Novak Djokovic: It Was A Great Start, But Rafa Was Better In the Crucial Moments, Life Will Go On
by Tom Gainey | June 8th, 2014, 2:44 pm
  • 56 Comments

For a third straight year Novak Djokovic’s French Open hopes were dashed by rival Rafael Nadal who ended his chances for a career Slam this year with a 36, 75, 62, 64 win the Serb.

Djokovic admitted afterward that he was in some distress late in the match – TV showed him visibly vomiting twice on the court – but credited Nadal with the strong play.

Djokovic had won four straight over Nadal since the US Open. But in Grand Slam play he falls to 3-9 against the Spaniard and 0-6 at Roland Garros.

After the match, here’s some of what Djokovic had to say.

Q. How it went after the first set? What was exactly going on in the match for you?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yeah, it was a great start; came back in the second. Could have gone to the tiebreak and was quite even. I lost that service game 6 5, and then the momentums went his side. I started, you know, playing quite bad, you know, and didn’t move as well. Struggled a little bit physically throughout that third set. Then in the fourth started to feel a little bit better, but then just crucial points he played better.

I wasn’t playing at the level that I wanted, especially in the second part of the match. You know, that’s sport. It’s how it is. These kind of big matches obviously take the best out of players. And of course it’s a huge challenge. I tried to do my best. My best wasn’t as the best against him in Rome a couple weeks ago. But, you know, it’s how it is. Congratulations to him. He was a better player in the crucial moments. Of course it’s disappointing for me, but life goes on. It’s not the first time or last time that I lost a match.

Q. Having to play Nadal in Roland Garros is something totally different than playing him elsewhere. Like does he have moral superiority here, or the court’s wide, as you had mentioned before? Does it make him totally very different than from other courts?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yes, that’s how it feels on the court. Obviously his records speak for themselves. He has won this tournament now nine times. It’s very impressive what he’s playing on this court. He has lost only once in his career on center court. It’s definitely not easy best of five to play against him in these conditions.

Q. Can you just describe your frustration level at the end of the match I guess with match point interruption also, and then just generally not able to break through? Seemed like you had more frustration visible normally than you might after…
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: It’s finals of Grand Slam. I mean, I have expectations. You want this win as much as your opponent across the net. That’s it. I’m emotional player, and the tennis court is an arena and I’m there to fight and I’m there to try to win, and, you know, show my emotions. Unfortunately, it didn’t work this time.

Q. Do you feel that you were not in the best physical condition today since two days ago you seemed to have some nose problems or something. Would you say that today Nadal won it because he was stronger physically in a way?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, I did have the period of the match, as I mentioned, end of the second and the whole third set I struggled a little bit. But as I said, it’s not impossible, but it’s very, very difficult to stay with Rafa in this court, you know, throughout the whole match on the highest level of performance. It’s normal that you have ups and downs. I was just hoping that in the fourth I would be able to come back. I started feeling, as I said, a little bit better, but I wasn’t managing to, you know, bring my A game when it was most needed in the end of the fourth.

Q. Regarding to emotions, do you feel the crowd plays some role since you always are really, really loved here in Paris? Do you feel the crowd gave you not as good as it always gives you the cheers?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: The crowd, I think support of the crowd was big for him, was big for me. I was trying to focus on my own fans, my own supporters, and of course it’s finals of a Grand Slam. When I play against Rafa, it’s always exciting match for us to play and for crowd to see, so they get also involved in the match.

In the end of the day, it’s very emotional. A lot of tension going on on the court. You can feel that. I cannot, you know, find excuses in the crowd. You know, I cannot blame anybody. It’s all part of the sport.

His on-court speech:


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Novak Djokovic: That Was Definitely One Of My Best Matches
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56 Comments for Novak Djokovic: It Was A Great Start, But Rafa Was Better In the Crucial Moments, Life Will Go On

calmdownplease Says:

Novak will win more than one FO.
Its a sure bet.


Humble Rafa Says:

Novak will win more than one FO.
Its a sure bet.

