After NY, master of the world
Novak Djokovic capped one of tennis's greatest seasons with a awe-inspiring US Open triumph on Monday that could just signal an end to the sport's obsession with "Rafa v Roger" finals.sports Updated: Sep 14, 2011 01:55 IST
The 24-year-old Serb broke the pain barrier to beat defending champion Rafa Nadal 6-2 6-4 6-7 6-1 and claim his third Grand Slam of the year, underlining that the balance of power in the men's game had well and truly shifted.
Seven-time Grand Slam winner Mats Wilander said Djokovic was on target for a rush of major title after winning a first in New York and the fourth of his career. "He's jumped up a level," Wilander said. "I think this is the very beginning. He may be riding the wave, but it's not like the wave is going to end. This is how good he is."
Djokovic struggled with rib pain, lower back pain and cramping and needed a medical timeout and pain killer to carry on in a punishing final but stubbornly refused to yield.
Serbia's Davis Cup hero had also saved match points against Roger Federer in the semifinals, underlining the steel that has produced an astonishing 64-2 record and 10 titles this year.
"At this level you need those tough matches against top guys," said Djokovic. "To get confidence that you can really win majors and win the big matches. I guess it just clicked in my head. Throughout the last couple of years I didn't change my game in any major way. I think most of the strokes are the same that they were.
"It's just that I'm hitting the shots that I maybe wasn't hitting in the last two, three years now. I'm going for it. I'm more aggressive and I have a different approach to the semifinals and finals of major events."
Serb, who replaced Nadal as world No. 1 earlier this year, said about his attitude in the past. "Not really having the positive attitude and kind of belief that I can win."
Even when his body looked like giving out on him, Djokovic dug deep with a determination and courage normally associated with Nadal himself. "I felt the most discomfort and pain with my serve, so I tried to go more for the precision rather than for speed," said the Serb.