Angela Smith among seven Labour MPs to resign

For JUS News 

Angela Smith, MP for Penistone and Stocksbridge, is one of seven Labour politicians to resign from the party this morning.

The group of MPs stood down in a protest over “the future of British politics” in order to form the “Independent Group” amid their party’s handling over Brexit, National Security and Anti-Semitism.

Ms Smith, who has been in office since 2010, said in a statement: “I don’t want to be patronised by left wing intellectuals who think being poor and working class constitutes a state of grace.”

Speaking later to BBC Politics Live, she said: “We feel that morally and politically to break free of a party that no longer represents what we stand for.

“The culture of the Labour Party is vicious, it is bullying, it is unpleasant.”

She added: “Not only has Jeremy Corbyn got hold of the machinery to the party, he has changed the locks, we no longer have the keys.”

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said he is “disappointed” with their decision. He said: “I am disappointed that these MPs have felt unable to continue.”

Ms Smith has represented the seat since 2010, and was MP for Sheffield Hillsborough from 2005 to 2010. In November 2018, her Constituency Labour Party passed a motion of no confidence in her grounds of her lack of support for the party leadership.

She said in the statement: “Our politics, in other words, is broken, incapable of inspiring confidence in the future.”

She added: “The level of alienation from the political process on the part of the people is at a record high, with the chaos and conflict characterising Brexit encapsulating perfectly the sense of deadlock and hopelessness which pervades our political culture.”

Liverpool Wavertree MP Luciana Berger, who also resigned, led the group  in making a statement.

She said: “This morning, we have all now resigned from the Labour Party. This has been a very difficult, painful, but necessary decision.

“From today, we will all sit in Parliament as a new independent group of MPs. From my part, I have become embarrassed and ashamed to remain in the Labour Party.”

More to follow…

Stop comparing Jadon Sancho and Phil Foden, they are both the future of England

For 5WFootball

Video Assistant Referee. Messi and Ronaldo. Who will win the title race? Three debates that are unavoidable on a daily basis that, if you’re like me, will make your ears (or eyes, in the age of social media) metaphorically bleed. Three torturously annoying debates that have no real answer, but are still discussed on the daily. Another argument that seemingly pops up in conversation nearly as frequent as Brexit does is whether or not young Englishmen making the move to the German Bundesliga – or other foreign top leagues for that matter – is better than sitting on the bench back here.

The best example of this is Jadon Sancho, who was the trend of conversation around the country this week due to his return to Wembley in a Borussia Dortmund shirt. The teenager made the audacious and trendsetting move to Germany in the summer 2017 after failing to see a route to the Manchester City first team and ever since, he has been the example for many pub arguments, as midweek debaters look to backup their point that every English youngster should follow suit.

Yes, he is doing brilliant at Dortmund, who are leading the way in Germany, and Phil Foden may not be pulling up trees for Manchester City, but he is doing it his way, and that is fine too. Like VAR, there is no definite answer over what path is best: stop comparing the two. One size does not fit all, and while Sancho is clearly ahead of Foden (and the likes of Hudson-Odoi etc.) at the moment, it does not mean that all youngsters should quit the club they have grown up with, in search of regular football.

If the rows over VAR and the like weren’t enough of an eyesore for you, the pathetic, shameless clickbait journalism of many clickbait organisations this morning is enough to ruin a weekend.

While it was only Newport County, Phil Foden stood out in a midfield populated with a World Cup winner David Silva, and created more than the likes of Leroy Sané and Riyad Mahrez. Therefore, the ‘it is only Newport’ counter-argument for this will not suffice. Foden possesses a turn of space to leave any defender in their wake, and the ball stuck to him with elasticity on a pitch unfit for a Sunday League game.

This was not the first time Foden has stood out in the FA Cup this season, with the youngster excelling against Rotherham in January.

While Rabbi Matondo became the latest to leave City for Germany in the transfer window just gone, Phil Foden is patient in waiting for his chances, but they are coming. Admittedly, his chances are coming less frequently than others, but the experience of being coached by Pep Guardiola must count for something here.

Jadon Sancho, on the other hand, is thriving at German league leaders Dortmund, with manager Lucien Favre happy to build a team around Sancho as one of the focal points of the attack. Would he walk straight back into Manchester City’s team? No. Sterling and Sané are still ahead of Sancho at this current moment, just like De Bruyne and Silva (either of them) are ahead of Foden.

