Of great matches and interviews: Understanding Novak Djokovic's train of thought!
"Thank you all for coming, and I hope you enjoyed this match tonight," said Djokovic after demolishing Federer.
On Thursday, world No.1 Novak Djokovic produced probably the best two sets tennis has seen for a long, long time during his Australian Open men's singles semi-final against Roger Federer.
The Serbian spiderman then went onto beat the Swiss maestro in four sets to make yet another final. Here, talking about records it will look like some ludicrous attempt to state the obvious. It's a futile attempt. Because, these last couple of years, it's been Djoker all the way.
The 28-year-old himself admitted, saying “These have been probably the best two sets I’ve played against him, I think, throughout my career. This was a different level.” That pretty much summed up his form of late. He is the unbeaten number one at the moment, while Federer remains the sport's gold standard.
Anyway, it was his 17th consecutive final – dating back to last year's Australian Open. Such a feat doesn't require the obvious statements, the numbers, the milestones. Yes, he missed the Grand Slam, the real Slam, last year by two sets. Still, this level of achievement is rarely witnessed in generations, in any sport.
Yet what comes with his humble admittance was a certain level of arrogance, which many would happily relate to why majority of Thursday's Rod Laver crowd rooted for Federer. At times, it seemed like, the 10-time major winner was playing against the whole stadium, taking on each one of them, in a losing cause, against a firewalled opponent, who soaked in the adulation.
Djokovic won the match, but there's always a sense of defeatism, whenever he comes up against Federer. This certainly is one of tennis' greatest surprises.
After a great match, came a great interview, revealing everything the champion was thinking – before the match, during the match, and also after winning. Following his train of thought, at times, feels like we are going through some Jungian synchronicity, the psychology of the unconscious, dreams et al.
In one part of the interview with American great Jim Courier, Djokovic said "Obviously you play a lot of mind games with yourself, and it is important to always believe that you can play your best, perform your best."
Which was followed by, "It’s important that at the end of the day your convictions are stronger than your doubts." That's another form of pure amplification, as the great Swiss thinker would have conjured up, as advice to any would be champion.
Here, the irony, though, is another Swiss was at the receiving end of that amplification – which came from another world, from Djoker's world.
Coming to the interview, and of course to the arrogance bit – this vice will show it's ugly head at the most inopportune moments, and history has witnessed many a greats falling in it's trap. Yes, it comes in various forms – in seemingly innocuous ways like a toast, a celebration, in this case, in an interview.
During the tete-a-tete with the ever effusive Courier, Djokovic elaborated everything, from "concentration" to "execution", and of course the "comforting" win.
“I came out with the right intensity, great concentration, I executed everything perfectly, and obviously with a two-set lead, it’s more comforting, but it was a battle in the end,” Djokovic told Courier.
Then the 'great' Serbian, who is also one of the most eloquent players of all time, thanked everyone for witnessing a great match, obviously referring or probably insinuating to his win, and "hoped" everyone enjoyed the match.
“Thank you all for coming, and I hope you enjoyed this match tonight,” he said.
Like interpreting dreams, it's also about finding the right meaning when someone like Djokovic welcomes us in his game, and asks if we had indeed enjoyed the servings.
What happened in Melbourne on January 28 was once in a lifetime experience for any tennis fan, and it demands more than mere archetypal reviews of stats, the epoch-making references etc. It also needed to be seen, how the victor felt about and, how the celebratory words found it's meaning across the spectrum.
There, that's when a prejudicial, egotistical self seemed to have been borne, or rather forced out of a great champion. And when his time comes to stand beside his rivals, Djokovic will demand from himself, whether to accept or reject this other self.
Yes, there was some “bleeding” as stated by the vanquished after the match, and when someone is bleeding we hardly ask how the serving was.
Or will it be read as a confident super-athlete's spontaneous gratitude?