winner’s season, he may have won the French Open earlier in the year but the injuries were showing that one day the Spaniard will have to throw in the towel and maybe very soon.

The quarter-finals saw Murray compete against Djokovic, a slight pause for your heart because normally we don’t see this kind of encounter until the semis but with Murray’s rank going down the drain to 8th spot shows struggle to keep up.

With Djokovic and Federer reaching the semifinals once again there was no surprise, but surely the two recent US Open champions were not expecting to see Kei Nishikori of Japan and Cilic of Croatia as their opponents a couple of days before the conclusion?

The ‘Super Saturday’ kicked off with Djokovic and Nishikori, the Japanese tennis player’s experience has never been this high before. Nishikori didn’t let that get to him though, he only lost a set in the second to win in four sets.

Later on in that day, Federer had one of the greatest chances of making it a staggering 18 Grand Slams. Cilic though, never gave the maestro room to breath, Federer was running all over the place to return the shots and admitted after the game that he had no chances of making a game changing attack.

 

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A couple of new faces on the scene.

 


2014 Grand Slam Winners

 

Australian Open – Stanislas Wawrinka (SUI)

vs Rafael Nadal 6-3, 6-2, 3-6, 6-3

 

French Open – Rafael Nadal (ESP)

vs Novak Djokovic 3-6, 7-5, 6-2, 6-4

 

Wimbledon – Novak Djokovic (SER)

vs Roger Federer 6-7 (7-9), 6-4, 7-6 (7-4), 5-7, 6-4

 

US Open – Marin Cilic (Cro)

vs Kei Nishikori 6-3, 6-3, 6-3


 

When you notice that 2 players have won their first Grand Slam title this year then look at the other 2 players that have added another Grand Slam to their tally, it just shows how unpredictable 2014 has been in the world of tennis.

Next season, at this moment in time I would put a cheeky pound on any of the current top 20 players to win a Grand Slam think about how high the odds will be and also think how possible it could be.

 

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