Novak Djokovic's Rise Turns Future Prospects of Nadal and Murray Bleaker

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Novak Djokovic's Rise Turns Future Prospects of Nadal and Murray Bleaker
Michael Regan/Getty Images

How does one go about overshadowing players the caliber of Roger Federer, Andy Murray and Rafael Nadal?

Simple. You do a Novak Djokovic.

You push yourself and your opponent to both your limits, and then say, "You know what, forget this." You then go on to show what appears to be unlimited power, grit and determination.

Is that possible? It certainly shouldn't be.

Much of the story of 2012 was written at the Australian Open. And at the end of that tournament, we learned a number of things.

Firstly, that Djokovic seemed to have enough in reserve to take on any of his three main rivals even if he needed a week's rest and they were as fresh as daisies.

Secondly, that the definition of 'down and out' with regards to Djokovic was obsolete.

Thirdly, and perhaps most poignantly, his tennis game was at a level that none of Nadal, Federer or Murray could depend upon themselves to reach with regularity against Djokovic.

Yesterday's final was simply a stark reminder of those "facts."

Federer began the match in much his usual way—all guns blazing, all systems running, full steam ahead. He broke Djokovic early to lead 3-0 and seemed likely to run away with the set, but that never materialized.

The worrying part next season for Murray and Nadal (and perhaps Federer)—and the slightly disconcerting aspect for me—was how Djokovic, ever the consummate professional, seemed like he was just biding his time.

Faced with an onslaught that would have frightened most, he seemed comfortable and content with himself.

At the time, his comeback looked anything but easy, and absorbing the events in the haze as they were happening, it seemed labored and drastic and epic. However, thinking about it the morning after, it was anything but labored or drastic or epic.

It was cold. It was distant. It was robotic. It seemed as easy as snapping one's finger.

Watching Djokovic last night was like looking at the portrait of a man whose heart, body and soul had been harvested and smelted into working parts, with prerecorded human emotions annexed in and programmed to play at appropriate times.

Such was his mileage and the task he faced, it should have been only vaguely possible to achieve what he did.

There was blood, but given how hard that blue pavement was pounded, it may well have been the court's. There was sweat, but it may well have been the heavy atmosphere of the early part of the match condensing and melting to his whims.

Fully aware that he had it in his power to gravitate the arc of the early exchanges away from Federer into a full circle and back to himself, Djokovic did the trick not once but twice, coming from behind to win both the first and the second sets.

Speaking after the match, Djokovic said:

Whenever I needed to come up with some really good shots - really focus myself and get every ball back in the court - I did that...

Roger Federer summed it up well: "Congratulations to Novak on an amazing tournament and an amazing year. You are the best." [CNN Sport International]

He is the best Roger, and this year, the closest to him doesn't come for miles.

 

What about 2013?

"Djokovic 2.0 is dead, long live the king. Version 3.0 will be released early next year."

Hate to be Nadal coming back.

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