WITH ADEBAYO OLODAN
Outside football, athletics, basketball and boxing, one sporting event that l have identified with in recent years is tennis. I was initially won over by the dominance of the Williams sisters; Serena and Venus, so much so that l named my little daughter Serena.
Aside the performance of Serena and Venus, I was also impressed by the way they appear for matches (dressing especially the former) and more importantly, their skin colour.
Fast forward October 2018, Serena is surprisingly placed 13th on the ATP Rankings. It may not be out of order to conclude motherhood have affected the career of the former World No 1 female tennis player.
While Serena was making a mess of her female opponents then, Swiss-born Roger Federer and his left-handed Spanish compatriot, Rafael Nadal were the champions in the men’s category when it comes to the courts. For about 15 years, the duo ruled the tennis world and are still in control despite their advanced age.
However, that duopoly may soon be relegated to history following the impeccable form of Novak Djokovic.
For the Serbian, 2018 is no doubt an incredible year in his career.
Djoker Nole as the Serbian is called by fans, returned from an injury in No 18 on ATP Rankings but he has surprisingly shot into the world No 2 spot with almost three months to end the year.
Djokovic defeated Croatian player, Born a Coric 6-3, 6-4 in the Shanghai final on Sunday to move just 215 points behind Nadal in the ATP Rankings released on Monday. What a player, what a person? Well done Djoker!
The Serbian has been able to displace Federer in the No 2 spot despite playing fewer tournaments than the latter in 2017 and 2018.
At the moment, Djokovic has four Shanghai title, 32 Masters title and 72 ATP trophies to his credit.
And with Nadal struggling with a knee injury at the moment, Djokovic has the opportunity of taking over the top spot as early as October 29, 2018, if he plays in Vienna or Basel and at least get to the final. With the remarkable turn his career has taken this year, it will be difficult for anyone to rule out the possibility of the Serbian taking over from Nasal on the top of the ATP log anytime soon.
Interestingly, Djokovic and the Spaniard are expected to square up on December 22 at Sports Hall, King Abdullah Sports City, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
While he remains sidelined, Nadal has taken time to do some humanitarian work by joining the clean-up operation following deadly flash flood in his native Mallorca. Hopefully we expect the tennis icon to return to the courts soon ahead of the showdown in the Asian country.
On the ATP Rankings, Nadal with 7,660 points placed first, Djokovic 2nd with 7,445 points, Federer 3rd (6,260 points), Argentine Juan Martin del Petro is 4th on the log with 5,860 points while German tennis player, Alexander Zverev is presently No 5 in the world.
Others in the top 10 are; Marin Ciric of Croatia with 4, 135 points, Austria’s Dominic Them (3,825 points), Kelvin Anderson of South Africa with 3,775, Bulgaria’s Grigor Dimitrov (3,440) and John lsner of United States with 3, 290 points.
Surprisingly, there is however no Frenchman in the top 20 ATP Rankings for the first time since October, 2006.
AFCON 2019: Well done Eagles, bring on South Africa
As expected, the Super Eagles completed a double against the Mediterraneans of Libya with another win in Sfax, Tunisia.
Interestingly, South Africa dropped points away at Seychelles on Tuesday.
Though the Eagles were not convincing in Tunisia, Coach Gernot Rohr will rather appreciate having another three points in the bag and review the way his team played later. I expect the focus to be on South Africa from now as the match in Johannesburg is important for the Eagles to retain leadership of the Group. Let’s hope our boys remain fit and the coach makes the right selection and tactical decision against the Mandela Boys. With victory against the South Africans, Seychelles will pose no threat to Nigeria even with a team largely made of domestic league players. Good luck Eagles!