He’s Actually The Dark Knight
There’s too much to unpack from this huge win for Djokovic at 2018 Wimbledon. We’ll do our best here, for starters, but know that the tour’s tenor now looking at the rest of 2018 is out of this world interesting and full of anticipation as Novak has definitively declared war on the recent and current Fedal campaign.
There’s so much to unpack not just from the tennis that was played, but for the larger conversation that I (and a few others) have maintained. We see these events through the prism of Djokovic, both in terms of the tennis played by the ATP gents, as well as how the conversation has unfolded here at Mcshow Blog.
Simply put, this analysis revolves around three pretty basic points of the story: 1) Novak’s dominance; 2) Djkollapse, and the 3) return of the dark knight (okay, sorry: the Batman analogies are officially getting retired — but he is very much a dark knight and, at the same time, the Djoker! I’ll just save that for another post).
- Dominance Circa 2015: Go back and read some of my early commentary in 2015 when Djokovic was rolling. These are two pretty good posts (one and two), but there are more, really too many to catalogue right now. Just keep reading my blog! Indeed, the narrative back then was Novak’s run at titles, confirming his place in the tennis pantheon, most notably in how his legacy would ultimately be compared to Fedal. Sure, tennis is bigger than those three, an argument I’ve advanced consistently (though tough to keep that afloat with all of this dominance from all three). Remember, Novak’s 2015-16 run was digested with the struggles of Fedal, which wasn’t too hard to stomach even for their adoring fans since RF and RN had perhaps realized their twighlight. This was Novak’s era, his opportunity to run the show, so to speak, which he did, achieving the Novak Slam in Paris in 2016, which hastened . . .
- Djokollapse (there are several pages in that “search” so please peruse recklessly). Sure, there are many many posts that address this consequential collapse from the Serb. Traces can be found in that summer of 2016, but after the U.S. Open final loss to Wawrinka, mine eyes saw some doom on the horizon. Some of my post U.S. Open discourse evidences this premonition. This post and this post were really getting the ball rolling on the significance of what could happen, that did happen. Novak succumbing like that, when and how he did, certainly makes a win like 2018 Wimbledon so incredible, but this has to be part of that Djoker narrative. Fedal have made the same sort of route throughout their careers, but this collapse, I argued and will continue to configure, complicates and clarifies the legacy of Novak. Imagine if he’d held on, somehow maintained #1 at the end of 2016, showed even a fringe of resistance to 2017 Fedal?
- The Return of Djokovic. We saw traces on the 2018 clay (mainly that match against Nadal in Rome), but his rise and conquest of Wimbledon marks, officially, his return. We’ll continue to chart the story from here. But this certainly marks the beginning of a new chapter.
Obviously I have the quietest yet best read readership anywhere in the world.
I wrote two posts clarifying this belief: because I had seen him find, finally, his own belief. I talked of the look in his eyes, the body language, along with the flight of his ball. This understanding of what would transpire on that side of the net was coupled with what I believed would happen on the other side of the net. Nadal makes a wreck of the grass, which, for me, is a big consideration. Bo5, and a major (on Federer’s lawns no less) are reasons enough to give the Spaniard all kinds of hope in a match like that.
But not against the rising Djokovic whose record recently against Nadal had been quite one-sided. I pointed to other points-of-view, their statistical arguments of H2H in majors, or H2H at Wimbledon (one of those matches was in 2008); in fact, one genius pointed-out that Nadal was 2-1 on grass against Nole, the other match a Nadal win at Queen’s in 2008 (I believe). Irrelevant.
Nole is a nightmare for Nadal. Period.
And the funny part is that in watching that match, that 2018 SF, last week, one had to have massive doubts, as the match unfolded, that Novak would pull-out the win, overcome the bulldozing drop-shot that is the clay king on grass (tough to watch, to be honest as, again, the sport on this surface has to maintain a more classic or traditional strategy and style — there will be disagreement here, even from me, pointing-out that a win is a win, no matter the means to that end; but the lawns of Wimbledon do require, reinforced last week, that a winning game embrace some semblance of fluency with that surface, no matter how much the organization has disturbed this classic format, documented endlessly by those who pay attention to such matters. Indeed, there is a kind of karma or tennis divinity that controls the outcome).