He may find earlier success than Foden does, but does that mean Sancho will have the better career overall? There is no definite answer to this, so stop comparing them.

The Bundesliga route is audacious, and I admire it all the same, but it doesn’t mean that staying at England means that the player will not ‘make it’. If Foden doesn’t play a single minute for four years, he will still be younger than the likes of many of City’s first-choice eleven including Sterling, Bernardo Silva, etc. If he doesn’t play a minute for four years, obviously then he will move, but in the hypothetical situation, getting regular game time in this star-studded City side will do for 18 months more yet.

By the time Foden is 21, David Silva will have retired or at least moved on from City, while Ilkay Gundogan will likely be of an age where he may leave. Therefore, the path to the first team is clear. He may not be a guaranteed starter, but with City competing on four fronts, that is irrelevant.

Just like the Messi and Ronaldo debate, stop comparing the two and just realise that we are witnessing two era-defining talents. Even though you may have your clear favourite, if you cannot appreciate the greatness of both of them, this sport is not for you. The same argument stands for Foden and Sancho: yes, Sancho may be better, and he may have made the right choice in joining Dortmund, but that does not mean Foden will not ‘make it’ at City. These are two of England’s best youngsters for well over a decade, so we should stop comparing them and get behind them both, as England look to end their half-century of hurt.

In a decade, England may finally win the World Cup again, with a squad full of Bundesliga-bred talent. If that is the case, fair enough. For now though, stop comparing the two different routes to first team action. Just watch Phil Foden for one game, you will see he is more than ready to step up into Manchester City’s team and excel for years to come.

Alexander Hleb, BATE Borisov’s Belarusian bustling creator

“Arsenal was the best time in my career. I was absolutely, 100% happy. I had an unbelievable coach, fantastic friends and amazing team-mates. It was a dream come true”.

Speaking to FourFourTwo magazine in 2017, Alexander Hleb recalled his time at the North London club as the best of his lengthy career that has taken him from Belarus to London and back again, via Birmingham, Barcelona, Stuttgart, Samara and Ankara.

Now in his fifth spell at BATE Borisov of the industrial city of Barysaw in Belarus, the 37-year-old has had a career like few others, and can probably stake a huge claim to the tag of the greatest footballer from Belarus, of all time.

As the winger prepares to face his old club Arsenal in the Europa League round of 32, we take a look back on Hleb’s career, and reach a decision on how highly he will be remembered in the game…

If any signing could sum up Arsène Wenger in a microcosm, it would be Alexander Hleb. Relatively unknown in England, young, technically exceptional, a tidy sense of tactical awareness, a pathological preference for a pass rather than a shot. Like so many before him and many after him, Hleb arrived at Arsenal without a huge reputation, and not looking like the sort of player who could slot straight into the first team.

Yet, that is exactly what he did. He arrived from Stuttgart in 2005 and many questioned Wenger’s decision to recruit the scrawny and languid winger. His legs looked more like sticks than the sort to conduct the role of a master craftsman in Arsène Wenger’s free-flowing football factory. The old dismissal of a player not looking fit to cut it in the tough brutality of the Premier League was recycled, but Hleb disproved any theories.

He slotted into the team with ease on the right wing of a 4-4-2, a rather different role to that of the modern Premier League winger. The ball stuck to his feet like a magnet, he had the ability to always drive the Gunners forward, but he also had the eye for an acute pass that few wingers do.

Although 2005/06 was a pleasing season, with Hleb starting in Arsenal’s Champions League final loss, it was the following season he would really prove himself as a star of ‘Wengerball’.

Arsene Wenger

Different to other wingers in the league, Hleb was a dictator who used his tactical knowledge to expose space for the likes of Robin Van Persie, Emmanuel Adebayor and Cesc Fabregas – all of whom found this space with a clinical nature. Hleb also had a wizardry locker dribbling and passing abilities that simply tortured defences.

Just as he was becoming the heartbeat of Wenger’s side in the post-Henry and Vieira era, Hleb made a decision that he still regrets to this day – he moved to Barcelona. In Catalonia, the Belarusian struggled for regular game time, with injuries and form of teammates keeping him on the sidelines.

Comparable in nature to many others who have moved to Barcelona in search of the ultimate high life, it just did not work out. While he was sat watching from his sofa in Barcelona – recovering from injuries – Pep Guardiola found a winning formula with a devastating front line including the likes of Lionel Messi, Thierry Henry, Samuel Eto’o and Pedro.

