Well there it is folks. It went to three sets but in the end Djokovic was just too strong as expected as he triumphed 7-6(3), 4-6, 6-0. It wasn’t always pretty but the Djoker fought through a first and second set onslaught from Murray as well as the extreme heat to complete a third perfect North-American hard court swing. And I don’t think there are many people left who would contest the fact that he is now the best slow hard court player in history. He already got the record for most Australian Open titles this year. After that he equaled Roger for most Indian Wells titles at four. And now he has done the Indian Wells/Miami double for a record third time after winning a fifth Miami title, one behind Agassi’s record and three ahead of Roger who has two Miami titles.
He also has three Canada Masters titles. So I think it is safe to say the numbers are on his side. Another interesting stat is that Djokovic tied Roger for hard court Masters won at 17. At least Roger is still quite a distance in front as far as overall hard court numbers go. The big differences are in the amount of US Open(5-1) and World Tour Finals(6-4) titles won. So Djokovic have some distance to go to catch Roger in hard court slams won(9-6) and World Tour Finals titles. But you won’t put it completely beyond him. For me Roger will always be the best fast hard court player anyway because even at 33 he is still schooling Djokovic on fast hard. These days there just aren’t many fast hard courts around.
It was a good final
Even the World Tour Finals has become a joke. But by the same token I think it is fair to call Djokovic the best ever on slow hard. His movement and base line consistency just makes him almost unplayable on the surface. Not to mention his returns and serve. I think it is also fair to say that Djokovic has benefited from the slow surface era, although not as much as Nadal. Lets not forget that Djokovic beat Roger in the 2007 Canada Masters final when Roger was still in his prime and the courts were still pretty fast if I’m not mistaken. Djokovic is a more attacking player than Nadal and can adapt better to faster surfaces. His returns are lethal on any court and his serve has become a serious weapon too.
In fact with his improved serve he may now be better adapted to fast surfaces than ever. With two Wimbledon titles he will be a serious threat at the All England Club for some time to come. I don’t see any improvement in his net game under Becker but it is good enough for the current conditions at Wimbledon. But more than anything Djokovic probably now desires a French Open title. That is the missing piece of the puzzle now and after another Indian Wells/Miami double he must be brimming with confidence. After getting it so badly wrong last year I won’t be making any predictions this year that’s for sure. But surely Djokovic has as good a chance as anyone at winning the title.
Even if it means someone else has to take Nadal out to open his path. And an early exit like in 2009 is not inconceivable this year. Someone like Nishikori, Stan, or Dolgopolov can surely upset Nadal on a good day, given Nadal’s recent fragility. But yeah lets not speculate about that too much because knowing Nadal he will just go ahead and win his 10th French Open. I didn’t say much about today’s final yet. Murray put up an admirable fight but as expected Djokovic just won the key points because he is mentally better. Djokovic clearly got flustered as he lashed out at the crowd and a ball boy, but as usual he found a way to get the job done. And although he showed poor sportsmanship I do admire how he just finds a way to win.
Since Indian Wells he got pushed to three sets four times and the best score in the third was 6-2 by Roger. The rest were all bakery products, including two bagels against Dolgopolov and Murray. Just to push him to three sets takes an immense effort, and the opponent can never keep it up in the third. And you gotta admire how Roger at the age of 33 still provided Djokovic with the sternest opposition. To know that you only have to remember Djokovic’s body language in the Indian Wells final. So I am proud of Roger for proving even on slow hard court that he is still the second best player behind Djokovic in the world. Well this coming week Roger will be training with Thiem for Monte Carlo of course and then it’s time for the clay court season.
Update: As usual the ball boy incident was much ado about nothing and just an opportunity for the haters to descend upon Djokovic and judge and criticize as much as possible. Djokovic was shouting at his camp and the ball boy got in the way. Given the good sport he is, he even made a public apology.