Novak Djokovic kisses the trophy after defeating Rafael Nadal within the men’s U.S. Open final in New York.
When he won the U.S… Open on Monday night, his third Grand Slam title of the year, Novak Djokovic didn’t dance to the hip-hop music blaring over the Arthur Ashe Stadium loudspeakers in Big apple. His delirious entourage – which included his coach, uncle, manager, trainer and girlfriend – bounced of their seats. He didn’t eat some strange substance, like at Wimbledon, where he chomped on grass after winning the championship. (Though he did give the hard court surface slightly peck.) He didn’t pull out one among his famous impersonations, or act goofy for the crowd, which he’s keen on doing.
No, Djokovic just slouched in his chair, taking all of it in. After the kind of season this guy has had, he certainly deserves a little bit rest.
Turns out that tearing up men’s tennis will also be exhausting. “I feel drained,” the Serbian player said after beating Rafael Nadal, 6-2, 6-4, 6-7, 6-1, within the final. He was wearing a backwards “FDNY” cap, in honor of 9/11, while speaking with the media. “Emotionally and physically.”
Djokovic is now 64-2 in 2011, good for a crazy .970 winning percentage up to now. (John McEnroe has set the usual for dominance in a season along with his 82-3 record, and .965 winning percentage, in 1984.) “What this guy is doing this year is an improbable thing,” Nadal said in his gracious on-court speech after the match. “What you’ve done this year,” Nadal said, turning to stand Djokovic, “will probably never be repeated.”
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It’s tough to name a four-set match epic. But this 2011 final was pretty close. Double-digit shot rallies were common. At times, the players appeared to be hitting at one another, to peer who would screw up first. Eventually, one among them, especially Djokovic, would hit the ball at just the precise angle for a winner. (Djokovic finished the match with 55 winners, while Nadal had 33.) Inside the match, Djokovic was the aggressor. He approached the web 47 times, and won 66% of these points; Nadal only came up 17 times, and won 76% of his approaches. “I needed to make the points short,” Djokovic said, explaining his strategy. “He’s physically fitter.”
Djokovic mixed things up. Within the first set, which he won 6-2, he hit a couple of pretty drop shots that fooled Nadal. Djokovic is now 6-0 against Nadal in 2011, and he gave the impression to be toying with him. Inside the match, his shots were sharper, and flatter, than his opponent’s. Nadal blooped a couple of too many balls over the web; they seemed like shots a weekend hack could return. And he admitted that his serve was sub-par. “I didn’t start the points with a bonus tonight on my serve,” Nadal said. It cost him.
But Nadal, as usual, never folded. His third set charge electrified the brand new York crowd, which was letting off some post-work steam. (The match started a bit after 4 p.m., with many empty seats; by the end, where was packed.) It is not that the fans disliked Djokovic. They only desired to see more tennis. Nadal won the third set tiebreaker, and held his serve within the first game of the fourth set. But before the gang could get too explosive, Djokovic called for a medical timeout. His ribs, legs and back were hurting. He took a painkiller, after which put a hurt on Nadal, winning the following six games, and the match.
Djokovic’s record has sparked debate a number of the racquet-heads. Where does he rank a few of the all-time greats? We’ve not seen a single player rule the game on this way since Roger Federer within the mid-2000s. Can we be comparing Djokovic’s game to a non secular experience?
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He’s not quite there yet. A part of this has to do along with his style: he isn’t as fluid as Federer, and Federer’s grace transcended the sport. Using the utterly subjective, unscientific approach to evaluating athletes – after I watch this guy, am I in awe? – Djokovic falls a hair short. But when he keeps winning, Djokovic will just overwhelm his doubters.
And he’ll keep loving every minute of it. This year, Djokovic made a famous change to his diet and stopped eating gluten after a nutritionist discovered he was allergic to the protein. After the match, someone asked him what he ate the night before. “I offers you an easy answer,” Djokovic told the media. “Last night, I DID NOT have any gluten, and tonight, I WILL BE ABLE TO have a host of gluten, and alcohol.” The room cracked up.
Djokovic’s team ordered champagne to the locker room. In an Ashe Stadium corridor, Djokovic took congratulatory calls on a mobile phone. Martina Navratilova was passing throughout the hallway, and was introduced to Djokovic’s long-time girlfriend, Jelena Ristic. “What a season,” Navratilova told Ristic. “It’s unbelievable. And it probably will never happen again.
“Enjoy it whi…