Today’s recommended reading:
Everything You Can Imagine – by Steve Tignor (tennis.com)
When Federer plays Nadal, Federer’s fans ask, “Why isn’t he more aggressive? Why doesn’t he do this, or that, or something else?” It looks like he should be winning. When Nadal plays Djokovic, Nadal’s fans ask the same exasperated questions. It’s not so easy. Djokovic hits with deceptive weight and accuracy, and he’s better than anyone at forcing Nadal to hit his backhand. He’s always going to have the advantage when he does that. When Nadal plays Federer, he can play his game, while his opponent must find a solution. When Nadal plays Djokovic, the roles are reversed. It’s Nole’s who’s comfortable, and Rafa who’s searching.
True. Against Fed, Rafa has a game plan that is comfortable, natural and works. Against Nole, Rafa doesn’t have a game plan that is comfortable, natural, and works. He has to feel confident enough to go out of his comfort zone.
I felt bad for Rafa as he shook hands with Djokovic. I wondered how he would get that missed pass out of his mind. I wondered if he would break down in tears on the trophy stand.
We got none of that. What we got instead were words that spoke to why you play the sport in the first place—for matches like this, even when you lose them. In my favorite moment of the evening, Rafa raised and shook his second-place plate with a sad pride.
“When you are with passion for the game,” Nadal said, “when you are ready to compete, you are able to suffer and enjoy suffering, no?”
But it isn’t just a feeling you have on a tennis court, and it isn’t something, in Rafa’s mind, that only star athletes can understand. It’s there for anyone who wants to try for something greater.
And it is that spirit, that ability to keep going on despite the odds, pain, and tough opposition while actually enjoying it that makes me admire people. I’m a wuss. I tend to flee as soon as things get difficult. I honestly can’t imagine seeing a huge challenge and getting excited about tackling it. These guys shame me and make me want to be a better person.
- Challenged again, Novak Djokovic finds another gear in Australian Open final – by Courtney Nguyen (si.com)
- Novak Djokovic’s win over Rafael Nadal is as good as tennis gets – by Diane Pucin (LA Times)
- Djoker has the trump card as marathon men’s final crowns a record Open – by Greg Baum (Sydney Morning Herald). Includes a short video reel.
- Novak Djokovic beats Rafael Nadal in longest Grand Slam final in history – by Chris Chase (yahoo.com). Includes a few seconds of Rafa’s presser – including the “too long, just highlights” joke.
- How The Australian Open Final Was Won – by James Buddell (atpworldtour.com)
- Rafael Nadal upbeat despite defeat by Novak Djokovic – from the BBC
- The match was so epic, it needs three photo galleries on the AO site: one, two, and three.
- A lot of match photos from Zimbo.
- Rafael Nadal v Novak Djokovic – in pictures – via The Guardian
- Rafa & Laver
- flickr photosets from: Sydney Low; tlaenpix; tastigr
Finally, some additional presser pictures:
Photos by AP Photo/Andrew Brownbill and REUTERS/Darren Whiteside