Above you can view that return Djokovic hit when he was match points down against Roger in the US Open semis. Not that you will be able to see much. It is just a blur. It was completely unexpected and against the run of play. The more I think about what happened at the US Open the better I feel about it. Roger’s loss to Djokovic was one of the most painful ones, because he lost for the second consecutive year after being up match points to the same player in the same round. What are the odds of that happening? Everything about this result has the ring of ‘divine’ to it. Not just how it happened, but the consequences as well. We have already established that what happened was like lightning striking twice in the same place. Both the return that came from nowhere and the fact that pretty much exactly the same thing as last year happened is ‘divine’ enough.
Now lets look at the consequences. If Djokovic had not made that return and Roger had won the match, he would of course have faced Nadal in the final. Given the history of the rivalry, Nadal’s form, and the fact that the US Open courts have been slowed down this year, you’d have to say Nadal was 99% sure to have beaten Roger in the final. What would that have meant? It would mean Nadal won his 11th slam, closing in to within five slams of Roger’s record. It would mean Nadal had beaten Roger in every slam final, while Roger only beat him in the final of Wimbledon(’06, and ’07). It would also mean that Nadal was saved from facing his nemesis Djokovic in the final, which means he can beat his old whipping boy and get back the confidence which Djokovic had taken from him in his last five finals.
These are all weighty matters. If Nadal had won the US Open he would have been a renewed player. He would have bagged another hard court slam which his resume desperately needs for balance, and for the first time he would have defended a title off of clay. He would still have been on track to becoming the GOAT, while Roger’s legacy would have been seriously damaged by losing to Nadal in all the slam finals. It now seems highly unlikely that Nadal could become the GOAT, although of course I never count him out. All of these things make me wonder if what happened wasn’t some kind of divine intervention. Roger has always been the fairest of players while Nadal has been known to use gamesmanship. Nadal breaks rules like the time that is allowed between points, and he receives coaching from his uncle on court. He also uses questionable medical time outs which disrupts the rhythm of his opponents.
Then he also uses loud grunting and fist pumping to unnerve his opponents. He also plays a very unattractive and negative game style where he retrieves absolutely everything and hits moonballs, forcing his opponents into error. He just isn’t a pretty sight out there. And then I haven’t even mentioned the doping allegations that are out there. Did the Gods finally have enough of Nadal? If there are Gods then I would imagine they’d favor Roger. He plays fairly and gracefully. He doesn’t do any of the things on court that I mentioned for Nadal. He doesn’t waste time, he doesn’t receive coaching from the side, he hardly ever takes a medical time out, he hardly ever grunts, he doesn’t fist pump viciously, none of these things. He also plays a positive, attractive game which entertains people all over the world.
A divine act doesn’t necessarily imply something that brings great joy at the time. It could be something quite painful. But in hindsight it was always a blessing. I can’t help but feel like that return from Djokovic was a sort of divine intervention. The immediate consequences of it appeared to be disastrous. But in hindsight I can’t help but feel it was a great blessing. Losing to Nadal in the final would have been a lot more painful to me that the loss to Djokovic. Think about it. It would have been a huge blow to Roger’s GOAT status, having lost to his main rival in all the slam finals. And Nadal would have been in reach of chasing down his slam record. I now feel like this was almost the final nail in the coffin for Nadal’s hopes of becoming the GOAT. You just can’t count the guy out, but from here on it must be very difficult for him to become GOAT.
In life things aren’t always under our control. Roger could have started thinking of having to face his nemesis Nadal in yet another slam final, and the possibility of doing his legacy a lot of damage. But that would have shown a lack of trust in the Gods. Instead he focused on what is front of him and did his best to beat Djokovic. He left the rest up to ‘fate’. There is an important life lesson in this. You can’t always control your fate, but you can deal with the present moment as best you can and trust that all will be well. It is when your mind starts doubting and you start fretting about the future that things go wrong. Roger was a great example of surrender to the moment here and it all worked out well for him in the end. I believe things will all work out in the end for Roger and his fans because of his great attitude.