11 Things I Think I Thought About Novak Djokovic And The Australian Open
by Sean Randall | January 28th, 2019, 10:06 pm
  • 26 Comments

So the season’s first Slam at the Australian Open is “done and dusted” as they say, so what have we learned?

1. Novak Rules
Novak Djokovic began his 2019 Grand Slam season with the same fury with which he ended 2018, dominating. And that should portend well for the Serb especially with so few points to defend until Wimbledon. Heck, he could wrap up the No. 1 ranking by the time he gets to that title defense at the AELTC. And the clay season might have some intrigue.

2. Federer Breathing Easier
He may not care, but Roger Federer dodged a big bullet Sunday night, and he should probably send Djokovic a thank you card for preventing Rafael Nadal from a GOAT-clinching second Career Slam and 18th Slam title.

With 18 Slams, Nadal would surely get a couple more and equal Roger, but that second Career Slam is what puts him ahead.

Of course Djokovic can also win another Career Slam in Paris, but he’ll need a few more overall titles to put the heat on Roger.

3. Rafa’s Serves Notice
Well, Rafa’s game and serve looked great against the younglings of Alex De Minaur, Stefanos Tsitsipas and Frances Tiafoe, but Djokovic simply crushed it and then crushed his game.

Sure, maybe Rafa had an off night. But a thorough ass-kicking like this is going to stay with Nadal a while. And Djokovic’s has now won 17 straight sets over Rafa on hardcourts. That’s going to be tough to overcome when they meet again.

But as long as he doesn’t face Novak, he’s looking good!

4. Osaka On Top
High marks to Naomi Osaka for backing up her US Open title with a second in Melbourne. And she did it the hard way winning four 3-set matches and beating some tough, tricky opponents. Taking out lefty Petra Kvitova, the big-serving Karolina Pliskova, the unorthodox Anastasija Sevastova and the female Santoro, Su-Wei Hsieh.

That’s not easy to do but she did it coolly and competently and she did it with the spotlight on her. At just 21, she’s seems durable, focused and it looks like she’s enjoying herself. If you haven’t figured it out, she’s going to win a bunch.

5. The End Is Nigh For Federer, Serena
Going back to the Federer-Tsitsipas match, I just don’t think the Swiss played well, particularly in the big moments – he finished 0/12 on break chances.

His 37-year-old fellow-GOAT Serena also struggled at the end in big moments, blowing four match points in a stunning loss to Pliskova.

Just based on the situation – up 5-1, 40-30 – I’d rate Serena’s loss the bigger shock. But bottom line is, Father Time is catching up to both and I would say next year will be the last year we see either in Melbourne…If the even return.

6. Big 3 > NextGen
It’s just amazing watching the Big 3 – well, I guess Novak and Rafa this past week – deny upset bids by these NextGen kids like Tstisipas, Tiafoe, Daniil Medvedev and others.

I get the sense that they think they can beat them – and they have – but in a best-of-5 they don’t have the goods yet. With Djokovic just 31, he could stay on top of the tour another 2-3 years easy, and alongside Rafa and maybe one more title from Roger, we could see the trio continue to run the table on Slams for a while longer.

And at same point, this NextGen class could become another LostGen class, and we begin talking about younger guys we haven’t heard of yet (other than the FAA kid from Canada).

7. Zverev Needs More Help
Speaking of NextGen, its de facto leader Alexander Zverev continues to be a bust in Slams. He added Ivan Lendl to the team and that didn’t help. Maybe he should go after Andre Agassi or Brad Gilbert or Coach Roche or all of them.

What he probably should do but won’t, is completely break his game down then build it back up. Maybe frame in these best-of-5 matches. You just can’t be getting broken six times by Milos Raonic. Something is deeply wrong between the ears.

8. Women’s Matches
I have to admit, down the stretch the women’s matches in Australia far and away eclipsed the men’s. There was some decent drama during the men’s quarterfinals, but after that it was three straight absolute blowouts.

Meanwhile, the women stole the show with a really compelling final and a bunch of intriguing second week matches.

9. Murray Should Challenge His Own Retirement Announcement
I don’t know what’s going on with Andy Murray, but I did find it strange that he announced a retirement then walked it back. Now, who knows. I guess it was just a knee-jerk reaction, but you don’t do that and announcement you’re done. That’s one you really need to think about before announcing and by the sounds of it he wishes he could get a do-over.

10. High Marks For The Final Set Tiebreaker

I agree with many who said the Australian Open got it right by deciding the final by a 10-point tiebreak at 6-all. It’s been a long time coming, glad they stepped-up and had the guts to do it.

