It’s been a strange year with so much absence of Novak Djokovic. Although we saw him win Wimbledon a few weeks ago, the reality is that we miss the Serbian on this Masters 1000 summer tour, where he was always one of the great performers. Fortunately, we can always look to the past to save a memorable episode, like its title in Montreal 2007, there are only fifteen seasons. It was the first time the Balkan really stunned the world of tennis, the tournament where he shocked the door in an outrageous way, warning of all that was to come. Don’t you remember? Sit back and listen to this historical tale.
At just 20 years old, Novak Djokovic was at the time the n°4 in the world ranking, even if he had already touched the podium that year. He was only in the top 100 for a few seasons, although he started 2007 as number 16. In his record, he has 5 individual titles, two obtained in the academic year 2006 (Amersfoort, Metz) and three conquered before this summer (Adelaide, Miami, Estoril). Yes, He was already a Masters 1000 champion, although this price would arrive a week later than desired. In Indian Wells, we saw him fall in the final against Rafa Nadal, a rival he would beat a few days later in Miami (quarter-final), then accelerate towards the title, leaving Andy Murray and Guillermo Cañas on the way. . And in Grand Slam? He still didn’t know what it was like to enter a final, although it wasn’t going to take long.
Curiously, he would arrive at the Masters 1000 in Montreal after a bad experience. After falling in the semi-finals at Wimbledon, Belgrade added an unexpected event to their schedule. He decided to travel to Umag ATP 250, where he reached the final in 2006 – he lost to Wawrinka – and where he would now start as the top seed and heavy favorite to win. However, in the second, one of his compatriots appeared to ruin his plans. Victor Troicki, a year older than ‘Nole’, cut him off from a painful comeback (2-6, 6-4, 7-5). It was the first time they had met on the professional circuit and it would also be the only time Troicki would perform the miracle. In the next fourteen, luck turned the other way. The fact is that this defeat caused the one from Belgrade to lose a place in the standings and arrive in Canada as world No. 4. As fate would have it, the three others who were in front were her dance partners in Quebec.
Before we get to the main course, let’s start with the starters, which weren’t bad either. Novak Djokovic started the tournament beating in his first match Nicolas Kiefer (#254) for a 6-3 brace, taking advantage of a moment when the German was coming back after an injury stoppage. In the round of 16, things started to get complicated with the presence of David Nalbandian, #26 worldwide that week. It was the first time he faced the Argentinian, who is five years older than Novak. It didn’t turn out badly either: 6-2 and 6-3. As if nothing had happened, the Serb began his adventure by overthrowing a former No. 4 and a former World No. 3, enough to face the barbarism that awaited him in the next three rounds.
QUARTERFINALS, ANDY RODDICK (#3)
It is true that Roddick’s poster in 2007 was already that of a player relegated to supporting roles. His outburst after winning the US Open in 2003 and becoming number 1 has barely made a trip, as two aliens will soon arrive to upstage him. Despite everything, he was still part of the top3 of the standings and Montreal arrived after winning the title in Washington the previous week. Since the end of the clay-court tour, the American had won 19 of his last 21 matches, but on this day he couldn’t beat Djokovic. It was the first time they met and that of Belgrade did not move the pulse (7-6, 6-4). Of course, Andy will retire in 2012 with the privilege of being one of the few players to have a favorable H2H against Nole (4-5).
SEMI-FINALS, RAFA NADAL (#2)
Nadal again, must have thought Djokovic. the man who he had beaten him in five of their six encounters until. In 2007 alone, the Spaniard cut it in the Indian Wells final, Rome quarter-finals, Roland Garros semi-finals and, again, Wimbledon semi-finals. Nobody remembered his victory against the Spaniard in the quarter-finals in Miami, even if this game on hard ground would be his compass to hit the table again. Thanks to his 11 aces and saving all the break points he conceded (8/8), the Balkan dressed as a hero (7-5, 6-3) and qualified for the third final of the Masters 1000 of his career, where Prince Charming was Waiting for him.
FINAL, ROGER FEDERER (#1)
Because Federer represented everything beautiful, neat, perfect. He was the best in the world since 2004, when he finally left behind his evil arts and focused only on the game. There he had no rival, he only suffered when a certain Rafa Nadal crossed his path, but the Spaniard had lost the day before, so everyone took it taken for granted. Swiss and Serbian they had met four times: all victories for Roger. The data did not invite us to think about the surprise, even less given the background of the Swiss in the final. In the last three and a half years, he had won 38 trophies, losing just seven times in the final match (six to Nadal and one to Nalbandian). The challenge presented to him from Belgrade was not easy, but his confidence pushed him to perform a heroic act.
The show lasted 2h13min and the victory went to Novak (7-6, 2-6, 7-6). To this day, looking at the stats, many wonder how the Serb could win this game, if he wasn’t better than Roger in all respects. Very simple: play better in tie-breaks. This would be a foundational section throughout a rivalry which currently dominates the Balkans by 27-23. That Sunday, the light bulb went on to sign several records in his personal account. It was the first time he beat Federer, or what amounts to the same thing, the first time he beat a current world number 1. It was also the first time that someone beat Federer and Nadal in the same tournament, although this data has only grown in prestige over the years. Novak was champion in his first appearance in Canada, a feat he had not achieved in any of the other Masters 1000s.
By the way, do you know which players have recently won this tournament? Andy Roddick picked it up in 2003, Roger Federer did so in 2004 and 2006, while Rafael Nadal he filled the missing gap in 2005. Djokovic had not only tilted the top 3 of the world rankings on consecutive days, he had also eliminated the last three champions of the event. A hat trick what it meant the first savagery of the Serbs on the circuit, who a few weeks later would participate in his first Grand Slam final in New York. There, he crosses paths with Federer again, although this time the Swiss showed no mercy. Novak finished the season as No. 3, with five titles and a 68-19 record. In Grand Slam only Roger and Rafa could stop him, a definite mark to understand that he was ready to sit with them at the same table.
THE FANTASTIC FOUR
15 years have passed since that fabulous 2007 Canadian Masters, enough to appreciate what this man did when he was only 20 years old. Since 1968, the season in which the Open Era began, only four players in history have reached win the top three in the same tournament of the world ranking.
- Boris Becker in Stockholm 1994: Stich, Sampras, Ivanisevic.
- Novak Djokovic at Montreal 2007: Roddick, Nadal, Federer.
- David Nalbandian in Madrid 2007: Nadal, Djokovic, Federer.
- Daniel Medvedev in the Fine ATP 2020: Djokovic, Nadal, Thiem.
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