Djokovic Wins 6th Australian Open and 11th Slam to Tie Laver, Borg, Emerson

It was inevitable. Who was going to stop the slow hardcourt GOAT(and likely soon to be hardcourt GOAT) on Plexicushion in the prime of his career? That’s correct, no one. Djokovic was the overwhelming favorite to win a third consecutive slam in Melbourne before the tournament began.

Anyone who had a little bit of tennis knowledge and wasn’t biased beyond belief knew it. With his 6-1, 7-5, 7-6(3) victory over Murray today he proved once again that he reigns supreme Down Under and that he is going to be awfully hard to stop there over the coming years.

I overslept and joined the match when Djokovic was a break up in the second set only to get broken right back. Well, Djokovic didn’t waste any time getting that all important first set under his belt, did he? He couldn’t have made a more ideal start.

When I joined the match Murray was playing well though and doing everything in his power to square things up at a set all. He was being very aggressive, not only in his game but in his body language as well. It appeared to me like he was trying to intimidate the Djoker.

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I like how calm Djokovic stays in those moments. While Murray is grunting on every shot and seems to be making a huge physical effort Djokovic hardly even grunts himself and every time he wins a big point he makes sure to let Murray know it with a loud ‘Come on!’.

He really owns Murray big time in the mental department. Murray, to the contrary, kept ‘giving the business to his box‘ broadcasting his frustrations to his opponent and everyone else. I honestly don’t think he can help himself.

He needs Lendl in his box for whom he has too much respect to ‘give the business to’. Clearly Mauresmo has no effect on him in that regard. After Murray had broken back at 3-4 both players held serve and at 5-5 and 40-15 Murray had two game points on his serve.

Djokovic just wouldn’t let him go though as he won the next four points with more baseline mastery to break Murray. That was another key passage of play there after Djokovic breadsticked Murray in the opening set.

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With Djokovic serving for the set then at 6-5 and 30-15, something strange happened when Djokovic served two consecutive double faults to present Murray with a break back point. Djokovic wouldn’t be denied however as he won the next three points to go up two sets to love.

The outcome was inevitable but Murray did well to make the score respectable and force a tiebreak. As was the case in the second set, Murray came back from a break down after Djokovic broke serve in the opening game of the third set.

Murray could have just given up the ghost right there so credit to him for fighting back and making the third set the closest set. In the tiebreak, Djokovic quickly raced to a 6-1 lead. Murray held both serves to get back to 3-6 but Djokovic then ended it in style with an ace.

What a champion!

  • Final Thoughts

Winning never gets old they say. And they are right. I think most people expected Murray to win a set in the final at least and I think for Djokovic to get it done in straight sets was kinda special. That meant poor Murray fell to 0-5 in Australian Open finals.

And his problem remains mental as far as I’m concerned. Djokovic is just a far superior player in that department. Murray has all the shots. He may even be more talented than Djokovic. He certainly has better hands at the net.

But mentally the difference is light years. Like I keep saying, Djokovic is a mental monster. And it clearly wasn’t that way from the start. That is what is so inspirational about him. He actually used to be fragile mentally, retiring from matches for almost any reason.

Watching him grow and evolve as a tennis player has been a treat and gives anyone hope that you don’t need to be born with certain qualities to be successful but that you can develop them over time and that continual growth is all important.

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If you look at Federer, for instance, you see someone who was blessed with pretty much limitless talent. And yet it seems he is the one that stagnated and stopped growing. Of course, in recent times he has done very well to make changes to his game and reinvent himself as a better offensive and net player, but he isn’t making any progress as far as beating Djokovic goes.

If anything, the losses are getting worse. And yet, he still seems to believe the match is on his racquet against the Djoker. That’s what he says. But it sure wasn’t on his racquet when Djokovic ‘roasted him alive'(as an objective Fedfan put it) in the first two sets of their match in Melbourne this year.