Or it was simply Novak’s icy nerves that held Nadal’s advances in check, enabling him to too consistently push Rafa toward grass extinction.
As for my call for Novak in four sets: this match should have been straight sets. Rafa was DOA in the first set with Djokovic pounding the BL on ROS or dictating in really every facet of the game (Novak’s serve was HUGE). Imagine if Novak cashes-in on more BPs? Of course, this woulda/shoulda song-and-dance is pointless. But Novak was all over the world #1 from the word “go.”
Johnny Mac, calling the match on my telly, observed early in that second set (we all saw it, but cool to have a broadcast point this out) how Novak got frustrated with his inability to completely cash-out the Spaniard; Rafa held-on by just a thread, but even this brief emotional breakdown, Novak yelling at his box, really showing this vulnerability, breathed massive life into the Rafa game. No doubt. Novak gave him life.
The incredible TB third set was a brutal watch, but of course Novak secured the win and probably closes-out Nadal in the fourth if they’re given a chance to finish. At the same time, however, Novak did look a little fatigued, probably as much from the emotional intensity of such a match, a level he hasn’t seen in over two years, as from anything else. So, tough to say what happens if they finish on Friday.
Obviously, the final two sets the following day were very dramatic, especially the fifth. Again, Novak’s ability (as many have said) to bend but not break proved true, which for us all seems to indicate that the Novak is back (recall of course that I had said he’s already back in my prediction posts). 😀
Certainly the scheduling was all kinds of complicated even for Federer fans as he played that QF match on Court 1. 😉 But the men’s SF and women’s F were certainly undermined a bit by the odd scheduling and match format (looks like a fifth set TB will be implemented given the ridiculousness of not having such a handy close-out feature to a match). Think about that: Anderson winning that SF v Isner was a lethal injection into the S. African’s chances in the final.
Anderson’s post match celebration and interview were profound in what this lack of TB tennis means. He, in his own words, was hardly joyous. He spent several words complementing Isner and very humbly recognizing his achievement that everyone knew was bitter sweet given what he still had to do.
Another terrific run from Kevin, no doubt. Isner was right there. The 26-24 score, especially in a SF (!) has to practically indicate a draw, which Kevin even suggested. Really an odd spectacle knowing another SF was still to be played AND the winner had to play winner of that second SF in a Final!
Thanks for being patient in my post WB hiatus. Perhaps I was drained by that SF match. What a match! Ha ha. I hope you liked that. I correctly predicted that outcome, but for those who might be a little or a lot surprised by the Novak defeat of Rafa, the match might have seemed indeed like a steal, thus the sinister laughs from the likes of those two, especially Marian. 😀
One of the big questions now is how does this affect the rest of the season. Novak should be licking his chops for hard courts. He might have a little more in the tank this year given that he has really only arrived whereas usually by this point in the season, he’s put a lot of mileage on that BL-oriented game.
Two stats here make this latter point so clear: he’s never won Cincinnati and has just the two U.S. Open titles. Novak, who many claim is the greatest HC player of all time, has had his slight difficulties on the N.A. hard courts.
But I think this is a different Novak. He’s evolved, in his own words, and in his own play. We have a lot to look forward to in the next couple of months and a lot to discuss — pay attention!
How will Federer respond to his WB demise, his FH disappearance? That shot went away, perhaps back to 2015 (to fill-out the weird time-travel sequence we watched manifest in the play of Novak).
Rafa should be in form, although he’s certainly played a lot of tennis the last few months.
With Novak in the top 10 again, and Fedal at Nos. 1 and 2, this should be an interesting next couple of months, for sure.