Djokovic finally broke his spell of losses in Masters Series finals this year when he beat Gael Monfils 6-2, 5-7, 7-6 in the Paris final today. Djokovic lost in four Masters Series finals this year, including Miami, Rome, Monte Carlo and Cincinnati. I won’t say the win in Paris was exactly convincing from Djokovic, but I guess what counts in the end is that he got the job done. It was hardly a high quality match, with neither player looking like they wanted the title. Djokovic started the match where he left off against Rafa, quickly going a set and 3-0 up. Monfils found the catalyst to come back into the match though, aided by the French crowd. I’m amazed by how much better French players play when they play in their home country.
On the other hand they are not good journeymen. They seem to do well when everything is easy for them. Monfils is no exception. He did all the hard work to get back into the match, but once he got into winning positions he was timid, at times playing nothing slices that sat up in the middle of the court, begging to be hit for a winner. Even though France has terrific depth in their tennis that most countries can only dream of, I think they have some of the mentally weakest players in the world. It’s no coincidence that their last major winner was Yannick Noah 26 years ago. I spent a lot of time playing tennis in France, and my explanation for their lack of major winners is the way they are brought up. The French are very spoiled when it comes to tennis.
They have tournaments on all levels in their countries, they have everything a player needs to become a pro right there in their country. They don’t seem to be good journeyman, because they are used to having it all in their own country. That also explains why the French get by far their best results in France. Other than that the French does not seem to have a champions instinct. When the going gets tough they usually crumble under the pressure. And we know in order to win majors there is no room for being mentally timid. Monfils could have won his first Masters Series event today, but when the moment of truth came he looked scared. Djokovic has similar problems, although to a lesser extent.
For me Djokovic is just too emotional. He often has emotional outbursts for no apparent reason, and he gets too emotional when he does something right. You don’t see that kind of cockiness from the likes of Roger and Rafa. They are more professional, and when it comes to the majors they deliver when it matters most. Clearly it takes special individuals to win grand slams, and I still have my doubts whether Djokovic will win more slams. I think he probably can, but whether he will is another story. He would have to be a little lucky the way he was in 2008 when he beat MonoFed in the semi’s of the Australian Open. To me Djokovic is just not a special individual. He is cocky and draws too much attention to himself.
I don’t care that he beat Roger in the final of Basel and on two other occasions this year. That is not what this is about. Roger still schooled Djokovic in straight sets when it really mattered in the semi’s of the US Open, as well as in Cincinnati. He still has a 8-5 head-to-head record against Djokovic, and a 4-1 record in majors. His only loss to Djokovic in a major was that one last year in Australia when he had mono. So I don’t see Djokovic as a threat to Roger when it really matters, not yet anyway. The same goes for Murray, I have seen nothing from Murray yet that convinces me that he is a threat to Roger in the majors. We all know Delpo can be a threat to Roger in the majors after this year’s US Open, but what role will injury play in Delpo’s career?
I like Delpo and wouldn’t like to see him struggle with injuries, but Roger will always be my favorite and I am not exactly going to complain if Roger has a chance at more majors because Delpo is struggling with injury. After all, one of the reasons Roger has done so well is exactly because he has stayed so healthy and injury free. Today’s final of the Paris Masters has of course concluded the regular tennis season, and in about a week’s time the top 8 in the world will square off in London to see who will be crowned world champion and year end number one. Djok0vic does look to be the favorite at this point, but I’m hoping Roger can get his act together and finish the year strongly. The first objective will be to secure the year end number one spot, and once he does that the pressure should be off, and maybe he can then relax enough to win a fifth Masters Cup.
Would be nice, wouldn’t it?