Aussie Open: Finals (Cont’d)

Finals – Men’s Singles

Novak Djokovic vs Andy Murray
In case you haven’t heard, this was an absolute beatdown. Novak was on top of Murray from the very first point, and completely throttled him in straight sets: 6-4, 6-2, 6-3

To me, the match turned overwhelmingly to Novak’s favor in the first set. At 4-5, Murray was serving to stay in it. At 15-30 (Murray was constantly running uphill it seemed), Murray & the Joker had an absolutely unbelievable rally. 39 strokes, according to Chris Fowler. Which means they must not have counted the serve as a stroke (think about it: if the serve counts as a stroke, an odd number of strokes means the server won the point), because Nole proved the steadier of the two. This was no ordinary 39-stroke rally. This was a furious exchange of grounstrokes so intense that the sound alone is reported to have collapsed the eardrums of no less than 17 people nearby. Additionally, I heard it reported that the ball suffered extreme blunt-force trauma during this rally, and had to be permanently removed from competitive play. It was intense. It was brutal. It was…awesome! It doesn’t matter who you are reading this (and it helps that I estimate the readership of this blog to consist of around 5 people per month), you’ve never – ever – hit the ball THAT hard, THAT accurately, THAT many times in a row. And remember, Nole won that point. And shortly thereafter (at 15-40), he won the next point to take the first set 6-4. Murray had to have been unnerved by this. He threw everything but the kitchen sink at Novak and the Joker sent it back to Murray’s side of the net with Venti Interest.

So Novak wins his 2nd major and 2nd Australian Open, and Murray…well, he’s 0-3 for Grand Slam finals. That’s the good news. The bad news is, he’s 0-9 in Grand Slam final sets. What does all this mean?

It means Murray’s problems are between his ears. It’s not his fitness, his talent, his ability, his technique, or any of that stuff. Think about it: How many players make it to “a” grand slam final, to say nothing of three? Andy, I know you’re an avid reader, so let me speak plainly: You’re an insanely talented player. The only thing you’re not taking with you to the final match is the thing that got you there; belief.  No, that’s not even correct.  I think the correct word is “Faith”.  Even the great Federer has to have “faith” in himself sometimes.  Remember what he said after his *tough* 2nd round match against Gilles Simon?

“I wasn’t playing poorly either to lose the third and fourth set, I really think Gilles took it to me, but you remain positive, I worked hard my entire life, I’m happy I won and I’m still in the tournament.”

It means that when his back was up against the wall, he fell back on, and drew confidence from, all the hard work he’d put in to get there. And the next final you’re in – and I do believe you’ll have other chances – that’s what you need to do as well.

It means that Novak is the man to beat in men’s tennis right now. The dude has just found a new gear. Something has clicked in his mind, and he believes – no, he knows – he can beat anybody in the world right now. Unfortunately, clay court season is right around the corner. And that means…

Nadal is still a factor. If he can stay healthy, he’s easily a contender for the GOAT title. Hell, he’s already in the discussion. But he’s already the GOAT on clay. That’s not even opinion at this point; it’s simply an empirical fact.

And finally, it means I can’t wait ’til the French Open!

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