Monday 7 July 2014


                                                                      A clash to remember                                         Source: ABC
In the end the satisfying part of watching a Wimbledon finals was that - it involved two humans at the peak of their individual skills exhibiting their repertoire, physical reserves that seemed invisible to themselves and acute mental awareness in spite of times when the title seemed to run away with the other person.

My moment of the third set was the games leading up to the tie-breaker and the tie-breaker itself. Two clearly matched opponents - nullifying each other's strokes of geniuses. Then Novak wins a crucial point, he is excited and he urges the crowd to cheer him on, loud and more loud. He sensed, the third set was all his and that it was.

If looked in isolation, having missed the championship point, Djokovic was never the same player for the next five games. Trailing 2-5 and with opponent having a break point, Federer boxed his way out, cornering Novak to one corner or the other, exhibiting some of the aggressive tennis seen in the match. It was counter-attack on a player who started to grunt more, losing energy with each stroke. He did not have a clue and if the tie break would have gone Federer's way in the third set, it would have been curtains for Novak. It was that phase of the match, irrespective of who the opponent was - 'Federer was in a class of his own'. He won the set 7-5 and the match proceeds to the fifth set.

At the beginning of the final set if one were to have analysed the fitness levels of these two great athletes - the younger Novak (by six years) would lose hands down to Federer. It was advantage Federer all-over. Novak takes a medical time-out to sooth his aching calf and ankle muscles and to bring his mind in order. In boxer's term, he was just handed a series of 'deadly punches' which he just could not defend, denting his confidence a little. He was anything but cheerful in the fourth set and that spoke about his mental health - which was shattered by the assault of Federer. The momentum was with Federer and now the brakes have been applied by Djokovic.

Federer was calm and went about his tennis in the final set with a similar approach as he did in the fourth set. Novak ensured he held on to his serve - which at that point was the only sensible thing to do. He had no chance whatsoever to score a point of Federer's serve - never mind breaking the same. Three games in which Federer served - he gave nothing at all to his Serbian opponent. On the other hand, in contrast Novak struggled and Federer's plan was to break Novak's serve early. He had his chances but Novak was better to fend any such threats. 4-3 to Djokovic and Federer to serve.

Up until that game, Novak was playing with minimum effort, doing just a little to defend and hold on to his serve - as though he knew he wanted to use his reserve energy some other time. He upped his ante in the eighth game and took the game to a far amount of distance - an indication that he was back.

He felt and it was seen, he could now dictate terms. He almost broke Federer's serve. The next sensible thing Novak did was to go 5-4 and then play his final set of cards. He knew, he can win if he can break Federer's serve right there in the tenth game. If it were to extend any further, he would lose it. Physically he looked much more drained than his Swiss opponent. As he was in the process of winning the ninth game, he urged the fans to cheer him. A similar trait - which kept him going in the third set.
Now, this sort of mindset is what keeps a champion like 'Novak' advance to his goal. Beyond a limit, exists a zone where his mental ability counter balances his physical ineptness. He sensed, this was it - Carpe Diem!! Novak broke the serve and Wimbledon was all his!
Novak Djokovic won his second Wimbledon title and finally managed to erase his losing streak in the Grand Slam finals. He knew he had slipped on more than few occasions in the match and that was the beauty of this finals! His seventh title was something he would cherish a long time to come. He has won seven trophies out of fourteen finals that he has participated and a first against Roger Federer. He knew it was special! and he knew he had to snatch it from Roger - especially if you look how the last hour of this match panned out. He is courteous enough to say it in public, acknowledging his family, support staff and specially to Federer for handing over this championship to him.

For Federer, he surprised himself to an extent that he could go this far a distance. Maybe it is to do with Wimbledon or maybe it is to do about him. Actually it is do with him. He along with three other champions come to my immediate mind as I write this. Michael Jordan, Sachin Tendulkar and Michael Schumacher. After all they have achieved in their respective sporting careers, having stayed on top for so long, the fear of losing the sheen from their illustrious career never came in their way - as long as they knew they were giving 100% and enjoyed the process of being a competitive athlete.

In the 1995 action thriller 'Heat' - Robert De Niro summons his gang of bank robbers (three) before committing one last heist. Though he is a criminal, he displays his humane touch asking his three buddies if they want to back out and live the rest of their lives with 'huge sums of money' they made and start a new life. He would not judge if they backed out. Val Kilmer says 'The bank is worth the risk, I need it brother'. De Niro turns to Tom Sizemore, who hesitates to back out - " Elaine takes good care of you. You got plenty put away. You got T-bonds, real estate. If I were you, I would be smart. I would cut loose of this."  Tom Sizemore looks in the eyes of De Niro, turns around to look at his other mates and turns to De Niro and says - "Well, you know. For me, the action is the juice, I'm in".

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