You couldn’t really blame him for wanting the move: Barcelona was his dream club from a young age, where he used to often have a free house due to his hardworking parents – his mother was a builder and his father drove petrol tankers.

After Barcelona, Hleb tried to reestablish his career with multiple loan moves. The first of which was back to the club he made his name and caught the eyes of Wenger, Stuttgart. At 29, Hleb joined Birmingham City. Alex McLeish’s style was far from the fast paced football of Wenger and Guardiola, where the emphasis was simply to kick it as far as you can.

Hleb recalled to RIA Nostovi: “The day before a game he would come onto the pitch and show us what to do: ‘You stand here, the goalkeeper will give you the ball here, kick it as far as you can and don’t pass to anyone nearby. And we all run.”

Image result for hleb birmingham

After leaving Barcelona with just 36 appearances to his name, Hleb became a journeyman of Eastern Europe, but finally settled at his beloved BATE Borisov, where he seems happy. He told the press after BATE’s 3-1 win over Bayern Munich in the Champions League that he thought a big European club may try and sign him, but it never materialised. He has won multiple league titles in Belarus, but he will know deep down his career should have been so much more.

One can only wonder how Hleb’s career may have shaped up if he had stayed with Arsène Wenger at Arsenal. It will be an emotional experience for Hleb when he returns to the Emirates, he will be surely greeted with vast warmth from all corners of the ground. Sadly, however, Alexander Hleb’s career has to be filed away in the category of ‘what could have been?’

Four battles, one war: remembering the four Clásico’s in 18 days of 2011

Take out your diary and grab a pen, then jot down this note: Barcelona versus Real Madrid, the great eternal rivalry of Spain, the most watched derby in football, three times in the next 25 days. 6th February at the Camp Nou in the Copa del Rey, the return leg on the 27th at the Bernabéu, a blockbuster league tie on 2nd March at the Bernabéu. Good watching for the neutral, right? Certainly so, but nothing on 2011. Pep v José, Barça v Madrid, four times in 18 days…

It was the height of modern footballs answer to Muhammad Ali v Joe Frazier, the ‘fight of the century’ between Pep Guardiola and his antithesis José Mourinho. There were no rhyming phrases like ‘Thrilla in Manila’ for the finale, but it was still a heavyweight scrap between the two biggest clubs in world football: the greatest club side in the history of the game to many, against the negative, aggressive, yet hugely effective Real Madrid side of the man who once sat in the Camp Nou dugout as translator and de-facto assistant to Bobby Robson. 

Mr Robson was the unfortunate man to have the first job in the post-Cruyff era, he had the fans on his back from day one, but this man – Pep Guardiola, ex-Barca player icon – was the Blaugrana hero who led Barcelona back into the thinking of Total Football. José Mourinho, Robson’s former right hand man, was the man tasked with ending Barcelona’s monopoly over La Liga (and the world) – after all, he was the man who got the better of Guardiola in the Champions League with his Inter Milan side.

This catalogue of games was enough for a Hollywood movie, four games with a billing worthy of Oscar nomination. It was sports psychology at its highest. Matchday 3 and 4 in the Champions League group stage is often dubbed the chance for tacticians to shine (as teams play each other back to back, two weeks apart), this was a mixture of how to balance tactical know-how, mental fatigue, physical detriment, all put together with the biggest managerial rivalry for decades. 

Revolutionary ex-AC Milan boss Ariggo Sacchi described the duo as ‘two Pablo Picasso’s in one period’. That, like a lot of things Sacchi has said or done in the game, was spot on.

The rivalry started over a decade prior, or at least the friendship that led to the feud did. Barcelona had just won the Cup Winners’ Cup final in Rotterdam against PSG, against the declining French side Paris Saint Germain. As players often do when they win a big game in sport, Guardiola – sporting a thin haircut and short shorts with the number 4 – fell to the ground in celebrating. It was the first season without the great Johan Cruyff at the helm, so this trophy felt like a big one for Barça. As Guardiola got to his feet, he clocked a member of the club’s staff, who he ran to with inviting open arms. That man, of course, was Mr José Mourinho.

They were not best of friends, but they were good friends, which Pep later reminded José of in  a press conference: “I only want to remind him that we were together for four years. He knows me and I know him. I keep that in my mind.”

