Novak Djokovic’s triumph at the Australian Open cast in stone his reputation as the greatest tennis player in the world. He is, unquestionably, on the crest of a wave, enjoying success after success, title after title. Last year, Djokovic secured victories in the Wimbledon, Australian Open and US Open finals, becoming the sixth male tennis player to win three grand slams in a year. Should Djokovic triumph at the French Open, which will require the Serbian to conquer insurmountable clay expert Rafael Nadal, winner of six of the past seven French Open titles, he would hold all four grand slam titles simultaneously, an extraordinary feat.
Djokovic’s final with Nadal was an epic, weighing in at almost six hours of tennis. The rally played out between the two was one of the most intense scenes of the entire tournament, and a testament to the dominance of both.
Yet Djokovic was the victor, claiming the final set 7-5, after having come from two sets to one down and fended off break points at 5-5 in that epic closing set.
The world number one came through two matches lasting 10 hours, 40 minutes, against Andy Murray and Nadal, to claim victory down under. In the style of a true champion, and an image all tennis fans became accustomed to seeing on a yearly basis at Wimbledon during the “Federer era,” Djokovic threw himself to the ground in a mixture of relief and ecstasy after overcoming Nadal. His tribute to the Spaniard was touching, and illustrated an acute awareness of his rival’s own undeniable strengths: “Rafa is one of the greatest players ever … Unfortunately there couldn’t be two winners, and I hope we have many more matches like this.” Despite a lower first serve accuracy percentage, Djokovic hit more winners, produced fewer errors, and half Nadal’s double fault tally. His second serve remained strong, with a 63% win percentage.
BBC tennis correspondent Jonathan Overend described Djokovic as “super-human” after coming through against Nadal, and lauded the intensity, anger and quality of the final, fought between two giants of contemporary tennis. It’s hard to disagree with this assessment. The final could not be missed, as break points presented themselves but were reclaimed by both players, and the exquisite combination of hard-hitting tennis met the technical intricacy and supreme ability of two men who were worthy of gracing any stage as they fought for the upper hand in front of an awed and extended crowd of millions.
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