While most of America's sports fans this week are focused on the NBA play-offs, there's an even bigger sports story brewing in the world of tennis. Tennis has fallen out of favor with American sports fans in the past few years, mainly because there are no longer any American stars in the sport. This week it was announced that no American man or woman would be in the Top Ten of the world rankings next week, the first time this has happened since the pro rankings began in the sport in the early 1970's.
But thanks to players like Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic, the sport of tennis is still thriving, regardless of whether Americans pay attention or not. Federer is slowly beginning to slip from the top of the game, but that's not the big story this week. The big news this week is coming from Novak Djokovic, who yesterday beat Rafael Nadal in the finals of the Madrid Open, Nadal's "home court". All the big Spanish sports stars, former #1 Carlos Moya, soccer pin-up boy Ronaldo Cristiano, and former Wimbledon, U.S. Open and French champion Manolo Santana, were there to watch their hometown boy, but their support for Nadal was in vain. Djokovic's win was an important milestone in his career; it was the first time, in ten tries, that he defeated Nadal on Nadal's strongest surface of clay. But that's still not the big story. The real news is that Djokovic is currently 32-0 for 2011. That's right, no one has defeated Djokovic this year, which means he's won every tournament he's entered, including the Australian Open, Indian Wells and the Sony Ericsson Open. Djokovic's win streak is no fluke, either; he's defeated the other top two players, Federer and Nadal, three times each, (an unbelievable accomplishment), in the course of winning five tournaments. His win yesterday enabled Djokovic to surpass Bjorn Borg on the all-time record of "best starts" for the year; Borg started the 1980 season with 31 straight wins. But Djokovic still trails the all-time record holder, John McEnroe, who started the 1984 season with 42 straight wins. Next up for Djokovic is this week's Italian Open in Rome, where all eyes will be on the Serbian star week to see if he can extend his record-breaking win streak.