Over the coming years, José’s character blossomed into what we know him as today. They met on opposing benches for the first time in 2009, when they played out a 0-0 in Italy, before Barcelona won 2-0 at the Camp Nou. These two matches were only in the group stages, and Mourinho’s demeanour perhaps foreshadowed what was to come. Mourinho had worked out Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona, and when they met in the semi-finals later that season, he put that plan into action. Jose Mourinho’s Inter Milan defeated Barcelona over two legs. The great Barcelona side, with Messi, Xavi, Iniesta – the list goes on – were humbled.

Over in Spain, the Madrid hierarchy were standing up and taking notice of Mourinho, the man who had now conquered Europe with two teams – Inter and Porto – as well as his record breaking Chelsea side. Not long after, Florentino Perez sanctioned the deal – Mourinho was the man they tasked to end the Barcelona rule under Guardiola, and this set in motion a few seasons of politics, power, scrutiny, and in short, football entertainment of the highest order, for the neutral anyway.

The first Clásico between the two ended in humiliation for Mourinho, as Barcelona triumphed with a 5-0 victory thanks to a remarkable display from Lionel Messi, who by now was widely considered the worlds greatest player. The scoreline did not flatter Barcelona, who were excellent, but it didn’t by any means dictate that the four Clásico’s were to be one sided…

1. 16 April 2011, La Liga, Santiago Bernabéu, Madrid

Real Madrid's Pepe, left, gestures at Barcelona goalscorer Lionel Messi during Saturday's tense Clasico clash at the Bernabeu.

By this point, Guardiola had stopped going the gym. He used to spend up to two hours a day working out, a keen believer of the ‘healthy body, healthy mind’ theory.

The first showdown was tame, almost as if the teams were nervous – which was certainly the case. Like a sparring match, or the first 20 minutes of a big match anywhere in the world, both teams were content with a draw. For Barça, the draw meant that the title was all but sealed. For Madrid… well, they were just happy to not lose.

The only real talking point that was memorable was the tight marking of Lionel Messi by the hardman Pepe. The Argentinian wizard rarely gets agitated, but when he does, you know. This was one of those occasions, with some of his team mates having to calm him down from frustration. It wasn’t the first and certainly wasn’t the last time that Messi was almost unfairly marked out of the game with aggression and strength, but Messi got particularly wound up this time.

Messi calmed down despite Pepe being a protagonist in the tunnel trying to spark fights, and a bigger task was just four days away: the Copa del Rey final in Valencia…

2. 20 April 2011, Copa del Rey final, Mestalla, Valencia

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Four weeks is a short time to prepare to play the same team again, never mind four days. Yet just four days after the mundane one all draw in Madrid, José Mourinho’s men had a huge advantage, both psychologically and tactically (unless you class those as interlinking).

Although it took an extra time strike from Cristiano Ronaldo to win the game and trophy, Real Madrid were deserved winners, and Mourinho had got one over on his arch enemy.

The final may best be remembered for what happened off the pitch, with two contrasting events. The first was in the direct aftermath when Lionel Messi stormed into the dressing room and sat on the floor crying, uncontrollably. He is a born winner, and the thought of losing escapes Messi. On the other hand, Sergio Ramos got so caught up in the celebrations that he dropped the trophy off an open top bus parade.

Who did this affect more psychologically? The Barcelona team who spent the whole journey home in pretty much silence on the coach? Or was it Madrid, who celebrated not just the win, but the fact they knew, or thought, they had the upper hand going into the Champions League ties in the coming week.

The problem went beyond Pep’s mental endurance, writes Guillem Balague in his book ‘Pep Guardiola: Another Way of Winning’. “The constant friction made it difficult to take the right decisions, his juggling of so many roles – figurehead, coach, beacon of the club’s values – was becoming too much to bear”, continued Ballague.

Reportedly, one of Pep’s closest friends heard him threatening to leave Barcelona due to this mental fatigue. For him, every trophy – the entire campaign – was being contested against the eternal rival in the period of eighteen days. It is sports psychology at the highest order.

Mourinho had got to him, Guardiola was rattled, you could say. He was feeling the pressures of management like never before, and despite the fact his team was widely tipped the best in the world, he wasn’t enjoying a minute of it. He had to somehow sell each Clásico different. He couldn’t brief the team the same four times, nor he couldn’t praise them too highly for any good things as they may slack. Guardiola had to balance more than he felt he could. He needed some sort of uplift psychologically.

