|'Novak racks up second Australian Open title'|
|Sunday, 30 January 2011 16:27|
by Kelvin Goodchild
Novak Djokovic, the Joker, as he is also known, became the King for a day on centre court winning a second Australian Open title in four years.
Also, Djokovic had fellow Serbian Anna Ivanovic in his box, a guest member of team Djokovic for the evening. One casts one’s mind back to the semi-finals when a certain Caroline Wozniacki - the world number one no less - was to be found sitting regally in Andy’s box. Tit for Tat and first blood to the Serbian.
The second set included what must have been Murray’s worst game of the tournament. The Scot’s body language was dour and his shoulders were tight. Even his usual outstanding tennis intelligence was deserting him. It was no surprise to see him broken for the second time and Djokovic take a 4-0 lead.
Murray mounted a mini revival when he broke Djokovic to love – no one saw that coming - but the Serbian was playing the percentages well and it wasn’t long before the match stood at two sets to none in his favour.
The writing was on the wall and the seagulls in the stadium, which were a constant source of irritation to Murray, were circling. A ripping forehand down the line helped Djokovic to a 5-3 lead in the decider and after seeing out his own serve the trophy was his.
In the statistics department, Murray hit 47 unforced errors to Djokovic’s 33. Tellingly Murray only managed to get his first serve in 53 percent of the time. For a man who relies on his serve to take him out of trouble this was just not good enough.
The Australian Open party had come to a close and there have been lowlights and highlights.
The performances of Schiavone, Clijsters and Li kept the women’s singles from being a complete bore festival. Zvonareva’s inability to perform in a final was probably matched by Andy Murray who still hasn’t clocked a set in the three Grand Slam finals he has participated in.
On the plus side, there was Novak Djokovic’s performances round-upon-round, David Ferrer’s emergence from the shadows of his world famous compatriot, Nadal, and the emergence of future top ranked players.
In that regard three names spring to mind.
Alexandr Dolgopolov, the Ukrainian trained by an Aussie (Jack Reader) who lost to Murray in the quarter-finals. He may never have seen the inside of a gym and may also break every tennis rule in the book, but he is one to watch. As light on his feet as one Gael Monfils and fearless when it comes to offensive groundstrokes.
Many words have been spoken about the progress of Canadian wonder-kid, Milos Raonic. Could he be the next Sampras? His game revolves around his powerful and precise serve which he is developing into a full-on serve and volley. There are a couple of years of hard work to put in on both his game and his fitness but he has the poise of a top ten player already.
Completing the trio of up-and-comers is the Australian teenager, Bernard Tomic. This kid has star quality in quantity. His profile as a tennis player is on the rise this year thanks to a commendable performance against world number one, Rafael Nadal, in the third round here in Melbourne.
Of course any loss by Roger Federer these days is greeted by a chorus of voices asserting loss of form and claiming the end of his career his nigh. The truth is he is only human – he has good days and bad days like anyone else. Having won all there is to win and rewritten the record books multiple times you wouldn’t blame the Fed Express for hanging up the Nikes, but the straight sets humbling by Djokovic has probably renewed the fire in the Swiss man’s belly.
Players are becoming more comfortable with Hawk-eye although Clijsters used it only once before her final. And, the invention of Hawk-eye has alerted players, fans, critics, coaches and all, to how good those umpires really are.
The Australian Open has ushered the new tennis year in in style. It has answered a lot of questions and posed a few more. I for one cannot wait to see how the rest of the season is going to pan out.
Did we witness a changing of the guard in Melbourne? Novak Djokovic probably thinks so. Watch this space.