That means all four Slams have differing ways of finishing a deciding set contest, which is a weird, but I’m ok with it. But my guess is the French, which still plays it out, and Wimbledon, which has a breaker at 12-all, eventually also move to this format. The players like it.

That said, these are all just baby steps toward getting all matches down to a very tv- and low-attention-span-friendly best-of-3. It’s years away, but it’s going to happen.

11. Australian Open
How come as the technology improves and we make advances in internet, mobile data, speed, etc., the Australian Open website keeps getting worse year-over-year?


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26 Comments for 11 Things I Think I Thought About Novak Djokovic And The Australian Open

Mike Says:

Um, yeah, the article is ok, but it seems that the GOAT side of the story is not precise at all. Federer is not the GOAT just because he has 21 slam. Facts, not fiction.


j-kath Says:

While there’s loads of nwspapers and social media re. Andy Murray – the BBC News is showing him in bed as well as showing a blown-up picture of his hip with his metal implant – ugh!


Andy Mira Says:

JK…I’m really glad Andy choose to have the surgery…Now i will pray for him so he could play tennis again…Never say never!….C’mon Andy!!…Don’t give up!!

https://media.tenor.com/images/94b2215911051900a2bdef69e30b63d6/raw


j-kath Says:

Andy Mira:

Thank you for your kind concern. Andy will be pain free in his normal life which is a wonderful start. This may sound strange, but to be honest, I’m not very sure I want him to return to tennis.


chrisford1 Says:

1. It will be up to Andy and his doctors, hopefully with input from wife, family, & friends – but after his 1st surgery, there was discussion that if that didn’t work, he would have a resurfacng hip replacement surgery that would allow him a normal active life – but not intense high impact sports. Elite tennis was contraindicated. More to follow, I am sure.
2. I just don’t see Federer retiring without a year long victory lap for his adoring followers. Serena? Media that want her to chase Margaret Court’s “record” are making a stupid expectation on her, as most of Court’s records were before the Open Era and much of it was based on trophies at the Australian Nations when no one much besides Aussies and New Zealanders played. Trophies “grandfathered” in, to give the newly created Slam some history. I don’t expect Williams to linger and be second fiddle to anyone, and if she is “with child” again, she’s done if that happens.
3. Sean needs to go back and take into account that Novak has been more a guardian of Feds records from Nadal than a ‘taker’ of Slams from Fed since 2009. Fed just couldn’t handle Rafa at that AO. He cried. Then Madrid happened and both Novak and Rafa were F’d from that war for the rest of 2009 into 2010. Allowing Fed the French Open, Wimbledon, and USO Finals and AO 2010 without having to face Rafa. In 2010, Rafa ran wild. Then Nole 2.0 happened in 2011 and someone that could take on Rafa on any surface came into being.


Andy Mira Says:

JK…As a fan,we will support anything that Andy will do…If this surgery is going to be a success,and he can play tennis again…then it’s a bonus….but if it happen otherwise..then we will accept it with an open heart & mind….That’s all we can do…

But as a tennis lover and a fan who would love to see him play & winning again,i will not giving up easily…Like i said,i will do my part by pray for him after my prayer…if Allah permitted,he will be well again..if not..to see him living pain free for the rest of his life is a blessing too…


Daniel Says:

Seeing the last AO final one misses Murray even more. At least he gave Djoko a
fight in all their finals even the one who was straight sets


RZ Says:

So glad Andy went through the surgery. It’ll be a bummer if he has to miss Wimbledon but the important thing is that he will be out of pain.


RZ Says:

Good write-up Sean.
1. Yep
2. Not sure Fed is breathing easier. He seems like a realist to me and can see Djokovic catching up fast. I bet he knows that if not Rafa, then Djokovic (or both) will pass him in the GS count.
3. Yep. Rafa may play very few hardcourt tournaments these days, but when he does enter, he goes deep into the tournament.
4. Yep. Mental calmness may be Osaka’s biggest strength. She just doesn’t seem to get rattled much and keeps going about her business. I hope that remains true as she deals with additional attention as the new #1.
5. Serena and Fed will probably both play till at least the 2020 Olympics, and if Serena is tied or one behind Margaret Court this/next year, I can see her playing as long as she thinks she has a chance to catch/pass her.
6. Yep
7. Yep. Also true for Svitolina.
8. Yep.
9. I think Murray was speaking about enduring the pain he’s had for a long time and not knowing how long he can go on, as well as the uncertainty that comes with surgery. I don’t think he thought he’d get the reaction he did. But for all we know, it could have been his last match.
10. Yep.
11. Yep. Definitely issues with the website and the app.


Czarlazar Says:

I just saw a beautiful picture of Nole after winning in Melbourne:

https://giphy.com/gifs/6Xtd46o5rJHI4/html5


chrisford1 Says:

Ooooooooo! Sparkly GOAT!!! I like it, Czarlazar!