After my retirement.


calmdownplease Says:

After your retirement?
So we are talking 2016 then?
Actually, I’m thinking before that.
But we shall see, won’t we?


jane Says:

awww Nole; I am very sad for you but keep fighting.
hugs to Nole’s fans, duro, stu, sar, shital, wog boy, bojana, mat4, nina and everyone else i am forgetting. i miss you guys.
contador and daniel keep posting please; i have been loving reading you when i’ve gotten the chance to do so.
shout out to margot and the da too.
andrea, thanks for the kind comment on the other thread.


the DA Says:

Jane! So lovely to see you post again. You are sorely missed. Commiserations, I know your boy will do it – sometime in the nest 2 years. I feel sure of it. Don’t be s stranger.


van orten Says:

life and sports not always is fair. so to have nadal with 9 Roland garros is really tough to Digest. because he eats the whole cake and leaves nothing for the rest. someone has to stop him something . but it was my last rg thats for sure unless someone beats that guy


gonzalowski Says:

Greetings to Courbon, Jane and other Djoko fans!
You know he is a great sportman and champion. I must thank Nole and Rafa for the spectacle they always offer to us.


Wog boy Says:

@jane
I am proud to be Nole fan and to be in company of you and other Nole fans.
Great tennis player and fine young man who grew up in front of our very eyes.
Keep fighting Nole, no pain no gain.

Skeezer, if I am to chose one person from tennis-x to cover my back in a sticky situation, that would be you. You stick up for your man.


courbon Says:

@ Wog Boy; I can belive you posting!That was a long time! How are you doing?Everything OK Down Under?
Today, bit of a downer but proud of Novak fighting to the end…


courbon Says:

@ gonzalowski: Thanx. Well, your guys was just great today and there is no shame in loosing RG final to Nadal. Maybe next time more luck? (-:


Eric W. Says:

Nole needs more than luck to win RG. He needs a brain transplant. The way he played those key points at 2-3 in the fourth is typical of his mental weakness. As McEnroe said, he had no business losing that game, as he bunted the ball back to Nadal instead of hitting it to the open court. Djokovic should retire and spare his fans the agony of watching him choking away big matches. What’s the point of making it to the final if that’s all you bring to the battle?


Steve 27 Says:

Well, Mc Enroe choked in 1984 against Lendl, so, he is the specialist to give advices about “choking”,


Eric W. Says:

McEnroe lost the 1984 French Open to an inspired Ivan Lendl, it’s true. But he made four Wimbledon finals, wining three, and four US Open finals — winning them all. Nole has lost four of his past five GS finals. So I think McEnroe is qualified to voice his opinion. Since 2011, Nole has consistently choked on the big stage, and barring an unlikely infusion of mental strength, may never win another Grand Slam.


Steve 27 Says:

McEnroe admited that his failure against the pre Djokovic (Lendl) was his biggest regret of his career.. And this match has nothing to do in his greatnees in Wimbledon and the Us Open.

We all know, the spoiled brat is much better than Joker.


Eric W. Says:

Steve, you are correct. McEnroe was mentally strong on the big stage, unlike Djoker, and had it not been for burnout and recreational drugs, would have eclipsed Lendl and everyone else by the time he hung it up. Ironically, Nole is like his “head coach” Becker: supremely talented but a massive underachiever…


Michael Says:

Tearfully, Novak has to live for another day. I thought this was his best chance to complete his career Grand slam. But I was doubtful after the way Rafa mauled Ferrer and Andy in quick succession which signatured his arrival with a bang. Still I thought Novak reserved his best for the finals and he had a chance although I did fancy Rafa as the favourite. But, Rafa had other plans and literally dominated Novak right from the second set and then there was no stopping him. Now coming to Novak. Will he win French Open and complete career grand slam ? Again a big question mark ? Because Rafa will be 29 and will be coming for his 10th title. Novak has to make all the way through to the finals and then get the better off Rafa. A tall order, but Novak is a player who doesn’t give up so easily with his grit and determination which makes me hope for the best.


