Tuesday 5 July 2011

Novak Djokovic - Wimbledon 2011 Champion - part 1

I'm going to tell these two days in pictures and videos. Too much to remember, not enough words to say it all.

First of all, the highlights video from the final - Wimbledon 2011, [1] Rafael Nadal vs. [2] Novak Djokovic:

The match started with the coin toss. Nadal won it, and elected to receive. No doubt, he was hoping for Djokovic's nerves to let him down in his first Wimbledon final. That didn't happen quite as planned...

The first set began with very careful play from both competitors. They were starting slowly, testing each other out, not going for too much aggression or risky shots. Thus, they got to 4-4, with no breaks of serve in sight. At this point, every break would give the opponent the set. Novak served his game out. And then Rafa's nerves were the ones letting him down... A huge down-the-line winner helped Novak get to 30-30, and Rafa made two mistakes that cost him the first set, 6-4.

Now Novak was serving first at the second set, as well. Full of confidence, he chased every ball down, his shots finding the court each time. The point of the match, to me, was here - around 1:42 in the highlights video, this one is a must watch. With two breaks of serve, this set was over very quickly, 6-1 to Novak.

Judging by the perforamance of the two, you'd be right to expect this match to be over in three sets. However, Novak lost the mental edge he had, and started spraying errors all around. And Rafael Nadal will make you pay for every error you make. Towards the end of the set, it seemed to me that Novak wasn't even trying too hard - he knew the set was over, and wanted to conserve his strength for the next one. 1-6, in favour of Rafa.

Then came the fourth set. Not playing his best tennis (which was prominent in set no. 2), Novak nevertheless managed to break, to lead 2-0. However, his play was still too shaky, and Rafa wasn't going to give up that easily - he broke back to level the set at 2-2, with a little help by an amazing net cord (around 7:04 in the highlights). Three games and lots of saved break points later, Novak held - 4-3. This is where Rafa was serving, knowing that if he gets broken - Novak would serve for the match. Something must have clicked wrong in his head at this point, as he got to 0-40, giving Novak three break points. Rafa saved the first one, but hit the ball too long on the second. Novak Djokovic was serving for the Championship. At 30-30, he served and volleyed (this IS grass, after all) successfully, giving him his first championship point. He only needed one.

Novak Djokovic def. Rafael Nadal, 6-4 6-1 1-6 6-3. And then he tasted the grass.

He more than confirmed his new no. 1 ranking, which he officially got today, in the form of a (gluten free, I presume?) cake.

Nadal said in his press conference later:
Well, when one player beat you five times is because today my game don't bother him a lot. Today probably against me he's playing better than my level. And find solutions, that's what I have to try and that's what I gonna try.
Probably the mental part is little bit dangerous for me, because when I arrive to the 5 4, I played a bad game with 30 Love. When I arrived to 4 3 of the fourth set, I played another bad game with my serve.
That's what I say: to win these kind of matches, I have to play well these kind of points can change the match.
I didn't play well these moments. That's what happened in Indian Wells, that's what happened in Miami, and that's what happened here. I? Don't want to count in Madrid and Rome because he played much better than me.
But these three times, that's what happened. And to change that is probably be little bit less nervous than these times, play more aggressive, and all the time be confident with myself. That's what I gonna try next time.
As to Nole, you can read his post-match press conference, or watch this interview with the BBC today:

Part 2 - the celebrations - is coming up shortly.

(Photos: AP Photo, Getty Images)

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