I won’t think of Rafa or Nole as GOAT of this era until they are done and what they did is judged better than what Federer did.
One thing that destroys “Slamcount” as the only measure of Goathood worth contemplating is if Novak gets another Grand Slam, and becomes the 1st ever to get a double career slam. Even then it would be arguable. But if Novak wins six Slams in a row and claims a non-calendar year Grand Slam followed by a calendar one, the argument would be over. (Not that he has a realistic chance of 3 more Slams in a row).


RZ Says:

Interesting ATP rankings shuffling based on Fed and Cilic losing points.
– DelPo didn’t play AO yet moved up to #4 in the rankings
– Kevin Anderson lost in the first round and moved up to #5
– Isner lost in the first round and moved up to #9


Wog Boy Says:

This is little bit careless, today you never now what kind of people are walking around, but again, Nole is Nole, he wouldn’t do it any other way:

https://youtu.be/gxaIUb-6WOA

The chubby security woman couldn’t believe her luck, she is Serbian.


Wog Boy Says:

^^
“you never know” should say


Wog Boy Says:

Now look how the other one leaves Melbourne, I counted 3-4 federel police people, private security, under covered agents and servants to push their trolley, Pope was busy in South America otherwise he would lend him Swiss Guard:

https://youtu.be/tgwzrcO5oKs

One more thing, no signing autographs or selfies with his fans.


Wog Boy Says:

And this is how dragon slayer lef Melbourne:

https://youtu.be/Je_hZHjU0W4


chrisford1 Says:

Thanks for the vids, Wog. The Fed video had a couple tools turned away from a selfie at 0.05 seconds , then at 1:16 you notice the same tools, notably the hefty one dressed in gray shorts and gray t-shirt with a big picture of something on the front and a black CAT ballcap, had run up for a second try, the other guy tall, in shorts, white “Champion” t-shirt and backpack looking on. Hefty tool figures he will just block Fed’s path, forcing him into stopping and doing the selfie. Nope. He got shoved out of the way with a “nay mate!”

The Tsitsipas vid was funny. Typical youngster looking and wandering about the airport. As opposed to the half bus load of baggage Novak has and the two busloads of stuff Fed was hauling to and from Australia all Tsitsipas has is a tiny luggage bag on wheels his racket bag, and courtside day bag. He traveled light or just needed to on his budget (which will never be an issue again) He and the AO help guy head the wrong way to the wrong terminal, do an ‘about face’ go to the right one. Tsitsipas heads into the cattle line and is walking up that when the Emirates staff indicates no…he now gets the express line!

For the ladies and Tsitsipas fans in general, I link to a video of Stephanos with shorter hair as a junior – he was 15, I think. Strikingly handsome and pleasant young man.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uT5ymVTQunM

All I want to say about Djokovic is you don’t realize how skinny he is until you see him alongside regular folk.


Czarlazar Says:

WB:Great research on the airport vids, as it makes the distinction between Nole and the pompous Swiss crystal clear. The other thing it brought to mind: as with the fans, Novak has been incredibly gracious to Federer over the years even though Fed has mainly been a prick in return, loathe to give credit to someone who long ago surpassed him as the best of the Big 3 (Strongest Era ever, following Fed’s dominance during the Weak Era). After no doubt watching Novak’s masterclass in the Aussie final against the other player who left Roger in the dust ages ago, absolute silence from His Highness. Look at the pompous one’s Twitter account: lots of action until he was knocked out by Tsitsipas, and then crickets. Pinned to the top of his twitter feed is a picture of him after winning the AO in Jan. 2018 — egomaniac, much? Thankfully, that’ll be his last GS title now that the ATP tour is back to full strength!

https://twitter.com/rogerfederer


Wog Boy Says:

Czarlazar, thanks for the link and agree, I don’t have any social media accounts, just following regular news and google the things I am interested in.


Wog Boy Says:

CF1,
Pleasure


Ronn Says:

Czar, it never ceases to amaze me that “The Arrogant One” has a fane-base that so blindly refuses to see him as the extremely arrogant prick that he really is. The arrogance really doesn’t bother me, but the fact that the media constantly hypes him as some really humble down-to-earth guy makes me want to puke. And even the commentators during Federer’s matches show extreme bias when it comes to Federer. When he decent BH winner down the line that drool over him and call the shot “majestic” or “poetry in motion”, but when Djoko runs the length of the court and with speed that would make a cheetah blush and then returns a cross court BH laser for a clean winner, the same idiot commentators will pause for a second, and then say something stupid like “Hey, good backhand by Novak. He looks solid today”. With Djoko, it’s always the word “solid” that they use to describe Djoko’s play. Even in the AO final when Djoko totally dominated Rafa and toyed with him like a cat toys with a mouse, I heard the word “solid” over 10 times! No matter that he committed only 9 unforced errors the entire match (when’s the last time that happened in a MAJORS final?) and beat Rafa in 3 straight sets (The first time Rafa ever lost a MAJORS final in straight sets), I still heard the word “solid” over 10 times. It’s just ridiculous how they suck up to Federer so much but never give Djoko the credit he deserves no matter how great he plays.


