In the 80's there was a tennis professional from Czechoslovakia who went by the name of 'The Big Cat' or Miloslav Mecir, whichever you preferred. Mecir was a genius and owned possibly one of the most remarkable returns of serve the game has ever seen. For proof of that statement you only have to watch the first two sets of the Wimbledon semi final between Edberg and the tall Czech in '88 to see that he simply knew how to get a serve back with interest.
Mecir was also known as 'The Swede Killer' because of his ability to basically 'own Sweden'. His win/ loss ratio over the Swedish players was second to none and for him to do it predominantly on clay was even more remarkable. As we all know the Swedes will go down in history as one of the most successful nations on clay tennis courts.
Miloslav Mecir somehow found a way to beat the Swedes at their own game which was to play their game until he basically got bored with it then he would up the pace almost at will and more often than not he would confuse the opposition with his tactics. By the time the 1986 US Open came around Mecir owned a 17-3 win / loss record over the Swedes over a two year time frame and he confirmed his status in that particular Open once again by beating the number 2 seed Mats Wilander of Sweden in the round of 16.
So to the current game of World tennis and it's not very often that you see any real domination from one particular country towards another but there is however one gentleman who stands out a little further than the rest in the art of the two on two format. Take Serbia's double's genius Nenad Zimonjic and the way in which he handles the greatest ever doubles combination of the Bryan Brothers from the US.
In 2009 alone Zimonjic won nine doubles titles with Daniel Nestor and in five of those finals they beat the Bryan brothers. In the Cincinatti final they won 15-13 in the third set super tie breaker. Whilst I do not have the match details in front of me I am certain they saved at least one match point, possibly several. In the Davis Cup Quarter final of 2013 against the US Zimonjic was paired with Ilija Bozoljac who at the time was ranked World number 900 plus in singles and 102 in doubles.
This match will certainly go down in history as a win for the heart and not necessarily the talent as Serbia won this match against the Bryans 15-13 in the fifth set, a marathon match where Zimonjic somehow took his partner's level from that of a Challenger level player to that of a World beater. Such is the talent of Nenad.
In the same month in Monte Carlo in 2013 Zimonjic paired with Julien Benneteau of France and in the final against the Bryans' they saved an incredible seven match points before taking the match 14-12 in the final set super tie breaker. How is it possible to work your way through that many match points and simply not miss ? I believe it's a gift of not just the technical ability of a player but more so of the mind. It's an ability to not fear losing and that is a rarity.
So to the current Indian Wells Championships and this time Zimonjic paired up with another Frenchman in Edouard Roger-Vasselin who won the French Open Mens Doubles of 2014 with Benneteau. In the quarter finals they played the Bryan brothers once again and rather incredibly the Bryans' lead the third set super tie breaker at one stage 9-2.
From that stage you would have to be questioning whether there was any light at the end of the tunnel yet somehow Zimonjic and his French partner found a way to level at 9-9, save another match point and win the breaker and the match 14-12. That's a total of 15 match points that the Bryans' held over Zimonjic and his French partners' in two tournaments yet they could not convert one of them.
Whilst Mecir dominated the Swedes from the start of most of their matches Nenad Zimonjic seems to have a remarkable ability to fight his way out of impossible situations against the most successful doubles combination of all time. The Bryans eventually reached the magical number of 100 tournament titles but surely would have got there a lot quicker without the magician from Serbia who weaved most of his magic throughout his career when he seemed to be down and out against Bob and Mike.
Some Tennis Professionals have higher profiles and some have earned a lot more money over their careers yet the man from Serbia who seems to shadow his countryman who happens to be the World's best singles player will surely be talked about one day for his exploits.
That Davis Cup Doubles match in 2010 will surely go down as one of the best wins in Davis Cup history as it was pivotal at the time with both teams sharing the opening two singles matches. Bozoljac's ranking alone defied logic as someone who could even bother a team of the Bryan's ability, but he was playing with Nenad, that was the difference....
Nenad Zimonjic is a tennis professional who never knows when he is beaten and he may just own the record for most match points saved in the World of Mens Doubles. Genius............