Polo Says:

After 2011, I thought Djokovic was on his way to shake things up in the mythological GOAT debate. What happened? How did he get so derailed? Is he the new heartbreak kid of tennis?


Eric W. Says:

You obviously haven’t watched his last several GS performances. He certainly gave up today after losing serve at 5-6 in the second. Identical to his capitulation last year in New York and London, etc. Quit deluding yourself and face reality: Nole is mentally weak and will never win another major.


Jess Says:

Poor Novak, I really wanted him to complete the career slam and also see a new winner at RG. Maybe next year. This reminded me of Wimby 2009 so much- Federer was going for his sixth and Roddick for his first. It would’ve meant more if Roddick won but then the opponent was the better player so definitely deserved to be champion.

Congratulations to Nadal


Daniel Says:

Nice to see you posting again Jane. Welcome back!!

As reagrpard to Djoko, I can’t believe that the way he is olayimg after US Opel last year will just fold.

He o ly lost to eventual chamipons: AO 14, Dubai 14, MC (lost to Federer but had wrist injury) and now RG 14 to Nadal. He is just “unlucky” that he is not producong his best tennis when it matters but eventually he will.

We still have 2 more Sla s this season where he is the most consistant of the top 4 last 3 years:

- Wimbledon: Champipn 11′, Semis 12′ and Final 13′
- US Open: Chamoion 11′, Finalis 12′ and Finalis 13′

Of course one cannsay he is mentally “soft” latelly losing GS matches but I think heis luck will change, he is too talendted not to and basically few can take 3 sets out of him. Federer last did it in 2012 but is a shade of himself – This Wikby 14′ could be his last hurra; Murray is still a question mark and all the pressure of grass season will be on him; Nadal is kn a hygh tide but has to survive first week to exorcise last 2 years. Can’t see anybody else winning Wimby, maybe Raonic.
Djoko is consistanta and if he gets a good draw anything can happen. I won’t be surprised if he wins both Wimbledon and US Open. At least one of this two I think he gest this year. If he finishes this year Slamless I will be very surpised. I bet my money more on him than Fed and Murray, and after him is Nadal, who could be needing a time off to. Ot burn out. He is playing non stop simce February 2013, the longer he had in years. His level can decrease any minute and have a sub par second hath of the year.

All remais to be seen. Clay is over and Nadal still the Man, nothing new…;-)


Okiegal Says:

@Eric W

You posted on another thread that you are a loyal Novak fan…….really??


Okiegal Says:

Are these players never supposed to fold under pressure once in awhile? Ease up people…these guys are human!! I would love to see how you wannabe club players would do on the big stage…..or have you been there before and couldn’t cut the mustard?? LOL
I just don’t understand all the negative comments regarding Novak. He’s an amazing athlete…..I’m not a fan of his, but I know a good player when I see one. I think he’s getting a bum wrap!!

#rantover


Margot Says:

*Shouts and waves* to jane and Wog boy. Gr8 to see you again :)


Michael Says:

Some are deriding Novak as a choker since he has lost three grand slam finals in a row and some others are deriding him as no-fighter, lacking mental will blah blah. Does Novak merit such derisions after all his accomplishments especially beating Rafa at Wimbledon, US Open and Australian Open finals ? At US Open, he beat Roger and Rafa back to back which is a phenomenal feat. Remember he was the one who took Nadal to the edge of precipice in 2013 semi finals when some luck favouring he should have won. But due to a host of factors including Rafa’s brilliant play, he could not force the issue and a golden opportunity was lost. I would never say Novak didn’t try during this match. He did all that was possible. But it was simply not his day. To make matters worse, he was suffering physically on court and infact was found vomiting. But in a gentlemanly fashion, he didn’t even mention it during the course of his interview. The only way Novak could have won the match is by outhitting Rafa. But that is easier than done, more so at Rolland Garros where Rafa finds enormous time to retrieve even shots hit at impossible angles. Even over here, remember it was Novak who has made the match close and not Andy or Ferrer. It was a good first set for Novak and in the second, the match was hanging balance at 5-6, when Nadal managed to break Novak’s serve and the momentum swing switched to his favour. While the third was easy for Rafa, in the fourth, Novak made a fight back which unfortunately was not enough.


