Australian Open champion and 2007 Wimbledon semifinalist Novak Djokovic has been unceremoniously dismissed from this year's Championships by enigmatic talent and Outsports-favorite Marat Safin in the second round, 6-4, 7-6 (3), 6-2.
Of course, the hunky Safin is a two-time Grand Slam winner with the game - if not the temperament - to rival any top player. The match was always going to be tough for Djokovic, who many considered a contender for the title. That Safin was able to win in three relatively easy sets speaks to how well the Russian was playing.
Marat has never liked playing on grass. Safin has advanced to the quarterfinals at Wimbledon only once in eight appearances. Yet his power game should be brutal on the slick grass and he's overdue for a good tournament. With his ranking currently at number 75, he's had the misfortune of running into top players early in big events. Now that he's taken Djokovic out, the opportunity for a deep run presents itself to a man who is as likely to lose his next match to Italian Andreas Seppi as his is to advance to the semifinals and play an epic against Federer.
It's never smart to bet on Safin, but with the Russian's abundance of talent, charm and good looks, it is practically impossible not to get your hopes up. Maybe this time ...