As we prepare for this mammoth collision of great men’s championship final tennis (congrats btw to the two Italian ladies who put-on quite a show. . .at the trophy ceremony! Great vibes. What a way to retire, going-out on top in the big apple), just a quick note on attitude and form.
Novak will probably have the edge in attitude and this aspect of this match will go a long way in determining the champion. The images I posted in my previous post, for me, speak volumes. Everything’s come pretty easy to Roger. He’s (in)famous for his relaxed (classy) style. When that has translated to victories, this style has helped build the brand, that strong character argument that people use to worship his greatness. However, those of us who really care and watch closely, we see this attitude or style as a potentially huge hinderance for Roger. Some call it arrogance and I wouldn’t necessarily disagree.
At Wimbledon, Roger seemed to have this swagger in buckets. I noticed it as the two made their way to the court. Of course, Roger’s Wimbledon credentials are historic. But that was then, this is now. Get in the moment, Roger. And when he made a u-turn in the first set (failing to consolidate that break), he crumbled. The buckets of confidence and nonchalance brought this failed attitude to the ground and below. Though we might see Roger as having a great poker face, a steadiness in his emotions during a match, this was not the case at Wimbledon and hasn’t been the case often for the Swiss in these big matches. That’s his style.
Novak, on the other hand (see the pic I posted), is business-like. Whether that’s his tough childhood, or his eastern European work-ethic, he’s very much a player we could describe as a grinder, a machine of war, etc. Novak, especially in these five set matches, ultimately finds enough focus to control and beat his opponent. This seemingly non-tennis discussion of their attitudes, their mental styles, is critical to today’s match. I could not be more certain of anything.
Roger’s physical form seems to give him the edge in this match. He is having a tremendous summer post-Wimbledon. His attacking brilliance has been such a treat to watch (count your lucky stars, people).
But what is likely to happen today if Djokovic’s steady workman-like tennis stonewalls the Swiss’ swell of court genius (form)? He will get loose with his shots, his unforced errors will prevail, Roger will sag and the Serb will straighten-up and advance, quite easily perhaps.
Roger has to borrow a page from Nadal or Djokovic (or Pete) with regards to his mental approach today (attitude). He will face tremendous pressure, have to handle big momentum shifts, etc. How he handles these mentally will be the key. Look beyond the brilliant shots, the SABR non-sense.
His form actually could play into this attitude adjustment because his attacking form, his short-point approach helps create a focus, this determination to step on your opponent’s throat and finish the task at hand. So his form could really underscore this big question mark of attitude, revise and change it to an exclamation point! Roger has to take care of business.
This attitude is the key (and again his current HC form that has developed since Cincy helps). Roger can’t be too at ease, too aware of his crowd endorsement, his history at the U.S. Open, his win at Cincy, etc. This is going to be a war and only his fierce attention to minor details, to every point, will enable him to hit those BH down-the-lines that assert lethal blows to his opponent’s game. What comes first, the chicken or the egg? Roger’s brilliant championship form or his championship mettle?
Djokovic’s form doesn’t seem on par with Roger’s, but as I have tried to explain here, more of this match turns on the mental approach each player takes than it does their form, which we can suspect will be fairly comparable.
Roger has to maintain his form for ~3 maybe 4 hours. Fitness and freshness are not excuses at this point. Maintenance of a winning form will boil down to mental fortitude, perseverance and devoted commitment. Such tennis almost humbles the player, as he practically sacrifices himself for the match, for a prestigious championship. Can Roger demonstrate the sacrifice, die on the court for his cause? Can he reach #18? You know Nole will do everything in his powers to avoid 1-5 at the USO, to crown 2015 as one of the greatest displays of tennis all-time.
Talk to you soon!