This objective Fedfan made a comment on my last post saying that Federer can’t accept that the match is not on his racquet anymore and I agree. It’s the same thing that happened in the early days against Nadal. There is a kind of arrogant pride that doesn’t allow Federer to accept the truth and adjust accordingly.

When you get blasted off the court 6-1, 6-2 then there is simply no way the match is on your racquet. And then I see Fedfans comment on forums that Federer didn’t show up for the first two sets.

It is that exact kind of arrogance/denial which cost Federer and his fans on countless occasions. ‘Federer is a god that can’t do anything wrong and if something does go wrong then the problem must lie somewhere else. It is never Federer’s fault because he is a perfect god’.

This is why their newest angle is now the fact that Djokovic sits in an oxygen chamber to recover from matches which, by the way, is completely legal. It is one thing to accuse Nadal of doping but now they are seriously reaching.

Other than the fact that this scientific study proves that sitting in an oxygen chamber does nothing to aid recovery or enhance performance, how did Federer’s chronic back problems all of a sudden disappear never to return?

How does he show hardly any decline at all at age 34? You see, it’s not hard to invent conspiracy theories. And until someone comes up with some real proof, I am not going to assume things just because a desperate fanbase wants me to.

If Fedfans want to believe that Federer is a perfect god that never does anything wrong then I’m not going to stop them. But I don’t believe in that kind of idolization of a human being. As far as I’m concerned Federer has plenty of flaws as a tennis player and as a human being.

And unless he does something about it there is a good possibility that Djokovic will surpass him in the GOAT debate.

  • What Does the Future Hold for Djokovic?

So to get back to Federer’s flaws. There have always been a kind of denial about him which cost him big time against players who were not intimidated by him like Nadal and Djokovic. Djokovic is now probably a completer player than Federer ever was.

He has a better backhand, better returns, better movement/fitness, and he is mentally more stable under pressure. Federer has a better serve, forehand, and volleys. Djokovic has caught up with Federer and Federer doesn’t seem to want to admit it.

He is still using the same game plan and thinking the match is on his racquet. As a result, he just suffered his worst slam beating at the hands of Djokovic in recent times. He is still doing his real fans proud, but he is not getting any closer to Djokovic.

To the contrary, Djokovic is getting closer to him in the GOAT debate. With this title Djokovic equaled Emerson’s record of six Australian Open titles and he is also now equal with Laver and Borg in terms of slams won.

That is some serious company to be in and he is still in his prime. There is no doubt that Djokovic is currently playing the best tennis of his career and that he is completer than ever as a player and human being.

With the 6th Australian Open title behind him, we can now finally begin to seriously look forward. For the second time in his career, he is on a run of three consecutive slam titles. And for the second time, he will have a shot at completing the ‘Djoker slam’ at the French Open.

In 2012, Nadal spoiled it for him in the French Open final. With Nadal having seriously declined of late and Djokovic grilling him alive at the French last year already, you would think his chances of doing it this year are very good.

If it wasn’t for a brutal draw at the French last year Djokovic could have already completed the calendar slam. It is highly doubtful that he will receive a draw like that again this year. The argument from Fedfans is that it is said every year that this is the year that Djokovic will win the elusive French Open.

Personally, I wasn’t overly optimistic last year that Djokovic could get it done after I saw the draw. I think it is much more likely that he gets it done this year. My feeling is that this is the year he gets it done. But we will see.

I think the possibility alone is exciting. No one has completed the personal slam since Laver won the calendar slam in ’69. Strictly speaking, that is not a personal slam but like a personal slam, it is also four slam titles in a row.

Neither Federer nor Nadal has completed a calendar slam or a personal slam so if Djokovic achieves it, it would count for a lot. If he wins the French it would also mean he completes the career slam so the stakes will be at an all-time high in the French capital this year.

If Djokovic does pull it off, which I don’t doubt that he can, he will already be in the GOAT debate. He would have done something Fedal couldn’t do and he already leads them in the head-to-head. That would also release a lot of pressure on him and he could go on to win many more slams.

