Well it’s all over folks. The 2012 Australian Open is history and the pre tournament favorite was triumphant. But it was anything but a walk in the park. This must have been one of the hardest won slam titles in history. Ok so there have been players who played more sets during a title run, but Djokovi’c last four matches was all physically tough. The last two were especially tough. It was hard to believe that there could be a more grueling, dramatic match than the semi against Murray, but the final topped it. And by quite a margin. The Djokoray semi was 4 hours 50 minutes long while the final was 5 hours 53 minutes, the longest slam final in history. Roger said before the match that it could be an all time classic, and he was right as usual. He doesn’t often get it wrong, does he? This was without a doubt one of the most dramatic grand slam finals in history.
This was two ultimate warriors battling it out for a place in history. Doping or not, you have to respect the way these two were prepared to give their last breath for grand slam glory. There is not a shred of quitting or fear in either of these men. Djokovic started out slowly, spreading errors all over the place. Even though he came back from an early break he was broken again to drop the first set. You felt if Nadal was going to have a chance he had to win the first set. Djokovic seemed to be asleep in the first set. Maybe he was still tired from his semi-final with Murray, or maybe he was complacent. At the start of the second set Djokovic’s poor form continued and I was starting to get worried. Thankfully he soon got the break and took a 5-2 lead. However, Djokovic dropped serve at 5-3 when he served a double fault. NOT GOOD.
Nadal was back in the set. If he won the second set I am sure he would have won the match, so I was pretty disgusted that he dropped serve. Already the drama had started. Thank heavens Djokovic broke in the next game after a double fault from Nadal. Set all. In the third set Djokovic continued with his impressive play and got a break early on. He then broke Nadal to love at 5-2 with a cracking forehand winner up the line to win the third set. He would also start serving again in the fourth set. At this point it looked like Djokovic had this title in the bag. In the first set his first serve percentage was below 50% and he was upping it with every set. It looked like this would be another comfortable four set win for Djokovic over his favorite whipping boy. At 4-3 and 40-0 on Nadal’s serve Djokovic had a chance to break and seal the deal.
I thought it was all over, but incredibly Nadal fought back and held serve. Major moment in the match. Holding serve there gave Nadal a huge boost as was expected, while I felt Djokovic might have let the match slip away there. Nadal looked more and more threatening. Even so Djokovic still had a 5-3 lead in the fourth set breaker. But yet again Nadal would fight back and win it 7-5. Unreal. The momentum was now on Nadal’s side and I felt like he was the favorite to win the match. Djokovic looked tired and emotionally drained at the start of the fifth set. He really looked out of it, which was understandable. When Nadal got the break to take a 4-2 lead it looked like a done deal. I felt like Djokovic had lost the match in the fourth set when he had the 40-0 lead on Nadal’s serve. Nadal looked to be cruising home at 30-15 on his serve and an easy backhand down the line coming up.
He just had to steer the ball down the line and Djokovic would have no chance, but he steered it wide. That was another huge moment in the match because Djokovic went on to break back to make it 4-3. Djokovic had made another great escape. Nadal was still serving first however which gave him a slight advantage. There was still no telling who would win this match. Unreal tension. At 5-5 Djokovic somehow managed to get the break, to my huge delight. Surely this time he would hold serve, which he did. I breathed a huge sigh of relief. It was just unreal how Nadal kept fighting. I mean the guy simply does not know when he is beaten. This is an aspect of the game where he is on another level than Roger. To come back after six consecutive final defeats to Djokovic in this fashion was unbelievable. He has my respect for that.
In his presser after the match Nadal was actually optimistic about this defeat. And who can blame him? It was the same as the Djokoray match in the sense that it was a positive loss. Both Nadal and Murray should gain confidence from their losses because they left it all out there and lost to an incredibly clutch player. Djokovic deserves massive respect for winning this match after that five setter with Murray. It is once again that x factor I spoke of. He just finds a way to get the job done against some of the best opposition in history. This brings me to Roger. While the rest of the top four all left it all out there on the court, the same can’t be said for Roger. Every time he went a break up against Nadal he surrendered serve immediately. After he won the all important first set he all but disappeared in the second set. In the third set breaker which was a pivotal point in the match he went down 6-1 in double quick time.
In the fourth set when he had break points to get back into the match, Nadal made an incredible lob and Roger tamely steered the smash wide. This is not an attempt to bash Roger. It is simply pointing out reality. I never thought I’d say this, but even Murray may be stronger in the mental department than Roger these days. As for Djokovic and Nadal they are in a different league altogether. It is the easiest thing in the world to bring up the doping issue now. But to me that is just denial. It shows unwillingness to look reality in the eye, which is that Roger doesn’t measure up in the mental department. This blog has always been about the truth and that will never change. There is way too much talk about doping in my opinion. There is a time and place for everything. But when doping is used as a a cover up for the truth, it becomes destructive.
You know as well as me that Roger lets himself down against Nadal. The same can’t be said for Nadal when he plays Djokovic. Nadal lost six consecutive finals to Djokovic(five was maximum for Roger against Nadal), yet he still came back from being 0-40 down on his serve in the fourth set and almost won the match. The time has come to give Nadal his dues. I don’t like his on court personality. I even despise it. But he has something which Roger does not have: balls of steel. That is simply reality and there is no way around it. And I had enough of the doping issue. Djokovic is just as likely to dope as Nadal which means the playing field was even. There are no more excuses. If Roger ever wants to beat Nadal in a slam again, him and his fans have to face up to reality. Blaming it on doping will only make things worse.
Roger is very lucky here that Djokovic beat Nadal. If Nadal won he would be well on his way to taking down Roger’s slam record. He is lucky that Djokovic is around to protect his legacy. If Djokovic was not around Nadal would be on 13 slams now, and would track Roger’s record down in no time. Of course I am happy about this, but it is time to give Nadal his dues too. He has beaten Roger time and time again on the big stage simply because he has bigger balls. He is not nearly as talented as Roger, yet he finds a way to beat him time and time again. The Fedal rivalry is something with a long and complex history, and I am not here to criticize Roger about it. I am simply giving credit where it’s due after what I saw once again today. Roger needs to see a psychologist, or he will soon drop out of the top three.