3. 27 April 2011, Champions League semi-final first leg, Santiago Bernabéu, Madrid

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That psychological lift came from the most… likely source. Guardiola often used weird techniques to lift his team ahead of big games. In one of his Champions League finals, he showed them a highlight video of their highlights to get them in the mood. In another, he simply said ‘Do it for Abi’, referring to Eric Abidal, who had recovered from cancer to make the final. This time, it was a speech in a press conference aimed in response to a personal attack from Mr Mourinho, who accused Guardiola of unfair play for moaning about refereeing decisions.

Despite being advised not to refer to Mourinho, Guardiola – a usually calm man – stormed into the press conference and delivered a speech aimed at his rival. Pep glanced around the room with a half smile, almost sinister like in nature, making sure he had the attention of the gathered journalists, before delivering 2 minutes 27 seconds of anger and aggression:

“Because Mr Mourinho permitted himself the luxury of calling me Pep, I will call him Jose. Tomorrow at 8.45 we are going to face on the pitch. He has already won the battle off the pitch. He has been winning all season. If he wants his own personal Champions League I’ll let him have his own off-field trophy. I hope he takes it home and enjoys it as much as the other trophies. He can say or do whatever he wants. In this room Mourinho is the fucking chief, the fucking boss.”

The Champions League two legged semi final had just started. Guardiola returned back to the dressing room to a standing applause from the team, led by the midfield diamond Xavi Hernandez.

Mourinho’s off the pitch strategy had not worked, it had done the opposite – motivated his opponents.

On the pitch, Barcelona were by far the better team, and two late Lionel Messi goals secured a 0-2 victory for Guardiola’s team. Mourinho continued, though. The turning point in the match was the sending off for Madrid’s key defender – Pepe. The Portuguese international was the one tasked with marking Messi out of the game, which he did well for sixty minutes, before his red card. Following this, Mourinho remarked that Barcelona had the referees on their side and that Guardiola should be ashamed, saying that he would not want to win the Champions League that way. Via saying Guardiola was going to win the Champions League, Mourinho was playing his old trick of telling the press he thinks his side are out of the competition.

Guardiola disagreed, knowing there was still work to be done: “A team that has won nine European Cups can never be written off”, he said.

4. 3 May 2011, Champions League semi-final second leg, Camp Nou, Barcelona

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The fourth and final Clásico wasn’t as eventful as the others, the calm after the storm like an action movie with a happy ending, for Barcelona at least. The game finished one goal apiece and Barcelona qualified for the Champions League final.

Pep Guardiola, and his players, were shattered, as were the fans I imagine. Four Clásico’s in 18 days is ludicrous and a huge test of mentality. Barcelona came out victorious, and went on to win the Champions League that season with a victory over the great Manchester United, led by Sir Alec Ferguson, a hero of Pep’s when he was first getting into management.

The biggest test of sports psychology that either manager will face, and one that has shaped their careers. With three in 25 days now, as well as Guardiola’s City side going for a gruelling four trophies, these experiences may come in handy.

The inspiring and beautiful story of Petra Kvitova’s comeback from knife attack

“The injury is severe and I will need to see specialists, but if you know anything about me I am strong and I will fight this”. 

Petra Kvitova had a strong mentality and character, that was known for years, demonstrated by her ability to overcome the odds and fight against players with tenfold more experience than her, but even the most optimistic tennis fan would have thought Kvitova’s injury was the end. 

In December 2016, the two-time Wimbledon champion was hospitalised and in surgery for several hours after being attacked by a knife-wielding intruder into her home in Prostejov, Czech Republic. 

Graphic images surfaced this week showing the extent of said injury. In short, Kvitova should not have returned. At the time of the injury her first thought was to ask whether she’d compete in Wimbledon ever again. The chances were extremely slim, she was given a 10% chance of ever playing professional tennis again. 

After four hours of surgery to repair the tendons, two nerves and injuries sustained to all five fingers in her left hand, she started her recovery, with optimism aplenty. 

Consider the grip of Kvitova: the most unseen element of her ever growing skill set – her game flows from control and precision. It would be similar to slicing the hand of a master craftsman in an industrial factory that makes everything by hand. 

The problem is in real life, there is no machinery alternative. There was no shortcut to recovery or success for Kvitova, she just had to power through and like the slogan of her sponsor suggests: Just Do It. 

