Djokovic signed off from the court, after his semi-final by saying that the final against Rafa was going to be physical. Though the words turned to be true, even he wouldn’t have foreseen the longest match at the Australian Open. A lot of credit is due to both the players. They played their hearts out. Not a single soul, who watched the match, would have demanded more. The quality of the service games, returns by Djokovic, trading of the forehands and the backhands. Everything about the match can be branded classic.
If we dissect the match, it was Djokovic who had the upper hand after losing the first set. After dominating the next two sets, it seemed that he was on his way to a win in four sets. Remember, these guys hadn’t played a five setter before this match. At 3-4, 0-40 up, he seemed to be just five points away from the championship. Rafa roared back into the match with an eclectic mix of serves, forehands and backhands. At that moment it seemed that if the match went into the fifth set, Nadal would run away with the match. For the first six games it appeared the same. Djokovic broke back Nadal immediately. There were a few shots of Nadal that clipped the top of the net in the fifth set. They proved to be crucial
Djokovic went primal after winning the match and nobody would blame him for that. He kept the mind and body synchronised at a time when both refuse to function in tandem. Nadal too did the same, but Djokovic did that little bit extra. His graciousness was seen at the presentation time. After acknowledging the cheers from the capacity crowd, he wished Rafa all the luck for the season. He seems to be in a zone, where nothing is beyond him. What will be good news for the tennis fans is the return to form of Nadal. Yes, he lost the match but showed a marked improvement from the last season. If the plethora of his fans are to be heard, he needs to advance further to receive the serve
It is a tough loss for Rafa however hard he will try to deny it. For a man who admits that he cries after energy-sapping losses, this will be one more addition. He always comes with renewed strength and vigour after the losses. He admitted to crying after the 2007 Wimbledon final and came back to win the 2008 Wimbledon. Nadal will certainly get better as the season progresses and might find a way around Djokovic.
It was easy for Djokovic, the previous year, to defeat Nadal. On the evidence of this match it is going to be slugfest through the entire season and the spectators will be richer for it.