Michael Says:

Amidst all the gloom, what are the positives Novak can take from this tournament :-

1.


Michael Says:

Amidst all the gloom what are the positives Novak can lift from this tournament.

The first thing is that he made another finals at Rolland Garros.

Second, despite not playing near his best and suffering somewhat physically, he made the match close especially in the 2nd and 4th sets and that is an amazing thing to do against Rafa who was playing near perfection.

He is still the only player who has some chance against Rafa even on this court. The rest of the field looks totally lost against Rafa even before they enter the court.

He should be an eternal optimist and believe in a better tomorrow which is the only way to build up your confidence. It is hope which makes a man live for. Novak should not give up hope. He might have his day at rolland Garros as he is only 27 and still has three good years to go.

He had a wonderful 2014 so far winning three Master Series tournaments, an Australian Open seminal losing to Wawarinka in 5 sets and here to Rafa in the finals which is no shame.


calmdownplease Says:

@okiegal

`You posted on another thread that you are a loyal Novak fan…….really??`

A lot of these so called loyal Novak fans are actually fans of another player, so the knives will invariably come out if he disappoints.
Such is the way of things.


madmax Says:

Djokovic admitted afterward that he was in some distress late in the match – TV showed him visibly vomiting twice on the court – but credited Nadal with the strong play.

Novak didn’t discuss his distress until after the match! This is the thing that goes unnoticed.

Did anyone see him vomit on Court? I didn’t see that.


madmax Says:

He did well to battle his distress I Think and unlike others, he doesn’t go on about his injuries. He will either play them down or say nothing until after the event. This was one of those Days.

People had been talking about the fact that Novak had a virus. Makes no difference, he played, and that is not what I am saying. What I am saying is that no one can call Novak an under achiever! Eric!


Michael Says:

Madmax,

I saw that footage where Novak was shown vomiting fluids.


madmax Says:

Michael,

Was he suffering from a virus? Has he said anything else about it that you know of? A link somewhere? Thanks for the info.


Steve27 Says:

Undearchievier were Safin and especially Nalbandian, whom I expect much more on his carrer.
Otherwise, he never priorized tennis and sacrifices over life.
But it was his decision and it is respectable tough.


Michael Says:

Well as Madmax too points out, Novak was in some distress and that can be seen from the sheer sullen look of his face and his match temperament where he was more sombre contrasting his usual belligerent noises and thumb fists he usually makes on court between points. All these pointed out that something was deeply bothering Novak. But no one is not sure what was that exactly ? Novak explained the fatigue factor which gripped him during the third set of the Gulbis match. May be that returned back to haunt him. Whether it was due to virus infection or severe cold ? We do not know and the gentlemanly Novak too downplayed this during his post match interview which is remarkably appreciable. Nevertheless, this is not going to take anything away from Rafa’s win. He won fair and square. If Novak is not fit, it is his botheration which cannot be made as an excuse for the defeat. A tennis player basically is expected to be fit before he starts playing out a match. If he is not Ok, he should have opted for walk over. Once he has decided to play, it means that he is fit and raring to go.


Michael Says:

Madmax,

As I said, Neither Novak nor his Team has clearly come out on what was really bothering him. They are just maintaining a mysterious silence. Novak is very particular about not inventing excuses for defeat and thereby being discourteous to the Winner stealing away the credit. But what seems obvious is that he was not feeling OK right from the third set against Gulbis. And even for that post match interview, he turned up two hours late which meant something was really bothering him. Nevertheless, we can feel only pity for Novak that this strange twist of fate literally shattered his dreams.


Michael Says:

Steve, Safin and Nalbandian really are big under achievers considering their robust talent. Tennis expected much from them. But their career was boggled with injuries and they just couldn’t fulfil their true potential.