If it wasn’t for the innate strength she developed on the court prior to the injury, she may have not even survived, for it were the power of self-defence that saw Kvitova fight back, and lacerate her hand, rather than any other part of the body getting damaged. 

Just like when she first burst upon the scene as a youngster, Kvitova seemed to pop up out of nowhere again. 

She emerged from nowhere in 2010 when she became the 2010 WTA Newcomer of the Year, before winning the 2011 Wimbledon Championships upsetting Maria Sharapova, while her Czech-born idol and icon, Martina Navratilova, watched on in applause in the stands.

Similar to Monica Seles, who showed fighting spirit to comeback from an on-court stabbing with a nine inch knife in 1993, Kvitova emerged again for a ‘second career’. 

For Seles, sadly her pre-injury form was never reproduced, despite the fact she did win the Australian Open on her comeback to the court. 

Kvitova looked to follow in the same footpath upon returning, with her 2017 being poor, seeing her drop to 29th in the world rankings. 

Yet her form was not dead and buried, with Kvitova making a true comeback in 2018, becoming the best player outside of the Slams, climbing to 7th in the world. 

Who knows what 2019 may hold for Kvitova, with it starting on a high. She may have been overwhelmed by the amazing Naomi Osaka in the Australian Open final, but thank God she has returned to the top. 

She has etched her name in the history of tennis, with a truly remarkable and inspiring story, the sort that makes many fall in love with sport. 

From the first question upon injury being ‘Will I play Wimbledon again?’ to surely entering Wimbledon as one of the favourites, Petra Kvitova’s story is beautiful, and from nearly closing the book on her career prematurely, she certainly has a few chapters to offer yet. 

Majestic Djokovic re-opens GOAT debate following Australian Open triumph

A few decades in the distant future, BBC will be broadcasting the Wimbledon finals but due to an injury leading to retirement, they have half an hour of air time to fill. These are the moments us at home love – nothing is happening, but we cannot turn off the television, we want to see how the pundits can fill their time. Usually, the punditry team turn to some sort of debate or highlights reel of a past tournament. That debate may be: Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal or Novak Djokovic – who was the greatest?

A youthful child, enjoying his first experiences of watching tennis, will turn to his parents and ask who this trio were. At this moment, the eyes light up and the parent will begin to explain the joyful talents of each of the trio. A bit similar to now when you may ask about a Diego Maradona or Pelé of yesteryear.

Like debates in other sports, this one was ruled down to two with Nadal and Federer seemingly fight it out for the tagline ‘GOAT’ – greatest of all time.

Despite this, Novak Djokovic’s most recent triumph has reopened the argument to a three-way triple threat contest.

The Serbian’s 15th Grand Slam triumph in Australia saw him move to within two major titles of Nadal. Djokovic ruthlessly dispatched of the Spaniard 6-3 6-2 6-2 on Sunday morning.

He now heads to Roland Garros targeting a fourth straight Grand Slam title, which would give Djokovic a second Non-Calendar Year Grand Slam, having last held all titles in 2015/2016.

There is no doubt that right now, Djokovic is the best player in the world, and he is showing no signs of slowing down any time soon. He hinted on Sunday night that thoughts of retirement can be put on hold for a few years yet.

What should have been the match of the tournament, or even of the year – despite young – failed to live up to expectations. It looked like the battle of two mighty heavyweights, both fit and fresh in form, but turned into the equivalent of a fight between a heavyweight and an injured featherweight.

Their contests have spread over a 13-year-period, but this match at the Rod Laver Arena was the most dominant and one-sided of them all.

Former champion Mats Wilander described the performance as “absolute perfection”, with Pat Cash using the phrase “absolutely mind-blowing tennis”.

They were right.

Just one year ago, Djokovic’s career was in doubt, with elbow surgery leading to problems on and off the court.

Now, the question turns to whether Djokovic (15-time champion) can finish his career with more Grand Slam titles than Rafael Nadal (17-time champion) and Roger Federer (20-time champion).

Exactly 50 years ago, Rod Laver became the first and only man in the Open Era to sweep all four Opens, and now Djokovic, has his eyes on that feat, although it is a huge ask.

Whatever happens this year, the debate over who is better will remain. My take is similar to a popular spin on Messi-Ronaldo: stop debating who is better, just sit back and enjoy all three while we still can. This is a golden era of tennis.