Clay the real test for Djokovic


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So, another week, another tournament and ...
oh, wait, the same winner.

Tramlines is being facetious, of course. Novak
Djokovic's third-set, tie-break win over world number one Rafael Nadal in the
Miami Masters final
was an absolute thriller.

Tramlines was actually let out of the office
on a good behaviour bond on Sunday evening but how do you think it chose to
celebrate its freedom? That's right - by watching the final. So ingrained is
tennis in TL's psyche, it was simply too good a match-up to miss.

Apart from being yet another triumph over
one of his rivals, that win in Miami
extended Djokovic's unbeaten streak to 26 matches, 24 for this season, and was
his third tournament on the bounce.

The Australian Open was impressive from the
Serb, but this run in the American spring has been arguably even more so - the world
number two not only winning two Masters tournaments in three weeks (they are
both 10-day tournaments) but also preceding that with victory in Dubai.

Gone are the days when Djokovic was a
talented but mentally suspect player who received criticism for pulling out of
matches, citing anything from breathing problems to heat exhaustion and
everything in between.

The 23-year-old now knows, without any
shadow of a doubt, that he can beat any opponent he steps out on court with and
Nadal even said after the final that he fears for his world number one ranking.

However, Tramlines would argue that this
last point is getting a little carried away.

A 26-match winning streak is the sort of
thing most players can only dream of, although Guillermo Vilas went unbeaten for
46 matches in 1977, picking up titles in Kitzbuhel (clay), Washington
(clay), Louisville (hard), South
Orange (hard), Columbus (hard), US Open (clay) and Paris (clay).

just because TL can't quite get its head around this, here's another stat for
you; in 1984 John McEnroe had a win-loss ratio of 82-3 across all surfaces.

But, and herein lies the rub for Djokovic, the Tour
now moves on to clay where Nadal, despite his increased success on all surfaces
over the years, is still very much The King.

Nadal has lost just 16 matches on clay
throughout his entire career, compared to 203 wins, picking up 29 titles (including
five French Opens) in the process.

Last year, the Spaniard won in Monte Carlo,
Rome, Madrid and at Roland Garros, whilst he also picked up three claycourt titles
in 2009 (Monte Carlo, Barcelona, and Rome), four claycourt titles in 2008 (Monte
Carlo, Barcelona, Hamburg and Roland Garros), four in 2007, four in 2006 and
four in 2005.

On the other hand, while Djokovic
possesses the still-impressive claycourt win-loss ratio of 82-30, he has won
only four claycourt titles and only reached one semi-final on the surface last
year - in Monte Carlo.

On top of that the Serb has never beaten
Nadal on the dirt, red or any other colour.

Djokovic is almost unrecognisable from
the player he was 12 months ago, leading Serbia to Davis Cup triumph at the
end of the year seemingly a never-ending source of confidence.

It would surely be madness to think
Djokovic can remain unbeaten as the Tour moves to Europe
but if he continues to produce the kind of tennis he has so far this year, he
stands a very real chance of upsetting the King of Clay.

Now that really would be impressive.

- - - - -


Despite his fairly abysmal loss to Alex
Bogomolov Jr in the opening round in Miami,
Andy Murray actually moves up one spot to fourth in the world rankings.

The Scot also crashed out in his first
match last year and so had no points to defend while Robin Soderling was defending
a semi-final appearance, which he failed to do, losing instead in the third round
to Juan Martin Del Potro.

Fernando Verdasco and Jurgen Melzer both
move up one spot while Gael Monfils enters the top 10 at the expense of Andy
Roddick who failed to defend his title in Miami
and plummets down to 14th.

And talking of Roddick, he also has to
contend with the fact that he is no longer the top-ranked American player as
Mardy Fish's win over David Ferrer in the quarter-finals saw him move up to 11th
in the world.

Over on the women's side, whilst the top
five remain the same, it's all change from there on down.

Victoria Azarenka's triumph in the Sony
Ericsson final sees her jump two places to sixth, while Li Na and Jelena
Jankovic drop one place to seventh and eighth respectively.

Maria Sharapova meanwhile re-enters the
top 10 after her run to the final, moving from 13th to ninth, while Serena
Williams, bizarrely, is back in at 10 (from 12) despite still not having played
since Wimbledon last year.

Venus Williams, by the way, continues her
slide down the rankings, dropping to 15th from ninth.

- - - - -


WINNER: "Supercuts did me wrong. I look like
a pumpkin pie haircutted freak. And no, I'm not gonna tweet a pic. Give me a
few weeks". Please tweet a photo, Bob or Mike Bryan, please. TL has no way
of knowing which Bryan bro this is because their
tagline is simply Bryan
. TL also has no idea what a pumpkin pie haircutted freak would look
like, hence the need for a photo. But, easily pleased, it made it chuckle - and
so it wins this week's competition.

RUNNER-UP: Two tweets for the price of one for the
runners-up spot this week (TL likes value for money. And besides neither would
make much sense on their own) as Janko Tipsarevic comes up with this beauty:
"Ofcourse,there is a guy snorin LIKE A MANIAC in the resting room at Franfurkt Airport..." before quickly
following it with the following revelation "This just in:It's a woman..."

WOODEN SPOON: Who knows what the picture was of, but the point is that Ivo Karlovic has clearly
misunderstood the fundamental premise of the April Fools joke - that it should
be played only on April 1: "Guys, I was just messing w you. I took a
picture of the line. There's no ball mark. Aprils fool. Third day."

- - - - -


You could be forgiven for thinking this
contest is becoming slightly one-sided. In fact, not only would you be forgiven for
it, you'd be right.

While A-Bog (GB) did a passable attempt,
just, to keep up with his American namesake last season (only losing 20-12 in
the standings), he has simply been left behind this year and that does not look
like changing any time soon.

Neither of the two venerable players have
been in action this week but a little fact like that is not going to stop
Tramlines from dishing out the points. Oh no.

TL is going to award another point to
A-Bog (US).

Actually, despite his loss to world
number 958 Andrew Fitzpatrick, A-Bog (GB) has actually gone back up four places
in the rankings to 396. No, TL isn't sure how that happened either.

However, that is comprehensively bested by A-Bog (US)'s steady rise, a move of
11 places taking him to within spitting distance of the top 100 in the world. He
now sits at 107, just 21 points shy of Mischa Zverev at 100.

Standings: A-Bog (US)
25-13 A-Bog (GB). Season standings: 5-1.

- - - - -


Winner of last week's competition,
martins.ricardo18, has not emailed
anything in so there is no Reader's Corner this week. Let's hope for better
luck next week.

However, congratulations go to predragdjuric
for his effort to accompany a photo of Djokovic and Murray playing doubles
together: Andy: "Thank you for doing this, Novak." Nole: "No need
to thank me, I am famous for my charity work."

You have thereby earned the right for 100
of your finest words on any tennis-related topic to be published here in next
week's blog. Just email us at

Below is this week's photo. You know the drill - leave your efforts in the comments section and check back next week to see how you fared.

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