New kids on the block knock champs off pedestals

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RORY McIlroy, Tiger Woods. Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal.

Not so very long ago - and last Friday in the second instance - we’d have been putting those pairs the other way round.

But how quickly sport moves on. How once seemingly untoppable kings are suddenly knocked off that throne.

No one dare quite write off Woods yet but the suggestions are that a certain type of writing is on the wall.

In typical fashion, young McIlroy is being branded as the new Woods (watch out for those fire hydrants Rory!). Some way to go, of course, indeed quite a long way.

We’re still waiting for Woods to become the new Jack Nicklaus. If you judge ‘em on majors won that is.

With his troublesome injury problems, it’s suggested Woods may never be the same force again. Suddenly McIlroy is everybody’s darling after the stunning US Open triumph.

When the Open starts at Sandwich next week, every spotlight in town will be beamed in McIlroy’s direction. His will be the round everyone wants to see. His every shot scrutinised closer than ever. For next week at the very least, he’s the next Tiger Woods.

Like Woods, Roger Federer bestrode his sport. King of Wimbledon and everywhere else.

Then along comes Nadal and, if we’re talking Wimbledon here, he topples the king and looks invincible.

But in just a matter of months, up comes Djokovic not only to challenge these two but also overtake them. It was quite fascinating in how he made Nadal struggle in a way we really haven’t seen. Nadal, who overpowers and bludgeons good players, has never looked less in control than he did last Sunday.

These are new kids on the block and they’re not going away. Great for their sport.

Djokovic’s ‘eating’ of a bit of Centre Court grass at the end prompted a splendid cartoon from the excellent Matt in the Daily Telegraph - a sheep holding a tennis racket and saying to another sheep: “I’ve been eating grass all my life so thought I’d give this a go.”

It will have reminded football followers in this city, and particularly Wednesdayites, of the famous cartoon by the excellent Ralph Whitworth of this parish who presented his superb work in the old Sheffield Morning Telegraph and later The Star.

In the 1970s, Wednesday once sent the players to camp out overnight, a sort of ‘bonding’ exercise which created much publicity.

Whitworth’s cartoon - a copy was framed and hung in the Hillsborough boardroom - had one sheep saying to another: “I’ve been roughing it on these moors for years and I’m still no good at football.”