Australian Open: Djokovic Claims his 3rd Oz Open Title

After a brutal five-set match that went 5 hours and 53 minutes, Djokovic defeated Nadal 5-7, 6-4, 6-2, 6-7, 7-5 for his fifth Grand Slam title.  Djokovic is now a 3-time winner at the Oz Open, which accounts for over half of his Grand Slam trophy haul.  In the history books, Fed will be listed as the king of Wimby and Rafa the king at Roland Garros.  The US Open has a long historic tradition of its own.  Perhaps it’s only fitting that the decidedly modern Oz Open is where Djokovic is staking his claim (though at this time, he still fall short of Fed’s 4 titles at the Oz Open).

Photo: Reuters

As a sign of the changing times, Novak introduces novel celebration methods, including tearing off his shirt and beckoning the crowd to cheer for him.  Whether or not you approve of said behavior (I do not), it should not detract from the incredible tennis he played and his mental strengths.  He’s different, for better and worse.

Photo: Getty Images

The marks of the 6-hour battle showed on both players’ faces and body posture.  Rafa had to sit on the net during the awards ceremony — that’s how fatigued he was.  Both players appeared to be cramping, at which point a tournament official finally brought out chairs for the two finalists to be seated during the ceremony.

Photo: Getty Images

Both players put on an impressive display of grit and fitness that wore each other down.  While detractors may point to the lack of variety (or rather, the lack of net play) at this final, that should not take away from the hearty fight both players brought to the match.

It wasn’t always a pretty match — there were a series of errors at the start, combined with nervous errors from both.  In the 2nd set, Novak gave up BP on a double-fault.  In the next game, Rafa gave up BP and the 2nd set on a DF.  Novak served for the championship in the 4th set, only to be broken by Rafa, who forced and won the TB (after going up a mini-break, only to be mini-broken-back, but then winning the TB/4th set anyway).  The 5th set was destined to be a tense, dramatic affair.

In terms of drama and emotions, this final easily eclipsed all other matches at this year’s Oz Open.  It’s easily among the top 5 matches Rafa has played in his career.  Same for Novak too.  Rafa will rue his missed chances, especially with his mistake on the passing shot when he was up 4-2 in the 5th set.  On the bright side, Rafa gave Novak a full fight in this match.  While Rafa did look lost at times — making shot selections and missing overhead smashes that revealed his mental state (how many times have we seen that before in other players?) — he also had the presence of mind to stop the bleeding of points.  If it’s any consolation, it was as close a finish as Rafa could have hoped for.

Much in the same way that Murray’s defeat to Novak didn’t seem soul-crushing, Rafa’s loss to Novak still leaves room for hope that he will eventually overturn his recent 0-7 win-loss record to Novak (the overall record still stands at 16-14).  Both players will take a deserved break from tennis after the Oz Open.  It’s still only January — there’s plenty of tennis to be played this year.

If there’s one trend that only reinforced itself at this Oz Open, it’s the gap between the top 4 players and the rest.  Despite Murray’s fabled shortcomings against Fed/Rafa/Djokovic, he is still a cut above the others.  Outside of the top 4, I’m hard-pressed to think of one player who could seriously challenge the top 4.  As much as that displeases me, it seems to be the accurate description.  Hopefully, this won’t be the case for the rest of the year.

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About mariposaxprs

I play favorites with Juan Martin Del Potro, Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer, David Ferrer, Feliciano Lopez, Gilles Simon and the long line of mercurial talent that drives me to despair in front of the screen at odd hours during the week.
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20 Responses to Australian Open: Djokovic Claims his 3rd Oz Open Title

  1. Arienna Lee says:

    That photo with Novak in the light and Rafa in the dark, looking down at his water bottle, is almost too much for me to look at. The sadness.

    • Arienna Lee says:

      Of course, the top photo is almost too much to stand looking at too. But in a different way. 😉

      • mariposaxprs says:

        Oh — I never noticed the contrast in light on Novak and Rafa’s faces. It’s not a very flattering light though 😉 I’m sure if Rafa had to choose, he’d have preferred being photographed in the dark. The ceremony was long and I’d never seen two finalists at pains to stand after such a long match. Sadness, but it will get better! All signs point to good for Rafa.

  2. queridorafa says:

    Great write-up! The gap b/t the top 4 and the others disappoints me a little, to be honest–when guys like Almagro and Tipsarevic are in the top 10/close to it, I kind of doubt the depth of the game a bit. The only player who comes to mind as a potential challenger right now is Berdych–he played very well against Rafa overall, and if he starts finding his serve (and confidence) again, I think he can compete with the top 4. Also, there is DelPo, of course. 😉 (How would DelPo like to become to Novak what Rafa was/is to Roger?? Sounds fun, right??!!)

    • I would love if Del Po did that, let’s mix it up! And how can you not love Del Po?

      • mariposaxprs says:

        Exactly!!! 🙂 I think there are Blaz Kavcic fans who don’t like DelPo. But that’s from last year at Roland Garros, when DelPo was momentarily angry when Kavcic tagged him at the net. Still, DelPo shook Kavcic’s hand and they shared friendly words with each other after the match ended.

    • Arienna Lee says:

      Loads of fun for Delpo. Someone should tell him about it, he probably just needs the suggestion!

