Epic Final – Australian Open 2012

when the joker tamed a raging and wounded (at heart) bull.

Its proven! Till the time Djoker is fit and playing grand slams, Rafa can’t win a grand slam. I can say this after witnessing a historic match. Whats more, Rafa has got a new title, the only man in open era to have lost 3 grand slam titles consecutively. Despite 6 attempts to overcome the joker in 2011, Rafa failed. The only player to have defeated a healthy Djokovic was the one and only Roger Federer.

When the day had dawned, I was recovering from the recent loss of Roger against Rafa in the semifinal. It was definitely Djokovic’s day, given the recent clash results in 2011. But Rafa is known for his fighting spirit, so it could be anyone’s match.

Adversity tests the true character of a champion. Rafa’s true colours came out during this match. Read more to know what I think are Rafa’s true colours.

The first set displayed the motor skills of both men.  I was very much relieved to see that Djokovic was moving around freely, without signs of his breathing problem or fatigue from the Friday semifinal match against Andy Murray. Djokovic needed to be his 100% otherwise a player like Rafa would capitalize on his weakness.

Rafa on the other hand changed his strategy. He was always deep down the baseline, which made him treat Djokovic’s powerful cross court shots as mere shots and convert them into winners. Rafa will break him once in the first set, Djokovic breaks even, then Rafa breaks him back, all this is happening in the first set, mind you.

Djokovic comes back during the second and especially the third set. What worked for him was that he was connecting the shots well in these sets and making lesser unforced errors. His romance with the baselines and the border-lines continues. His shots drop just perfectly on or before the line but rarely away from the line.

Rafa takes the match to another level in 4th and 5th set, with an attitude “if you want the title, you gotta earn it the hardway”.Thats exactly how Djoker won it, the HARD way. Baseline winners are not so easy. What a thrill to the match point rally build up.

Rafa’s true colour comes out during the fourth and fifth set. He fights with all his fuel, puts everything down to each and every point, however does one thing that world-class tennis players would never resort to. Even Djokovic feels so. Rafa serves, there is no fault call, djoker returns, rafa continues to play the rally, but at the end of the point which Rafa has lost, he walks to the referee and checks on the service error. This is not gentlemen’s tennis, this is school kids level. Winning is important for everyone, but one needs to go by the books too. Calling a service error challenge after you finish playing your point? So if Rafa would have won the point, he would have been ok with the service call. This is why I can never like Rafa, despite all his hard work and contribution to the game.

Roger Federer would never do such a thing, and its a pity people compare the great Roger to a human Rafa!

— Varun Mannava Gowtham

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