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Who knows, maybe even the calendar slam itself. So I think there is a very exciting time ahead in tennis. For some fans, this domination from Djokovic is becoming boring but it was the same with Sampras and Federer. Welcome to tennis.

For us Djokovic fans, it is exciting times because there is a possibility of something very special being done in tennis and by our favorite player at that.

  • Thank You

Just a thank you to my readers for the blog support over the past fortnight and I hope you enjoyed my coverage of this year’s Australian Open. As usual, there is a lot to cover after a grand slam final and I won’t fit everything into one post so I will probably make another one tomorrow and then take a break.

Until later!

  • Highlights

  • Presser

Q. It’s the first month of the year. You’ve already had convincing wins over your three biggest rivals in your career. Do you allow yourself in your mind to acknowledge that perhaps you’ve separated yourself from them a bit at the moment?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I don’t want to allow myself to be in that frame of mind. Because if I do, the person becomes too arrogant and thinks that he’s a higher being or better than everybody else. You can get a big slap from karma very soon. I don’t want that.

I found this to be a very interesting presser. Did Federer become too arrogant and thought he was a higher being? His fans certainly treated him that way. I’ll let people make up their own minds but Djokovic has the ideal attitude I think.

He is humble and takes nothing for granted. Always trying to improve. Never getting complacent. For that reason, I wouldn’t be surprised if he surpasses Federer.

The is in your court.

Australian Open 2016 Final Preview: Can Murray Break Through at Last?

As promised, I am back with a preview of the men’s final. I see Serena Williams lost to Angelique Kerber in the women’s final which just goes to show you how unpredictable tennis is. Did I just mention women’s tennis? Wow, that must be a first!

In all seriousness, I don’t follow women’s tennis but I think most people more-or-less had Williams as a lock for the title. She is basically like a Djokovic of the men’s side. It’s funny how everyone expected her to win the calender slam last year but then she lost in the US Open semis which meant Djokovic had a better year in the slams than her and overall.

Anyway, my point was that in tennis you just never know. I think many people basically have the Djoker as a lock for the title as well, but it is not a certainty at all. And not in the least because Murray has beaten Djokovic twice in slam finals before.

Of course, Djokovic is a better player now than he was in 2012-13, but it’s not like Murray goes into this slam final with Djokovic having never tasted victory before. That said, it doesn’t help his cause that he has only won one match against Djokovic since that last slam final victory at Wimbledon in 2013.

That victory came in the Canada Masters final last year. Sure it is best of three but it proved once again that Murray should not be underestimated. I just think the Plexicushion suits the Djoker’s game to a T and he feels very much at home in Melbourne.

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There is also more history up for grabs this year for Djokovic after he broke the record for most Australian Open titles in the open era last year. This time, he is after Roy Emerson’s amateur era record of six titles.

It certainly helps when there is one slam where you feel you are almost guaranteed to pick up a title each year if you are looking to rack up plenty of slams. Federer had Wimbledon and Nadal had the French Open.

If Djokovic can keep winning the Australian Open for a few more years and perhaps Wimbledon too where he seems awfully comfortable these days then he just needs to pick up the French and the US Open a few more times and he’d be well on his way to GOAThood.

But I am now getting way ahead of myself. Just winning the title tomorrow is a big enough challenge. Always first things first. If Djokovic loses tomorrow then all of a sudden he loses momentum. If there is one place he is expected to win the title it is in Melbourne and that creates its own pressure.

As far as the match goes, you better believe Murray will have a very specific game plan to try and unsettle Djokovic. From what I hear, his second serve has improved. It will be important for him to stay aggressive on his second serve and aggressive overall. But maybe most importantly he must not give any ‘business to his box‘ as Brad Gilbert puts it.

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Is Murray/Mauresmo a match for Djokovic/Becker?