      Could he hit through that defense, do you think?

      • mariposaxprs says:

        It’d be tough to hit through the Novak wall. To that end, DelPo needs to work on his groundstrokes and put his BH to better use. The serve is the biggest area where he could hurt Novak, although since Novak is such a good returner, the placement and % are super-important. Yet the serve is a tricky monster to control. We’ll have to see if DelPo’s training yields better results in the near future..

    • mariposaxprs says:

      That’s what I’m thinking right now. I think Almagro and Tipsy aren’t going to be too much of a threat (unless Nico showed up at Roland Garros and used that confidence to boost his ranking further). Berdy could do well, but it’s difficult to predict anything with him. As for DelPo, he needs to beat players like Berdy, Tsonga, Monfils and Ferrer before he’s ready to challenge the top 4. So each one in the top 15 has his work cut out. It could definitely happen, but right now, it seems tough.

  3. Iram says:

    oh my goodness, did anyone expect such a long match? It was absolutely thrilling! It’s a shame there couldn’t be two winners- both deserved to win.

    I am happy about Rafa never giving up. Nole looked so tired in the 5th set, and somehow he managed to pull through.

    My heart really went out to them during the trophy ceremony. Both were so tired…they couldn’t even stand…someone actually brought them chairs! Rafa was truly gracious in his finalist acceptance speech- and that he always is!

    Do u really think Ferru can’t threaten the top 4? How bout Delpo? BTW, I wonder if Soderling will ever come back! One thing you say is right… there is a CLEAR gap between the top four and all the others in the top ten!

    I hope Rafa and Nole will sleep and relax the next couple of days. I hope they get their well deserved massages too. 🙂

    Thanks for a terriffic post. Enjoy ur week.

    • Iram says:

      one more thing, i seem to have forgotten ur tumblr site. if u dont mind can u post it here? I wanted to see it again

      • mariposaxprs says:

        Hey, my tumblr site is http://mariposaxprs.tumblr.com

        (I haven’t updated with photos of the final yet, but will soon reblog the photos that I find!) By the way, do you have a tumblr site too?

        • Iram says:

          i dont have a tumblr account. and honestly i dont think i could keep up with it. i have a three year old girl and I’m running around after her all day. That’s why I barely write about 2 posts on my own blog weekly.

          but i’ll look at ur tumblr site every now and then. sometimes it’s fun to just look at cute guys (hint **please post pics of hunks 🙂 ) honestly, I enjoy wordpress more as well.

          • mariposaxprs says:

            Nice, it must be tough but rewarding work to chase after a 3-year old girl! Maybe you can pass on your knowledge of the Spanish Davis Cup team to your daughter when she is a little bit older? That way the Armada fan base keeps expanding! 🙂

            I will keep in mind your request for hunks 😉 Most of the time, I reblog other people’s photos that catch my eye — with the upcoming Davis Cup tie, I will keep an eye out for the Armada. If there is a special player you feel deserves more attention, feel free to ask and I may try to search for them!

    • mariposaxprs says:

      Thanks, Iram! The final definitely did deliver in terms of the roller-coaster drama. I didn’t think either player could run around the court for nearly six hours. That’s the first time I’ve seen both players not able to stand up during the trophy ceremony.

      For now, I think the top 4 players are definitely a cut above the rest, although each player has his vulnerabilities. I think Fed is more prone to inconsistency these days, so an outsider could potentially upset him in the future. I’m not sure if Ferru could threaten the top 4. Skill-wise, he is definitely capable of it, but I think he sometimes suffers from lack of confidence. Also, the top 4 are physically stronger, which makes it more difficult for Ferru. As for DelPo, I think he needs to learn how to beat players like Ferru and Tsonga before he is a threat to the top 4.

      That was an exhausting final, for both the players and fans! Both players definitely deserve their rest now. Us fans do too! 😛

    • I too am very happy about yesterday’s final. So hard fought, so exciting, almost too exciting. (I believe I suggested toward the end that we just shoot them both and be done with it. My fault, couldn’t take the stress of the fifth set.)

      • mariposaxprs says:

        Yes, or a contest of “Which player has the better TV ad?” should have settled the final. Rafa would have won, hands down, as Novak does not yet appear in TV ads. It was definitely a memorable final, even if I didn’t like the result. I also think it gave somewhat of a confidence boost to Rafa, so his next matches leave much to look forward to!

    • I’m hopeful for Del Po, but not sure. I’d love it if he did become a force, but the gap between the top four and the rest is so clear. It’s truly scary.

      • mariposaxprs says:

        Yea, the Oz Open definitely boiled down to a top 4 contest. I’m hoping the clay season brings some change. While Murray has improved on clay, I think that’s a surface where an outsider might be more inclined to take advantage and perhaps make a surprise appearance in the SF. Also, the quick surface of grass can lead to surprise upsets as well. I hope there is some sort of shake-up, b/c as impressive as the top 4 players are, some of the match-ups aren’t always exciting to watch (eg. Novandy is basically a fitness marathon).

    • Arienna Lee says:

      Yes, Iram, both deserved to win. If only!

      Wouldn’t it be lovely if Ferru could take a title from Novak? I would like that *almost* as much as Rafa swiping the next couple slams off him. 🙂

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