What’s the matter with the Serb, some ask. Do I not see past the seven-figure earnings that this man is earning and will he be able to contend against the titans of the sport in the years to come? Is this a player that simply has too much talent to fail? These are only some of the questions that come to the mind of tennis fans that are watching the match between Djokovic and Roger Federer. To date, Djokovic has defeated Federer once, but there is no telling if he has the skill to do it again.
That being said, let us examine exactly what separates a good tennis player from a great one, and two wins away from greatness. Djokovic has a very high level of mental discipline and athleticism. He has beaten the best of the best at three of the five major tennis tournaments. All this while playing on an up-and-coming virtual platform that has allowed him to reach the semi-finals before. When comparing him to players like Federer or Nadal, there are 3 factors that separate the two of them that will give you an idea of what to expect when they step on the tennis court.
The most important thing to note about Djokovic as he tries to defeat Nadal in the French open is that he will not be relying solely on his serve to win the match. Djokovic likes to get out on the break early, and with two easy setups, he will likely get a break to start the second set. However, Federer has beaten Djokovic twice in a grueling five-set match back in the Swiss Alps, proving that the Serb cannot take his lead from the beginning. Federer also knows that Djokovic is a smart opponent who often doubles up on the break. This should give the Swiss legend enough time to create several setpoint advantages over the Serb.
Djokovic has a weakness against a topspin, especially from Pauliello and Roger Spain. He does not have the footwork to challenge these service providers, as well as the range and power to go to their backhand side to finish the point. Spain, too, has great footwork but doesn’t have the agility to challenge Djokovic at point-blank. Neither player is known for their forehand or backhand serve, so either forces their opponent into errors or force them to play defense. If either does that, then the Swiss legend has them beat.
If there is one thing consistent about Djokovic that comes across in his matches, it’s his willingness to sacrifice his body to win a match. When he was down 2 set to set against Roger Federer in the quarter-finals of the US Open, he started to get frustrated, throwing his serve into the air as he fought to force the Serb off the baseline. When the set went on, Djokovic calmed down and tried to attack serve after serve. Eventually, Federer won the set and the match, forcing Djokovic to reel in a break early in the second set.
It seemed as though Djokovic was going to get outclassed in this match. But unlike earlier games where he was caught up in the momentum of the match, Djokovic controlled the pace of the second set and fought back to level terms at 4-all. The set was well contested, but with two points off the board, it was just like any other game. Djokovic broke open the match with a break of serve and set up a break of his own. This time, though, Roger Federer did not have what it takes to stop Djokovic at the break. Djokovic added another pair of singles and forced Federer to call time.
With four sets going, the match seemed to be slipping away for Djokovic. But then he battled back using an impressive match-winning serve and broke Richter with a forehand return of the winning single. This was good for him, but not good enough to keep Federer out. Federer held on for another sensational match.
This was a tremendous upset. This set the tone for the rest of the finals. This set the stage for Djokovic to go into the finals having beaten twice as many grand Prix champions as anyone else in the world. This shows that there is no stopping the great Novak Djokovic. This is a man who has a clear path to becoming the first-ever US Open men’s singles champion. He now looks every bit the equal of anyone else in tennis.