Where do I begin? I can write 10 e-books about this result probably so this will basically be a summary. Congrats to the Djoker!!!!!! I am incredibly proud to call myself a fan today because of the immense composure Djokovic showed against a disgraceful crowd to win his 10th grand slam title. The stakes in this match were ridiculously high and the crowd was constantly shouting out when Djokovic was serving and cheering against him. It was classless behaviour as you would expect from the pro-Federer crowd but Djokovic kept his head down and heroically found a way and shut the crowd up. With everything that was at stake, the quality of the match was quite low compared to the Wimbledon final. But the scoreline was very similar and so was the pattern of play. Federer was the aggressor while Djokovic made his life hell.
Opening Set: 6-4 Djokovic
There was a three-hour delay to the start of the match due to rain which was highly frustrating and thank God this will be the last year without a roof at this cursed slam. It wasn’t the worst thing in the world from a Djoker fan perspective because the rain would slow down things and help him, but it also meant it was going to be a night match where Federer is at his best. When the players finally came out the very first game of this match showed that Federer was up against something entirely different than the rest of the losers he faced who folded like cheap tents. It set the tone for the match. The game went to several deuces before Federer finally held serve. Djokovic responded with a love service hold of his own. Another big statement. In Federer’s next service game, Djokovic already made his move. He did what I mentioned in my previous post which was to be aggressive and put Federer under pressure right off the bat when he hit a very aggressive forehand winner to go up 30-0. Federer saved the first break point at 15-40 but Djokovic took the second break point after an extended baseline rally for the break. That was obviously huge to set the tone for the match but in the next game Djokovic had a very bad fall after changing direction and slipping.
It was a bit of a scary moment but thankfully nothing serious apart from Djokovic leaving about half of his skin on the court. Not surprisingly that shook him up a bit and he dropped serve right away and then Federer held serve to love. Another big moment. Djokovic steadied himself in the next game though with a service hold to 15. And in the next service game he was at it again, breaking Federer with a precision backhand pass after trailing 0-30. Right back on top. In the next service game, Djokovic faced another break point but finally consolidated for 5-3. Federer held serve after going to deuce again and at 5-4 Djokovic held serve to love to win the all-important first set 6-4. From here on you liked Djokovic’s chances. It was absolutely imperative for Federer to make a strong start and not allow Djokovic to drag the match out, but as usual Djokovic proved he is Federer’s master in the big matches. The hype around Federer was immense as usual going into this final. Craig O’Shannessy, the lead analyst for the ATP Tour and many other big organisations listed 15 reasons why Federer is the favourite. Federer defeated Djokovic in Cincy, he didn’t lose a set up to the finals, the surface suits his attacking game, blah blah blah. It only took one set for these people to realize what a big mistake they made once again to jump on the Federer bandwagon.
Second Set: 7-5 Federer
Before I continue I have to bring up Luke Jensen who was the commentator for the ESPN broadcast here in South Africa who was an absolute disaster. His Federer bias and worship was so disturbing and evident that I had to switch off the sound for most of the match. But it is ESPN the worst tennis channel in the world after all so I guess that was not all that surprising. Back to the match.
The second set was a close affair and it was imperative for Federer to win it to stand any chance in the match. To his advantage, he served first which meant scoreboard pressure for Djokovic. At 5-4 and 30-30 on the Djokovic serve, Federer was once again piling on the pressure when he attacked the net with an aggressive backhand. Djokovic threw up a defensive backhand, but Federer went straight back to Djokovic who ripped the backhand straight at him forcing him into error. The Djoker erupted with a celebration that was just delicious to see. That game turned into a monumental struggle with Federer holding I don’t know how many set points. When Djokovic held serve to level at 5-5 it felt like another big moment. But with Djokovic serving at 5-6 and under more scoreboard pressure Federer brought up two more set points and finally took the second one. All squared.
Third Set: 6-4 Djokovic
I think in the first game of the second set Djokovic was threatening the Federer serve again but failed to break, and in the second game at 15-15 Federer began again with the SABR. He tried it several times in the match but this time Djokovic was up to the task. In some cases, it paid off but overall it failed so I now call it the FABR(Failed Attack By Roger). That said, I wasn’t overly convinced with the way Djokovic handled it. The one he did at 15-15 sat up waiting for Djokovic to drill it straight into the sitting duck at the net but he went for the pass and missed badly. Federer did it again on the very next point but this time Djokovic embarrassed Federer who couldn’t keep up with the pace of shot from Djokovic. Same as in the opening set, Djokovic broke serve in the third game. Ajde! But same as in the first set as well Federer broke straight back in the next game. Fuck! This match was beginning to wear on me. The tension was already unbearable. Djokovic appeared to be unbelievably nervous as well. Probably the crowd had a lot to do with that as well but since I had to silence Jensen I didn’t know at the time just how much the crowd was getting involved. And then of course there was an awful lot at stake so I can’t blame him really. As a fan, this was by far the most nervous I’ve ever been before a tennis match.