Czarlazar Says:

Ronn, yes it is bizarre and even a bit comical how everyone worships Fed, not just because of his “elegant” game but also for his “sportsmanlike” demeanour. Such as this interview after losing the 2011 US Open final to Djokovic:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Istcd6U_J9s

Particularly “sportsmanlike” are his comments around the 3:30 mark. Also, The Guardian newspaper had a good write up on it: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2011/sep/11/us-open-2011-federer-djokovic


chrisford1 Says:

I don’t begrudge Federer his fans among the masses and the writers and Nike. He is a wonderful player and by most accounts, a nice guy, with many friends on tour. But I do dislike their tendency to diminish, disparage, or ignore great players outside Fedal. The core of this is all those in the above-mentioned “Team Fed” tried to make it all about a two-guy competition. “Greatest rivalry ever!” “Greatest Match ever played.” Nadal, the junior partner, was cast as the sweet innocent OCD suffering humble idiot savant with a genius for clay, still learning at the feet of the “Maestro”.
That narrative worked for a couple of years, and while Rafa began dominating, the Fedal narrative survived 2007-2010. “Just wait, GOAT Roger will figure Nadal out soon enough”. But Djokovic came along in late 2010, stole Fed’s rightful spot at the USO, and “ruined everything” in 2011. Two’s company, three is a crowd.
Roger’s fans (the Fedtard wing of his fans) and sports writer worshippers of Roger, never forgave Djokovic for that, elements of Djokovic’s personality, and the traditional prejudice Western Europe has had for the 4 B’s. “Backwards Bloodthirsty Bumpkins of the Balkans.”


fan Says:

since the big four, tennis is not the same.


Tennis Vagabond Says:

Just want to drop in and say, Novak played unbelievable. Some quick random thoughts I hope will make some kind of sense:

The odds were certainly for Novak to win this finals, given his total dominance over Rafa on hard courts for the last few years, but I was still cheering for Rafa (even though it would bring him closer to Roger’s slam count). I promised that, if they meet again in the French, I’ll cheer for Novak. If Fed can’t be in that finals, that’s my plan. For being the only player that could go toe to toe with Rafa on clay, he deserves another trophy there.

But what happened to Rafa’s game here? He was making errors like I’ve never seen him make in a Slam match. He looked slow, first of all, and secondly, his groundstrokes were more inconsistent than I’ve ever seen.

Hopefully this was just a blip in his return after months off tour, because he certainly seemed dominant in previous matches. I say this with no dog in the race, no beefs against either player: that was Rafa at his worst I’ve ever seen him in a Slam.

I understand everyone being excited over Novak’s triumph, but I’m a little surprised no one is looking at Rafa’s side and wondering what was going on there.

In any case, Novak has certainly cemented himself as being in the same all time echelon as Roger and Rafa. In my mind, he was already there as a junior partner (i.e. ahead of Sampra, Laver, Borg…), but with this dominant performance, and his whole last year starting at Wimbledon, I really have to consider him as an equal to Roger and Rafa. Some posters have mentioned Slam count as being not that important in terms of GOAT: I’ve always thought time at #1 was equal to that. Novak I guess is catching up to Roger (surpassing?), can anyone summarize where they all stand on that?
As far as I recall, Novak has long surpassed R+R on Masters level tournaments. Then, in terms of dominant seasons or streaks, I think Novak has surpassed Rafa, and maybe even Roger.

On the Next Generation: what next generation? Milos, Kei and Grigor (The Lost Gen) are now just fillers in the round of 16 (i.e. the new Berdych/Tsongas), and Zverev and the flavour-of-the-week (Medvedev, Kachanov, Tiafoe, Shapovalov, Kyrgios…) are not showing themselves to be any more serious threats. Novak looks like he can beat on those guys for another couple years, and by then, we’ll be talking about another peer group. Kyrgios has the most talent, and I’ve tried to overlook what an a-hole he is because he’s so fun to watch, but it looks likely that he’ll be squandering that talent, and I’ll be cheering him on in that endeavour.

I think its more likely Stan and DelPo will be challenging Novak than the younger stars, for 2019. And I don’t particularly like there odds either. Its possible that Novak’s 2019 could turn out to be his greatest season yet!


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