Wednesday, 14 September 2011


I know how some are serenading this as one of the matches of the year. I didn’t quite see it that way.


Sure, there was some eye-wateringly, magnificent tennis, but if we’re honest, most of that came in set three. Yes, there were some 12-15 minute games (most of which were down to Rafa struggling to hold serve), but outside of that I only saw Novak bossing Rafa around from the back of the court – the only shock was in how easy he made it look.

That doesn’t maketh for a greateth match – however impossibly high Novak’s level was.

For large parts of the match Rafa simply looked utterly defenceless (and “offenceless”) out there;  Novak was raining down blows on him from every angle. At will.

I’ve not seen him brutalised that way since Sod worked him over at RG back in 2009.


To be honest, I’m not putting much stock in the “Nadal has a Djokovic problem” theory right now because, quite frankly, everyone has that same problem – only the most obtuse Rafanatic will pretend he’s not struggling but it’s worth remembering Rafa’s only losing finals to Novak because he’s making those finals in the first place. Let’s wait a little and see how this story unfurls.

"In the previous years, I hadn't changed my game in any big way and my strokes were still the same and was hitting the shots I wanted to hit.

"But I had difficulties approaching semi-finals and finals. I would wait for players to make mistakes. I didn't have the positive attitude. That has changed now - the 2010 US Open [four-set defeat by Nadal] was the turning point.

"I guess it just clicked in my head. It's just that I'm hitting the shots that I maybe wasn't hitting in the last two, three years now. I'm going for it."
-- Novak Djokovic, BBC Tennis.

Quite apart from all the racquet changes, coaching changes, oxygen pod mystique and gluten free paraphernalia, Novak’s simply back to playing aggressive tennis again and with his ability, that tends to win you shedloads of tennis matches – in this case at the highest of levels.  It’s the same unabashed, relentless (if matured) tennis that won him his first Slam.

And when you do that against Nadal on a hard court, he can be made to look very ordinary – and not just by the very best either.

(Pics: Getty)

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