His win over Roddick was solid. His coup over Nadal was excellent. His triumph over Federer was unheard of. There’s a new champ in town and he has taken the place by storm.
Novak Djokovic has done the unthinkable in beating Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer in consecutive matches and has now officially become an elite member of the game. Sorry Andy, your Top 3 days are numbered.
When Djokovic announced at the start of the season he wanted to break the Top 10 this year and ultimately own the number one position, many jumped on the Serb and called him arrogant. To become a great sportsman though, one has to belief in their abilities, and there’s no doubt that the young man from Belgrade trusts in his tennis.
Djokovic ran out to a 3-0 lead in the first set against Federer, mostly because the Swiss king was shanking every forehand he hit. Within minutes, order was restored and the match was tied at 3-all. Did the young challenger fold after quickly losing his lead? No. Djokovic remained calm and focused until he blew a 40-0 lead at 5-all to fall down a break. Losing such a crucial game would certainly justify breaking a racket. But Djokovic, not known for keeping a poker face throughout a match, stayed relaxed and kept concentrating on the job at hand.
Perhaps this change of attitude made Federer a little nervous himself. Out of the blue, Federer shockingly lost a 40-0 lead serving to close out the set. Djokovic had been playing a little below par and not moving as well as he could, nor was he playing with enough aggressiveness to take down his opponent, but when the Djoker sniffed his chance after Federer overhit a forehand and dumped a backhand in the net on his first two set points, the Serb seemed to come alive. After a hard-fought game with numerous set and break points, it was Djokovic who screamed a forehand winner down the line to get back his opponent’s serve and send the set into a tiebreak.
Djokovic did not falter on the big occassion as it was Federer who failed to step up and convincingly went down 7-2 in the breaker.
In the second set, Djokovic could not keep up his high level of play from the end of the first set. Serving at 1-2, he faced 0-40, but thanks to three unforced errors from Federer, the Djoker managed to hold for 2-all.
It would be the last game Djokovic would win that set, as his unforced error count was going up, especially on the forehand side.
After losing four consecutive games to drop the set 6-2, Djokovic took a toilet break to refocus on what was coming. The Serb did a good job resetting himself, as he immediately broke serve in the first game ofthe third set. Federer overhit a backhand down the line, going for the winner at 15-40.
Djokovic had no problems consoling the break, impressively following up with three consecutive love service games. With his biggest career win in sight, there was a little tightness at 4-3. Federer had gotten to 15-30 on Djoko’s serve after hitting a forehand winner that clipped the net cord (and could have gone wide had it not touched it) and a well-placed backhand that forced Djokovic into an error. At this crucial point, Djokovic hit a powerful serve out wide which Federer could only block back half-high into mid court. Djokovic unleashed his forehand which should have been a winner, but ended up in the net instead. Federer pounced on his first break opportunity with an aggressive forehand return off a second serve that proved too much for Djokovic. The game was square at 4-all.
Both men easily held serve for a deciding tiebreak. Interestingly, Djokovic dropped only one point on serve the whole set, outside the game he was broken. He continued this streak into the tiebreak, where Federer again failed to score a point off the Djoker’s serve.
Forehand errors ultimately cost the No.1 the match. Federer hit two forehands long and shanked one off his frame. Djokovic kept the ball in play in the tiebreak without seizing to be aggressive when he could. He was consistent enough in the rallies not to miss a single shot. This reflected most of the match, but try coming up with the goods when you’re a 20-year-old facing one of the best players who ever played the game in the final of a major tournament.
Like I wrote in my earlier piece on the Djoker this week, I can’t believe how this guy has gone from being mentally unstable on the big points to becoming as cool as he has over just a few months time. This kid is truely amazing, and so is the state of men’s tennis right now. Bring on Cincinnati.
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