A match made in heaven

Djokovic and Nadal advertise everything tennis has to give

With the disappointment of Murray’s defeat to Djokovic in the semi-finals of the Australian Open the epic match that ensued in the final between Djokovic and Nadal was perhaps some what overlooked in this country, but I feel it would be unfair not to reflect on what was, perhaps, one of the greatest finals ever.

When the two greatest competitors in their sporting field meet, you always anticipate that there may be the possibility of witnessing brilliance. On many of these occasions the resulting quality may not match your expectations, but occasionally you are lucky enough to view something that surpasses anything you could possibly imagine. In recent times, tennis has been dominated by two supremely talented men; a Spaniard named Rafael Nadal and a humble man from Switzerland, Roger Federer. Many consider the latter to be the greatest player ever, but certainly Nadal has challenged that idea, overcoming Federer in several unbelievable matches. Who could forget the Wimbledon final where the fifth set was played practically in the dark? Now, however, a new era has begun. A Serb named Novak Djokovic has broken what had become a recurrent theme of Nadal and Federer Grand Slams. In a sensational 2011, Djokovic moved to the pinnacle of tennis, displacing both Nadal and Federer at the top of the game. However, as the England cricket team are learning, reaching the summit is the simple part, remaining there is a whole other matter.

Djokovic would begin 2012 by attempting to defend his Australian Open crown in Melbourne. On his road to the final he met extremely stern competition in Andy Murray, who fought valiantly til the very last point, but, despite seeming to exhaust all his talent, enthusiasm and energy, was still unable to defeat the super Serb. So it would be that World number 1, Novak Djokovic, would meet World number 2, Rafael Nadal, in a remarkable final.

Nadal began the stronger of the two when, following a set in which the initiative switched backwards and forwards, he broke Djokovic in the 11th game, taking the set 7-5. Djokovic, however, came back strongly, breaking early in the second set to level the match at 1-1. Djokovic’s baseline play was simply too good for Nadal in the 3rd set, with the Serb storming to a 2-1 lead after winning the 3rd set 6-2 with a scorching forehand down the line. When the heavens opened with the 4th set finely poised at 4-4, a short break had to be taken whilst the Rod Laver Arena roof was closed. The break, however, did not seem to have any effect on either player, as they took the set to a tie-break. Although it proved to be very tight, Nadal eventually claimed the set, laying the foundations for a quite incredible finale. Djokovic appeared to be fading at the business end of the match, as Nadal raced to a 4-2 lead. But the world number 1, who has inspirationally shown the resilience to fight through anything over the last year, was not yet finished. He fought back against all the odds to take a 6-5 lead, setting up the chance to serve out the match. Nadal did manage to force a break point, but when his efforts were rebuffed, Djokovic kept his cool to serve out the match and claim yet another grand slam title. Considering Djokovic’s semi-final against Andy Murray lasted for nearly 5 hours, it was a quite incredible feat that the Serbian, destined for greatness, managed to complete the 5 hour 53 minute match, never mind win it.

Put simply, Djokovic and Nadal delivered one of the greatest tennis matches that I, certainly, have ever witnessed and I’m sure that anybody who was fortunate enough to view the spectacle will agree with me when I say that, although Djokovic will be remembered as the victor, neither player deserved to or can be considered the loser. However, the world number 1 once again proved his worth and continues his brilliant form into 2012 and who’s to say that he cannot go on and continue this form for the rest of the year? Could he even complete a clean sweep of grand slam titles? The sky is the limit…

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