The dream is over for Novak Djokovic. The hangover from 2011 is done. 2012 hasn't exactly been sweet for Djokovic. In fact, had Rafael Nadal not missed that backhand at 4:2-30:15 in Melbourne, 2012 would have been a disaster.
I have always felt that the mental game for Novak was his biggest weakness when compared to Roger Federer and Nadal. Of course, Nadal is miles ahead of both Djokovic and Federer in that department. But Federer isn't weak in that department either. A guy who's knocking on the doors of his 17th grand slam victory can't be mentally weak.
But in those years when Djokovic was No. 3 in the world and always losing to Nadal and Federer, he just did not believe in himself.
I am not suggesting Novak is not mentally stronger than those years. But when he was match point down against Roger in the US Open last year, I felt that that cross-court forehand he hit was more in frustration at the crowd reaction. It was a shot that was hit knowing that he had nothing to lose.
Whether he truly believed that he was going to win the match from there, is something I really doubt. That is where I feel Novak is very different from Roger and Rafa.
Novak is a great player, make no mistake. And he will make many more tough matches in the future. But for him to win Wimbledon and the other grand slams, he is going to have to get rid of this defeatist, negative attitude.
Make no mistake, he is nowhere in the same negative zone that Andy Murray was all those years. In fact, with the union with Ivan Lendl, it finally appears that Murray may have come out of that.
In the match today, Novak was tight right from the outset. Federer played the best match of his life since that semifinal at the 2011 French Open. But in these tough matches, it is hard enough to beat a top player, and Novak's tightness at the beginning of the match, and a general lack of belief in himself, played a huge part in him not being able to defend his Wimbledon crown.
Novak Djokovic still has to mature. Yes, even after the greatest year a tennis player could have had in the open era, since he is playing in an era with two of the best players that any era could have ever seen.