The tension was already sky high before the first ball was struck so I can’t imagine what the players must have felt. At 3-4 Djokovic squandered a 40-0 lead on his serve and faced several break points. This was not the Djokovic I knew. This was the old Djokovic who choked when things got tough. But somehow he found a way to hold onto his serve in which was probably the most important game of the match. There were several games that took ages to complete and which was absolutely nerve-wracking and this was certainly one of them. If Federer held his nerve and broke serve there he would probably have won the third set and been in a very strong position. But he didn’t. He choked. The same way he choked against Nadal in the 2009 Australian Open final in the third set when he had Nadal at his mercy. And since Djokovic is a killer like Nadal he came back from 15-40 in Federer’s next service game to break. You don’t give Djokovic second chances. He smells blood like a shark and rips you to shreds. Federer was still fighting hard but Djokovic held serve to win the third set and now the writing was all but on the wall. Could Federer come back from two sets to love down against Djokovic at age 34? It seemed unlikely.
Deciding Set: 6-4 Djokovic
Djokovic seemed more relaxed at the start of the fourth set as he broke Federer’s opening service game. He was still far from making things easy on himself, though. He was still struggling mightily on his own service game while he allowed Federer way too many easy service games. But I guess this is truer for the entire match. There wasn’t anything clinical about this performance and it was the hardest tennis match I ever had to watch. He also missed some ridiculously easy shots, while at the same times making some ridiculously difficult ones. In particular at 1-0 in the second set when Federer was trying to intimidate with the SABR again. He lobbed Federer consecutively for clean winners which were just delicious to see. At 4-2 and 30-40 on Federer’s serve came one of the points of the match which ended in Federer shanking an overhead into the crowd after another superb lob from Djokovic.
Djokovic then went on to get the double break in that game with a scorching return winner and another bruising celebration. But he was still intent on making things as hard for himself as possible. He lost the first break but to Federer’s credit he played some unbelievable tennis as well. Then at 5-4 came the moment of truth and in no time Djokovic was down 15-40 again. This was too much to bare.
A scenario where Federer came from two sets to one and two breaks down to win and break Djokovic’s heart flashed into my mind and the next couple of points were unwatchable. Djokovic somehow got back to deuce but faced another break point. When he finally held serve and won the match the relief was overwhelming. Djokovic had already lost four US Open finals and had he lost this one it would have been too much to bare as a fan.
As far as the match stats go this match was incredibly close with Djokovic winning only two more points than Federer(147-145). I’m not surprised by that stat given how much pressure Djokovic faced on his own service games and how he didn’t put enough pressure on Federer’s service games. The big difference was in the break points converted which was 6/13 for Djokovic and 4/23 for Federer. Again, it comes down to the big points where Djokovic is just a far superior player to Federer. Federer has been known to have limitations in the mental department for a long time and this was just more proof of that. He just is not as clutch as Djokovic and Nadal. Even with the entire crowd behind him and Djokovic trying awfully hard to choke the match away Federer could not take advantage. Yet another blow to his GOAT claim. He is already owned by his main rival Nadal and now Djokovic is 3-1 against him in slam finals and 8-6 in slams. The head-to-head is all squared again at 21-21, but you figure Djokovic would end with a winning record against him as well. It’s difficult to proclaim someone the GOAT when they are basically owned by their main competition.
Djokovic is 7-2 in their last 9 slam meetings and 3-0 in their last three slam finals. The rivalry is getting close to ownage levels and it will only get worse for Federer if he keeps playing. That is just the price he pays for so desperately wanting to win #18. Retiring after 2012 all of a sudden doesn’t sound like such a bad idea, but who knows. He is still playing very well at his age. In fact, we have been assured by him and many others that he is playing the best tennis of his career. So I don’t think there should be any doubt anymore that Djokovic is better than Federer in terms of the matchup at least. I also think that if Djokovic wins the French and reaches 15 slams he would be the GOAT. He has all the credentials, but he doesn’t have the flaw in his resume that his main rivals got the better of him. He will rack up many more weeks at number one and already broke Federer’s record for most ranking points in 2006. He has already secured a fourth year-end number one and he will surely win the World Tour Finals as well, and will probably break the record there too. With this title, he also chalks up a second three-slam year and was only one match away from the calendar slam. Unreal. He is even topping his record-breaking 2011 season. The guy is an absolute beast. I’m not counting out the Djoker slam either.
