Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Novak for President

A little late, reporting-wise, but I'm not really a journalist and fans can be forgiven. On Sunday Novak Djokovic defeated Rafael Nadal in their third straight Grand Slam Final meeting, winning the Australian Open in what was the longest final in Grand Slam history. The score was 5-7, 6-4, 6-2, 6-7 (5-7), 7-5. 

Despite coming out strong, Rafa rallied, taking the first set and forcing Nole to up his game in the next two, which he did. Despite some big openings in the fourth set (0-40 opportunity for Nole to go up a break) Rafa forced the tiebreak and played the most outstanding, aggressive tennis I may have ever seen from him. He celebrated that set as if it were the match, and carried the momentum into the fifth, where he led by a break and seemed poised to run away with the match. But then on an easy short ball put away, Nadal hit it wide, breaking his momentum and giving Novak a chance to catch his breath and hang in. Which he did, falling back on his rock solid recent confidence to play his game and outlast the great Nadal, extending his winning record against Rafa and taking his 3rd Australian Open and 5th Grand Slam.

The two men put every ounce of physical energy they possessed into the match and could barely stand during the awards ceremony. I would not be surprised if they were still, three days later, receiving IV treatments to return their bodies to normal. It was a staggeringly impressive, well-fought battle that gave us a final the likes of which we've never seen.

Which is saying a lot, considering the last few years have given us Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, and Novak Djokovic's own emergence. These three men have changed the sport forever and refuse to be satisfied with record breaking. They are nearly inhuman in their pursuit of excellence, and the results are like manna for tennis fans.

All Novak has left, in terms of unachieved accomplishments, is winning the French Open and, looking way too far ahead, winning a true Golden Grand Slam (all 4 and the Olympics). And in order to truly believe he is French Open Champion he'd have to beat Rafa during the tournament, who is King of the red clay. But that's not for months yet. Which should be long enough for the both of them to recover.

Congratulations Nole.

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