Hello, tennis fans. As usual I am back with my customary post grand slam post. There always come out new and interesting things from a slam final and one post is not enough to write about it all. I also like to do a post that kind of sums up the tournament as a whole. And finally, I don’t want it to be over that quickly. The slams are always special and the most exciting thing for tennis fans, when there is the most activity on my blog and there is a kind of lull when it’s over so I’d like to extend it a bit longer with another post(or two).
- Additional Thoughts on the Final, Djokovic, and Federer
The final didn’t deliver the drama of last year’s final but the quality of tennis was higher. Both Djokovic and Federer are better players now than they were one year ago. Federer adjusted better to his new equipment and playing style while Djokovic improved his offense with the help of Becker. Federer played his peak level against Murray, but it turned out to be one match too early. When I first heard Djokovic had recruited Becker to coach him I thought it was ideal for him.
Why? Because I had noticed that Djokovic was not effective enough at finishing points, even back in 2011-12 when he had that 7-match winning streak against Nadal. And it came back to haunt him as Nadal managed to turn the head-to-head around again due to that flaw in Djokovic’s game. To the points that I thought Nadal broke Djokovic mentally in the 2013 French Open semi-final and that he would never win a slam again. But then at the end of 2013(if I recall correctly) Djokovic decided to hire Becker.
My first thoughts were that it was perfect because Becker would help his volleys and ability to finish points which were his problem against Nadal. At first I didn’t see any improvement in Djokovic’s net game and of course he even lost at his favorite Australian Open in 2014. At the French Open that year he also lost in his third consecutive slam final. Things weren’t looking good for him and Becker. But then of course he came good at Wimbledon and broke the slam final curse.
He also won the Australian Open this year and now Wimbledon. And this year especially it has become clear that his offense has improved, but not only his net play but also his serve and baseline game. Throughout Wimbledon this year his serve was good but not amazing. In the final it just exploded where he used it to save breakpoints and win free points. He is now much more safe overhead and a very competent volleyer. And importantly he also plays aggressive from the baseline.
He has always been great at turning defense into offense, but now he makes it count more. He rips the forehand and uses it to finish points better. He will never be the offensive player Federer is, but he doesn’t have to be because his defense is so much better. He is now better adapted than Federer for the current era of tennis with powerful racquets, string technology, and slower conditions. I always thought Federer was the perfect player, but Djokovic is redefining perfection in this era.
He has a much better backhand and returns than Federer too. It’s very hard to call Federer’s backhand a weakness but in the current era it is not ideal and can be exposed, by none more so than Nadal. Then there is also the question of Federer’s mental fortitude and fighting abilities. He is mentally very good but not as good as Djokovic and Nadal, as his five-set record compared to Djokovic and Nadal illustrates. He has the ability to choke and he doesn’t fight as hard as those two.
- Where Does Djokovic Go From Here?
Is Djokovic more complete than Federer even? I would say for the current era yes. Especially with the recent improvements in his game it is hard to find any flaws at all in his game. He isn’t as good a server or volleyer as Federer, but he has a better backhand and returns than Federer. I said before the final that Federer would win because on faster courts his superior offensive game favors him. But Djokovic showed he has great offense himself and the depth of his groundstrokes is just incredible.
That made it awfully difficult for Federer to dominate proceedings and forced him into unforced errors. Djokovic’s ability to paint lines from the baseline is one of his most extraordinary abilities. And he doesn’t just do it on any point. He does it under immense pressure. His accuracy and feel for the tennis ball is unreal. Take for instance that return he made at 5-3 and 30-15 in the fourth set. Smack bang on the baseline for a winner from a Federer first serve. BOOM.
That’s why I say it was probably the highest level of tennis I have ever seen. There is something supernatural about it. Where does Djokovic go from here? I am always hesitant to join the hype after someone won a slam but obviously winning Wimbledon doesn’t hurt Djokovic’s chances to win more slams. The French Open loss was a setback and had he lost in the Wimbledon final too things would have looked kind of bleak. But he still looks extremely dominant.
This is why I feel he is the legitimate successor of Federer. Unlike Nadal, he has shown he is a true #1 and can dominate for extended periods. He can also dominate all surfaces while Nadal is a glorified clay-court specialist. Djokovic is also a much better offensive player than Nadal, especially with an improved serve and net game. I have already said he is my favorite for the US Open, but nothing is guaranteed so I won’t believe any more hype before he wins another US Open.
Then he will be on double digits for slams and chalk up another three slam titles year. If he achieves that then we can start asking questions about him catching Nadal or Federer even. He is already 28 so I don’t join Wilander-type hype that says he can win 8-10 more slams. Wilander is being extremely obvious in saying things to create hype and getting people involved. If Djokovic wins the US Open, the Australian Open, and the French Open next year, thereby completing the Djokovic slam and the career slam, then I will start thinking about it.
If he does that he would have done something even Fedal could not do and there would be a reason to believe he can do more extraordinary things. But that is highly unlikely with someone like Stan around for one, who can catch fire and blast everyone off the court over two weeks. There is a reason, not even Fedal could do it and I’m 99% sure it is not happening for Dokovic. Probably he will not even win the US Open this year but we will see. He does look very dominant and at his best no one can beat him bar Stan perhaps.
Where Does Federer Go From Here?
(To be continued…)
Ps. Check out Matt’s post too. Another good one!
The is in your court.