He will be a big favorite in Melbourne again next year and everything will go into completing the career slam in Paris now. That is the big one and, of course, no one has won four consecutive slams in the open era after Laver won the calendar slam in 1969. If Djokovic wins the Djokovic-slam next year he would have a GOAT claim already, but I won’t get ahead of myself. It is just something interesting to think about. At this point, Djokovic still has a long way to go to be called the GOAT but for the first time it has become a very real possibility. He came up in the toughest era with Fedal in their primes and he has now taken over the mantel all by himself. He is not even allowing Murray at the table anymore. Something I realized as well is that Djokovic is a kind of perfect hybrid of Fedal. Whether that is because he came up in their era is debatable. What I mean is that he has the ideal combination of talent and mental strength. A combination of Fedal’s strengths but without their weaknesses. None of Federer’s mental flaws and none of Nadal’s lack of talent. In this way, he is even more complete than Fedal and you could argue the perfect player. That is just what happens when you come up in the brutal era of two GOATs I guess.
To the Balanced Fedfans
When I say balanced Fedfans it’s nothing mysterious. I’m simply referring to the Fedfans who can appreciate Djokovic as a person and a player, even though Federer may be your favorite player. Djokovic showed great class again in the post-match interview by how he praised Federer in spite of the crowd’s behavior. There were no bitterness or grudges from him despite how the crowd and Federer mistreated him over the years. The way I see it this is just karma for Federer who always had a dismissive and arrogant attitude towards Djokovic. Same with the crowd. They have been thoroughly owned by the better player and human being. That said, to the more balanced Fedfans I want to say you can be proud of the way Federer is still playing at age 34 and for the fight he once again put up against Djokovic. You can’t ask for more at his age.
I’m sorry that your player lost, but only greedy Fedfanatics would be devastated by this loss. If you can’t be satisfied with 17 slams, especially with the way Nadal has declined, you are not a true tennis fan. I know the balanced Fedfans don’t demand another slam and to those fans I just want to show my sympathy and congratulate on how well Federer is still playing at his age. I’m amazed by how he is still playing. I thought he had a very real shot of winning this too. Since Cincy, he has been serving up a storm and playing unbelievable attacking tennis. I thought the SABR could in the end make the difference, but it failed. Djokovic was up to the challenge. I just think it is amazing that Federer at age 34 has made the last two slam finals. On faster courts, he is still pretty much destroying everyone but Djokovic. If it wasn’t for Djokovic he would clearly have won more slams but with Djokovic around it will be very difficult.
The US Open as a Major Event
I just have to say something about this slam before they will finally have the roof finished next year. I don’t like to criticize, but I have to express my disappointment in this slam in general. There have been too much wrong with it over the years. I think since 2008 the final had rained out every year but once and caused a lot of frustration among fans. Not to mention that terrible Super Saturday which was all about the money. Sorry to say but that is a typical superficial and materialistic American mentality which is all about the cash and not about taking everyone into account. Fortunately, it was canceled in 2013. And fortunately, next year the US Open will have a roof at long last. And again the reason it took so long was because Americans have to make everything big and elaborate which meant that Arthur Ashe stadium was so big that building a roof was too expensive for a long time. The only other slam that did not have a roof for such a long time is the French Open, which together with the US Open are the most disappointing slams. And like the French Open, the US Open has disrespectful hooligan crowds. At the US Open, it once again has a lot to do with the size of the stadium. There have broken fights out in the upper reaches of the stadium and there are plenty of drunk people.
It’s just a disappointing slam on so many levels, but I am delighted that Djokovic braved the uncivilized crowd and won. He has had difficulty with that crowd since that Roddick incident where he owned Roddick after Roddick insulted him in the media. Like the French, this has not been a great slam for him but yesterday he set the record straight once and for all. No one can ever take that away from him. Now for contrast, think of how well-behaved the crowds are in Melbourne and Wimbledon and think of how well-organized they are. Never frustrating rain interruptions, no disgusting crowds, no bad organization, and no pathetic tennis sports channel like ESPN with incompetent and unprofessional fanboy commentators like Luke Jensen. Sorry for the rant but I had to get that off my chest. Let’s move on.
The Prediction Game
The winners for the final round are Nakul and Davikia who both predicted Djokovic in four sets but got the order wrong so 6 points for each. Congrats. And the winner of the last slam of the year is…..the one…the only…GOAT predictor…Nakul! Congrats on your first slam! Nakul came second at Wimbledon as well so for now I think it is fair to give him the #1 ranking. Well played mate! That concludes our prediction game for this event and I will keep the results on my blog until the next event as usual. Thanks for playing and well done to you all. That’s it from me for now although I will probably be back with a follow-up as usual.