If he starts doing that it will give Djokovic a mental boost and things will go south fast for him. Murray is very prone to yell obscenities at his box and from what I can remember the only coach who succeeded in making Murray relent from doing so was Lendl.

It should be no surprise then that he won his two slams while Lendl was coaching him. I stand corrected but I think Lendl is the one who ended that partnership which I thought back then already was a big blow to Murray.

But we will see what his behaviour is like in the final. Maybe he can somehow control himself. As for Djokovic, he will surely feel very confident after his beatdown of Federer in the first two sets especially. Just an extraordinary display of baseline mastery.

Federer didn’t know what hit him, and if Djokovic comes out playing like that again Muray will be in for a world of hurt. That would be difficult to do though and Murray provides a different challenge than Federer altogether.

It will be harder to end points against Murray, which means Djokovic will need to be more patient. It won’t be the spectacular tennis of the Djokerer semi-final, but it is nonetheless going to be an interesting game of chess from the baseline. I just saw this tweet from Brad Gilbert:

That pretty much sums it up. If Murray is to win the match it is basically imperative that he wins the first set. If he loses the first set the odds are heavily stacked against him and not only because of the stats.

After a five-setter with Raonic in the semis and one fewer day of rest, it becomes even more important for him to win the first set. So expect Djokovic to come out strong and really try to get that first set under the belt.

Who will win the 2016 Australian Open?

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  • Pre-Final Pressers

  • The Djoker

That accuracy   =D>

The is in your court.

Australian Open Day 12: Murray Survives Injured Raonic

Hi, folks. The second semi-final turned out to be a five-set affair with Murray surviving an injured Raonic 4-6, 6-4, 6-7(4), 6-4, 6-2. I think Raonic got injured again toward the end of the fourth set at which point his movements seemed to be severely impaired.

That’s a real shame because he obviously works very hard to improve and this is now the second time in a short space of time that he has injury problems. Just as he is fully recovered and takes his game to a new level he gets injured again.

That must be extremely frustrating and I wish him a quick recovery. He had a real shot at winning this and judging from the scoreline he was winning before he got injured. That’s a shame in terms of the final matchup as well.

Murray is a worthy final opponent but the Djokoray rivalry is not a classic one because their playing styles are so similar. And we have seen these two meet in the Australian Open final three times before already. Djokovic won in four sets in 2013 and 2015 and in straights in 2011.

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They have also met in the semis in 2012 when Murray came the closest pushing Djokovic to five sets. So if Murray is gonna pull it off it will have to be a first but now he also had one fewer rest day than Djokovic and played a marathon against Raonic.

So it does look an awful lot like Djokovic will win a 6th Australian Open but nothing is ever certain in this sport. I will see what the deal is tomorrow and try to make a preview post. It is, after all, a slam final.

  • More on the Djokerer Rivalry

I already said the Djokerer semi-final was the real final to me. As usual, they put up a great show and it would have been more fitting if they met in the final but that’s how it goes. Murray had a very solid season last year and deserved the number two ranking.

Do you think Federer prefers to keep meeting Djokovic in slam semis in the future or in the finals? I don’t think it matters much for either player. They just want to win. But for the fans, it’s probably better if they meet in the final.

One wonders how long Federer can keep making the latter rounds of slams and challenge Djokovic. It’s extraordinary that he is doing it at 34. The problem for him is that there doesn’t seem to be any progress as far as defeating Djokovic goes.

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He keeps losing to Djokovic in four sets in slams and there is a big difference between losing in four sets to Djokovic and beating him. If it goes to five sets Djokovic is still easily the favorite. I do admire how Federer keeps coming back, though.

He has always been the eternal optimist and he will just keep coming back at him even if it means losing the next ten slam meetings. Of course, that won’t look very good in the head-to-head but other than that he doesn’t have much to lose.

All I know is Djokovic is not going anywhere. He is one determined individual and he won’t quit until he achieves what he set out to achieve.

  • Highlights

The is in your court.