© Ella Ling

Novak Djokovic

Tim Henman: the doubts about the Big Four


Tim Henman on why there are “questions marks against every one of the top four”.

Henman on Novak Djokovic:
“Can Djokovic have another year like last season? I think the honest answer is no. He was just that good in 2011 – his form in the first six months of the year was like nothing I had ever seen in the game before. It was phenomenal that he played that well and that consistently, and beat the best players. He won the Australian Open, he beat Nadal on clay, he beat him in finals of the Masters Series, he didn’t lose a match until the French Open. It was incredible, and I’m not sure that anyone can repeat that. With Djokovic, can he back up the year he had last season? He’s finished as the world number one, but it’s even harder to come back and do that again. How will his year go this season when he has to defend all those titles? He’s a phenomenal player and a great athlete. He’s going to be there or thereabouts in 2012. Whether he wins those big matches, we will have to wait to see.”

Henman on Rafael Nadal:
“Although Rafa does a great job of concentrating on his own game, there’s no doubt that Djokovic has had his number. He lost to Djokovic in big finals. Rafa will be looking to hold on to the French Open title and to add others to it. That is going to be interesting to see how he responds in 2012.”

Henman on Roger Federer:
“Federer finished the year so strongly. Over the years, Federer has won so many big matches, and last season he lost a couple. That’s inevitable in this sport. You can’t always win these big matches. He could have beaten Jo-Wilfried Tsonga at Wimbledon, when he led him by two sets to love in the quarter-finals, and could have taken one of the match points against Djokovic in the semi-finals of the US Open. And who knows what would have happened if he had won the first set of the French Open final against Nadal? But that’s where it amazes me that people want to write him off. And then he has a strong tournament, and he’s looking fit and fresh, and for some reason people are surprised by that. That’s incredibly naive.”

Henman on Andy Murray:
“Murray has been in three slam finals, and 2011 was his best year, making the semi-finals of all the four slams. It was a very consistent year. But he wants to get that first major under his belt. His game is there to win a slam. I think at the most critical moments he has to stick to his game-plan, and really focus on what he’s doing, and make sure that there are no distractions. I’ve always said that he can do it, and I think he will do it. Is time running out for him? No. People talk about the fact that players don’t tend to win their first slam after a certain age, but it’s rubbish. You look at Thomas Muster, or Petr Korda, or Goran Ivanisevic. It doesn’t matter what age it happens, as long as it happens. I think that the first one will be the hardest. I think he will win more than one. But again, his generation is unbelievably tough.”