It’s perhaps the most talked about event in men’s tennis at the moment—Novak Djokovic winning his third Australian Open crown. That's two in two straight years.
The Serb’s statistics at the slam Down Under is quite remarkable. He has made it to three finals and holds a perfect 100-percent record in winning all three and, most importantly, against three different opponents.
Comparing Nole’s performance between the Australian Open 2008 and the Australian Open 2012, stark differences emerge. The Nole who battled against Rafa in the almost six-hour marathon on January 29, 2012 in Rod Laver Arena was tenacious—just like the Spaniard was when he had fought off Federer in the finals in 2009.
Along with tenacity, the one additional factor that added to Nole’s supremacy was his determination to battle on without giving up on even a single point—once again quite reminiscent of the Spaniard.
Fitness was always regarded to be the only chink in Nole’s armour. There have been many occasions in the past where he has thrown in the towel at Grand Slam matches—important ones—on account of inability to continue play.
As the defending champion in 2009 , he had to give up in his match against Andy Roddick and retire. It would be probably corny to say that Nole has matured with age just like wine, but looking at the man today with respect to his fitness—there does seem to be an enormous change.
Of course, it was not as though he has become thoroughly fit overnight. He did have fitness problems towards the end of last year with shoulder and back injuries—even retiring against Del Potro in the Davis Cup semifinals last season—and now again at the start of the Australian Open.
Even against Murray in his semifinals, he had shown signs of tiring and pain. But, when once the same pain would have made him give it up, he ploughed on and completely turned around the match before collapsing on the court with a mammoth five-set victory.
It’s an often mentioned fact that Djokovic gave up on gluten and starch in order to achieve greater levels of competency. But one more thing that came to light about his training before the start of the Australian Open, was about him undertaking some special breathing exercises to better aid in his performance.
To take up any endeavour, one requires systematic planning and a thorough idea about executing the same. Defending tournaments isn’t easy, especially in tennis where fitness and the nature of the sport take a physical toll on the body.
To Nole’s credit, after years and years of speculation about his professional maturity and after observing him dominate unequivocally for one whole year, it can be said that the Serb has come to age—and quite splendidly at that.