Master Of His Domain: The Novak Djokovic Story
POWER SQUATS: They do a body good.
A lot of ink gets spilled (just kidding, no one writes with pens anymore because internetz!) over Djokovic’s ridiculous shotmaking. The way he spanked a forehand winner match point down against Federer at the US Open in 2011, for example.
But during the Aussie Open finals, even when he was down a set and three break points to Murray, I never thought he was out of it. I fully expected him to come back, simply for the reason that while his shots weren’t landing, he wasn’t overplaying.
If anything it looked like he was biding his time, like he knew he would only get better as the match progressed.
At Nole’s best, he makes the game look metronomic, all his forehands and backhands crisply struck and rhythmic. Not a shot wasted, no movement made out of turn.
Compare this with some of the flashier but much less accomplished players in the game (I’m looking at you, Monfils and Gasquet!), and their tennis starts to look silly, contrived—masturbatory.
Novak thankfully lacks all of these flourishes.
Some folks would argue that’s a bad thing, that Djokovic’s baseline harmonics don’t compare to the improvisational brilliance of Federer in his prime, or Nadal’s ruthless athleticism on the clay.
I think there’s a place for each of these styles but don’t take it from me. Take it from the top players. Djokovic has the Aussie Open while Nadal holds the French, Federer Wimbledon and Murray the US Open.
It’s unfortunate that the final with Murray couldn’t match last year’s five hour 53 minute forced march of a match, or the giddy level of play Nadal reached in 2009. Even so, there is something appealing about watching someone go about his business at the height of his career, swatting aside his greatest rivals on his favorite court.
Hell, it’s why we watched Federer for all those years.
And though the Djokovic-Murray rivalry hasn’t hit the dizzying heights of Nadal-Federer or McEnroe-Borg, it’s still worth watching because both of them are evolving how to play on the tour today, both of them play unbelievable offense and defense, and yes, both of them are pretty rad fellows in their own right. (I mean, Murray is this pale wonder of the world. How does he stay so damn white in the sun all day?!)
But this post is really about Djokovic. If there were any question after his titanic fifth set win over Wawrinka in the fourth round, it’s been answered.
He’s still master of his domain.
And with that, I’m going to sleep forever.