Steve27 Says:

Injuries and lack or work ethics, Michael.
Like I said, they refused to sacrificizes like Nadal, Federer or Djokovic to reach their fulfill potential.
Djokovic is to Nadal like Nalbandian could have been for Federer.


Michael Says:

Steve,

I know both these players were plagued by injuries throughout their career. I am not fully aware of their commitment to their profession. So, I am not able to comment on their professional ethics or lack of it. But I assume all Professional Players give their best to come up higher in rankings, but only a miniscule few succeed. If you ask me why the few succeeded, while the rest failed, I have no answers ? In any sport, in addition to hard work, mental attitude, perseverance, endurance and temperament, you also need a little amount of luck to turn things in your favour. If you ask me how would explain luck, I would say “by favourable circumstances when everything align at the right moment for you to succeed. John Mcenroe for instance was a lazy player who hardly turned up for practice before matches. But he had an enormous amount of talent to compensate his lack of work ethics and ironically he went on beat players with strict work ethics in important matches. So his in born qualities compensated for his lack of work ethics in life which is a bit unfair strictly speaking. But that is how life is – unfair in all aspects. Rafa, Roger and Novak did have an element of luck in their favour in addition to thier dedicated work ethics. They have become larger than life figures due to qualities which bring value addition.


Daniel Says:

Madmax,

I saw he vomiting in slow motion actually, so un necessaary. The comentors were even joking that was a view the viewer didn’t need in close up.


Okiegal Says:

I saw Pete throw up on court once, but missed that one yesterday. I could tell early in the match that Novak had some issues. Hope he recovers and is ready for Wimby!!


contador Says:

Well, I was not even interested in posting until I saw Wog boy and Jane.

Thanks for popping in you two! Very nice to see you.

Honestly I was thinking of giving up following ATP (except for Gulbis). But I left on a long Sunday morning bike ride and set my DVR to record the match. When I got back and saw the result, that was it ….completely devasted. Okay maybe I can watch the match now – just to see what is wrong with our man. Several things come to mind, but only time will tell. Hope he gets well soon and is back to bossing the ATP.


contador Says:

Devastated not devasted…..

Such bad luck.


contador Says:

Anyway, I was also hoping to read something about the tournaments going on right now, Tennis-X. Come on.

Tennis goes marching on.


Okiegal Says:

@Contador

Good thing you corrected that misspell, Colin would be all over you like a cheap suit!! LOL What’s funny about grammar and spelling mistakes, everyone always manages to read between the lines and know exactly what you are trying to say……but I do like Colin and enjoy his posts.


Eric W. Says:

@Okiegal: Yes, Sampras threw up in the quarters of the 1996 US Open against Corretja, but still managed to win in 5. On his way to the title that year, BTW. Michael Chang severely cramped up versus Lendl (then world #1) in the fourth round of the 1989 French Open — and still won in 5 sets, after being down 2 sets to love! And eventually won the tournament. So the fact that Nole was sick doesn’t mean he was incapable of winning. His mental strength was lacking against an also ailing Nadal, which accounts for the huge disparity in their respective GS totals.


contador Says:

@Okiegal. Oh, I have been edited by Colin. No poster is exempt.

____________

Have to say I am happy for the Tennis-X Nadal fans. That is all I can manage. But sincerely – a happy day for a Nadal fan.


Okiegal Says:

@Contador

I don’t expect a non Rafa fan to elaborate on his victory, what you said will suffice and thank you very much!

@Eric

I remember seeing Baggy cramping up big time at the USO a few years back. I forget who he played, but he was hobbling around really bad. I felt sorry for him. He was putting up a fight, but the cramping legs got the better of him.

