Once again, Novak Djokovic shows resilience and bounces back to win Wimbledon title
A noticeable trait in Novak Djokovic’s game throughout the years has been his ability to bounce the ball an incredible amount as he prepares to unleash a serve.
One video on YouTube from a match in Miami in 2012 shows the Serbian bouncing it 29 times before he finally put the ball out of its misery and threw it in the air.
It is a practice that has annoyed umpires and opponents over the years, but in many ways the motion is fitting of Djokovic’s personality on court.
He always bounces back. No matter what is thrown at him, the Serb always finds a way to bounce back from a setback.
He had already demonstrated that characteristic at Wimbledon in coming from two sets down to beat Kevin Anderson in the fourth round, but he was at it again on Sunday in the final against Roger Federer.
Djokovic, already leading by a set, had seven set points in the second set, but failed to take any of them, and could only watch in horror as Federer won a tiebreaker 12-10 to level things.
Having that many chances, being agonisingly close to going two sets up but failing, to suddenly being dragged back by the most successful men’s player in the Open era, playing on his favourite surface, must have been tough to deal with.
But feeling sorry for himself is just not Djokovic’s way. He did what he did best and hit back immediately.
He engineered two breaks points in Federer’s first service game of the third set, and though he did not win either of them, a marker had been set – he was beginning to read Federer’s serve.
Djokovic got the job done in the next game as his relentless groundstrokes from the back of the court forced an error from the No 2 seed, who put a forehand long, and that break would be enough to eventually take the third set.
With the momentum now with him there was no stopping Djokovic and a further two breaks in the fourth set clinched the world No 1’s third Wimbledon title and the ninth grand slam of his illustrious career.
From being in despair an hour earlier, the resilience of the 28-year-old Serb’s character had shone through.
In many ways this tournament was a test of character after his agonising loss at the French Open last month.
The Roland Garros title, which would have given him a career grand slam, is the only major missing from Djokovic’s trophy cabinet, but having finally got the better of Rafael Nadal, the man who had denied him twice before in Paris finals, he was again frustrated when within touching distance of the trophy, this time by an inspired Stan Wawrinka.
Djokovic will surely have more chances to win that trophy, but for now Wimbledon has again proved a way of demonstrating just why he is the best player in the world.
He took down an opponent in Federer who had played sensationally in defeating Andy Murray in the semi-finals, with a serve that was fast and accurate in equal measure.
Djokovic’s mental strength meant he was always going to cope better with a strong start from Federer than Murray had done, and although it was the Swiss player who looked the better early on, Djokovic dug deep and hung on in there.
Crucially, after his serve had been broken first in Game 6 of the opening set, he hit back instantly with a break of his own to level things, and he would go on to dominate the tie-break to go ahead.
As Federer’s energy levels began to drop and the strength of his first serve began to fall away, Djokovic pounced, wearing down his great rival to such extent that the one-sided fourth set was completely out of keeping with what had gone before.
So that is now three Wimbledon titles for Djokovic and it was also the first time the men’s singles title has been successfully defended since Federer did it in 2007.
Federer, 33, continues to astound with his ability to play competitive tennis of such a high standard at an age when many of his peers had long given up the game.
But while he is still able to compete with the world No 1 in best-of-three-set matches, as was demonstrated by his victory over Djokovic in Dubai in February, at the majors it now appears to be beyond him when tasked with needing to win three sets.
Federer has played some fantastic tennis on grass over the past month, bwhether he can sustain that form on the hard courts of North America remains to be seen.
As for Djokovic, his aim now will be to enjoy a period where he does not have to reflect on disappointment and how he is going to recover, but instead on a job well done and kicking on to further success, starting with a bid for second US Open crown at Flushing Meadows next month.
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Published: July 12, 2015 04:00 AM