Sometimes the other guy is just a little bit better.
And that is what happened to Roger Federer tonight. No excuses. No rhyme, no especial reason. Novak Djokovic just played better than him tonight. And that is tennis.
Federer didn't play his bestest match ever, but even if his level had been a little higher, I don't know what would have happened. Novak Djokovic played better than I have ever seen him tonight. He was a backboard in some points - I don't know what his unforced error count was, but I bet it was pretty low - and in others he ripped some spectacular winners. His forehand has long been lauded as his weaker wing - it did not seem weak tonight, when he hit crosscourt forehands with consummate ease.
His serve was a weapon. His backhand was sublime. Djokovic played like a man who deserved to win the match - and he deserved every bit of it. It's no secret that I'm not exactly his biggest fan, but there is not one element of his game I can fault tonight. He was the better player on the court, plain and simple. And after three years, it might finally be his turn again to win a Grand Slam.
It's strange to be in a world where Roger Federer does not hold a Grand Slam title - but it's not necessarily a bad thing. Roger has been on top for so long - now he has things to work towards, new mountains to climb. It can be depressing or it can be exciting, and I choose the latter. And there is a particular year in my mind - 2009. In that year, Roger didn't win the Australian Open either - but look at how it turned out.
But even if Roger never won another title ever, he would still be my favourite player ever. There is no loss that can take away what he has done and what he is.
So I can remain upbeat about this loss. He was outplayed. This is tennis. It happens. And he is the greatest tennis player ever. He has a lot of career left in which to play beautiful, wonderful tennis, perhaps win another couple of Slams, and to generally continue being awesome in.
Congratulations, Novak. All the best for the final. And Roger - we'll see you again soon.
Roger: older and not quite out
6 months ago