It’s always impossible to say everything I want to say after a slam final in one post so I am back with my customary final thoughts post. Thank you for the positive feedback on my last post and the good discussion as well.
First of all, let me get back to the match for a second. in the first set with Djokovic leading 5-2 and 40-15 on Stan’s serve, it looked for a while like he was running away with the match. If he takes one of those break points he wins the first set 6-2 and serves first in the second set.
But that’s where Djokovic poor break point conversion rate for the match of 3/17(17.7%) began. That is about the same break point conversion rate Federer had in last year’s final of 4/23(17.4%) although Federer had more chances.
It is very unusual for Djokovic to have that poor a break point conversion rate while it is normal for Federer. That is the first clue that Djokovic may not have been mentally as solid as he usual is. Someone commented that Djokovic lacked the ‘animal instinct’ after my last post and I have to agree with that.
Sure it’s harder to be positive when you are getting blown off the court but it was a close match after all with only a few points making the difference. The main reason for my thinking that Djokovic was not at his mental peak was the poor break point conversion rate.
He is normally very clinical in this area.
- Always Keep Your Perspective
I think I have given Stan enough praise for it not to look like I am trying to make excuses. I am happy for Stan and in many ways I think it is a good thing that he won.
You don’t want one guy to win everything. It is great for you as the fan of that player but it is selfish in terms of tennis as a whole. Imagine what it would have been like if Djokovic won the calendar slam and thereby completed six consecutive slams.
Me myself as a fan was getting bored of Djokovic’s dominance after the French Open. What would it have been like for people who were not a fan of Djokovic? It is always important not to be selfish and to remember that your player wouldn’t exist if it wasn’t for tennis.
So you can’t always just think of your player. You have to think about the health of the sport as a whole. And in terms of that, I think Murray and Stan’s recent runs have been great. I think it makes tennis healthy and interesting.
- Djokovic’s Run From the Beginning of 2015 Took Its Toll
Djokovic’s run from the beginning of 2015 until he won the French Open this year was the most dominant spell of tennis we have seen in the history of the sport. Here is what he did:
- Grand slam titles: 5/6
- World Tour Finals titles: 1/1
- Masters Series titles: 9/13
- ATP 500 titles: 1/3
- ATP 250 titles: 1/2
- Win-loss record: 126-9
That is an astonishing amount of tennis that included four consecutive slam titles which is something that hasn’t been done since 1969. Djokovic must be burned out after that or he is not human.
And the climax of this whole run was the French Open. That was the most important title for Djokovic of all of them and it was a tremendous challenge for him. The ultimate challenge until that point in his career.
It was a monster that he slew but it would inevitably come at a price. In hindsight, the calendar slam talk was ridiculous. It always is but somehow I fell for it this time. It was clear that Djokovic was a very burned out player at Wimbledon.
His next event was in Toronto where he won the title but it was hardly a sign that he was back to the peak of his powers given the absence of so many of the top players. At the Olympics, he lost first round again and then skipped Cincinnati.
This time, it was physical problems that kept him out. He was even in doubt for the US Open but decided to play. The universe conspired in his favor with the draw but I don’t think even that was enough to help him.
Djokovic won’t talk about it but I think he may well have a shoulder problem still because his serve seemed off, even before the final. Those double faults against Tsonga were strange and then in the final again as well as the low first serve percentage.
Add the physical and mental burnout for Djokovic together and all of a sudden the US Open final becomes another great result. To have beaten Stan Djokovic had to be at peak physical and mental condition and he simply wasn’t.
The margins are very small in a match like that and the struggle with the serve or the lack of killer instinct due to mental burnout can make all the difference. I think Djokovic will take until the beginning of next year to fully recover from his run since the beginning of 2015.
He has some more rest time now before the indoor season but the accumulated fatigue in mind and body takes a long time to go away. It is really not just the accumulated fatigue since the beginning of the year but since the beginning of last year.
So although I expect another good indoor season from Djokovic I think it will take until next year to fully reset and recover in mind and body.
- A Good Thing for the Overall Health of Men’s Tennis
So like I said I think things are working out just right. Djokovic is still easily the best and his number one ranking is not threatened but Murray and Stan have announced themselves as serious rivals and threats.
This is also good for the overall health of the sport. It works out for us Djokovic fans and for the other fans as well because for us Djokovic is not under serious threat while at the same time he is not dominating the sport in such a fashion that he is basically killing the sport.
I think he will be refreshed at the beginning of next year and be determined to win a 7th Australian Open which will probably establish him as the hard court GOAT. The Plexicushion is where he is most comfortable but Stan and Murray are both very effective there as well.
From here on he will look to win a couple of slams per year to surpass Federer’s record. It certainly won’t be an easy task but starting with an Australian Open title next year sure won’t hurt his case.
He will be well rested by then so he needs to make a statement at his best slam after Murray and Stan’s latest successes.