I think Novak wanted off the court, or at least he played that way. I just don’t think he felt well enough to fight the curse of Roland Garros, Rafa being the curse. He knows Rafa never gives up and he just wasn’t up to the task yesterday, imo. He said in his semi final presser he had an issue but didn’t want to get into it, so who knows what his problem was. He did act under the weather.


roy Says:

novak played at a high level for the first set and a half and he was playing well at the end too. it’s hard to believe he was truly ill. it doesn’t add up really. you can’t get the better of nadal or even stick with him for two hours on any surface let alone clay with a true virus. come on. this is elite sport.

in any case, nadal mentioned the conditions were extremely difficult because of a sudden change in humidity and apparently he was cramping at the end of the match, something i’ve never seen from him.
and he asked toni for the doctor at the end of the match because of his exhaustion.
so perhaps this can also explain djoker’s physical ailments.

as for djoker’s mental strength, he’s not mentally weak. it just seems he’s not as tough as nadal. and i’d say it’s more about concentration rather than ‘belief’. he doesn’t have the same mental focus in my opinion, at least when things are not going his way.


skeezer Says:

roy,
Fair enough. Then how do you explain Novaks dominance of Rafa in 2011? Was he “good” mental then(or tougher) and now he is “bad” mental now(not tougher)? Please explain o great pyschiatric one.
#illogicalLaugher


Michael Says:

Roger in one of his earlier interviews had said that Novak is mentally tougher than even Rafa. Well, Rafa fans might disagree with such assessment with their own analysis and sense of perception, which too cannot be ignored. But such kind of assessment coming from a Champion, you need to give it some weightage, for Roger would not have said what he did without proper homework and evaluation.


Goatexpert Says:

Nobody is mentally tougher than Nadal. Period.

Nadal is the master of tactics, moves really well (on clay especially), has tons of stamina, and is mentally tougher than any tennis player I have ever seen. Then, of course, being a lefty has really benefitted him.

However, its really boring to watch his matches, which is a pity. The guy wastes so much time, moonballs, has really one shot that is so effective – the quality of tennis per se is not that great. Not much vareity. The same old strategy point after point, but he does it really well!

If there was a ratio of (Tennis achievements) divided by (Pure Tennis Skills), Nadal would have the highest ratio of all time.


Okiegal Says:

Rafa has won at least one slam for the last ten years. No man has ever done that……another amazing feat!


Michael Says:

Okiegal,

And hopefully, that will continue for another two more years since I cannot see anybody challenge Rafa’s hegemony at Rolland Garros. Novak can and still might pose some challenge. But the latest defeat must have devastated him and killed his confidence of beating Rafa at Rolland Garros for sure. His best chance was in 2013, but Novak failed to capitalise on it and is now paying the price.


Okiegal Says:

@Michael

Oh, me of little faith…..I had half way resigned myself to the fact that he surely cant do it again, but he did. However, after he beat David and Andy so soundly, I changed my mind. His game went to a whole new level and bingo, he’s got #9! Novak’s head has to be in a funk right now, but he will bounce back. They both were looking very fatigued, the humidity must have been horrendous that day. On to grass!


Michael Says:

Okiegal,

True. More than the heat, the intense humidity factor should have bothered both the players. The temperature seems to have hovered between 26-27 degrees which is pretty normal in my opinion. Afterall, these two have played a marathon 5 hour final at Australian Open where the heat is much intense than in Paris when sometimes on court temperatures climbs in excess of 50 degrees and the organizers deploy the “extreme heat” policy too to give instant relief to players. So, relatively speaking, Paris heat should have been much tolerable, but intriguingly it was bothering the players which only can be due to the extreme humidity factor.


Michael Says:

It is really boring to watch matches of Nadal

This is an exaggeration. Beauty is afterall in the eyes of the beholder. Those who idolize Nadal find beauty in his play, razor sharp serve, movement, speed, agility, control, brutal power, inside out forehand, court coverage etc. Ofcourse, there must always be something special to become a Top Class player. Rafa has plenty of strengths under his command which does the talking during matches. Therefore, to dismiss outright such a player as boring only smacks of wilful bias and prejudice and is insulting his legendary status and contribution to this sport.


gonzalowski Says:

Nadal’s playing on SF against Andy was the most beautiful I remember in a tennis court. More than Fed’s lightness and accuracy
I know many people won’t agree with that, well, it’s subjective.

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