Simon Reed

Djokovic better than I thought

Simon Reed

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After Novak Djokovic's stunning win at Wimbledon we
have to accept that the tennis landscape has changed.

I have to admit, I didn't think Novak was that
good. I didn't think he was that good at the start of the year; I didn't think
he was that good when Wimbledon started; and I didn't he was going to be that
good over five sets at Wimbledon.

Even when it came to the final, I thought Rafa was
going to win because I felt it was all going to mean too much to Djokovic and
the occasion might get to him.

Also, despite Djokovic having won their last four
meetings, I still felt that Nadal was the better grass court player, so for
Novak to go on and win the way he did really stunned me.

Not only did he win, but it was a pretty convincing
win too. I've never seen Nadal look as down as he did at the press conference
afterwards, you could see the defeat really got to him. It was a win that put
down a real marker and the top four have now been put firmly in their place.

Djokovic is now comfortably the world number one;
Nadal is comfortably number two and they are both well clear of number three
(Federer) who is well clear of number four (Murray).

It is like a two-mile horse race with all of them a
good distance apart.

How has Djokovic turned so suddenly from a very
good player into undisputedly the world's best?

Well he hasn't said it categorically, but what I've
heard is that he had a big sit down with his coach Marian Vajda, and Vajda told
him a few home truths about what exactly he needed to do in the next couple of
years to fulfil his potential.

Djokovic could have shirked that challenge but
instead he knuckled down and took the next step.

While he has certainly physically matured, there
has been an even greater change in his mental attitude. That hangdog expression
he used to have which screamed 'why do bad things always happen to me' is gone.

I think when you put that in tandem with the way he
led Serbia to Davis Cup victory then you have a player and a person who is so
much more mature than he was a couple of years ago.

Djokovic has got himself into a situation where
success breeds success, and winning breeds winning, and that multiplication
effect is very difficult for his opponents to stop.

My prediction for the tournament was of course
Roger Federer and I have to admit to being astonished at the way that he went

As I watched the match unfold everything seemed to
be in fine working order but you have to give credit to Jo-Wilfred Tsonga - I
feel he played three of the best sets played by anyone during the two weeks at
Wimbledon; certainly the three best sets he has ever played in his life

However, I was still surprised there was no
reaction from Roger.  I would not say
that he lacked fight, that is too strong a word.  I know he was fighting like the devil in the
inside, but it just got to a stage in the match where Tsonga was unstoppable.

You could say that Roger has lost some
self-confidence but I think it is more a case now of other people believing
that they can pick him off. Three years ago there was probably no way that
Tsonga would have thought there was any way back for him in the match after
going two sets down.

I'm still convinced that Roger is a better player
now than he was at this time last year but the trouble is the other guys have
moved on faster.

I really felt that this was a good chance for
Federer to make a statement and get right back in the mix to be one of the top
dogs, but I'm not so sure he can do that anymore.

It's a shame because up until that point I think he
was playing the best tennis of the tournament - better than Rafa and Novak - and
he even produced two great sets against Tsonga but I was amazed he went on and
lost the match.

And then of course we come to Andy Murray and I
think we are now going to have to get used to the fact that it may never happen
for him.

Rafael Nadal has said that Murray "is the best
player of all-time who has never won a Grand Slam" and - as much as Murray
would hate to finish his career with that 'honour' - that may be his ultimate

I hope I'm wrong, but it is starting to look like a
50-50 shot at best that he will win a Grand Slam. Especially when you consider
he has got some lucky draws over the past two years - that may not continue.

One thing he needs to do is to hang onto that
number four ranking at the very least because if he goes to number five then
things will get even harder.

He and Federer are the same sort of flight path at
the moment - I actually think both of them are improving on their form of the
last couple of years but the problem is Nadal and especially Djokovic are
improving much faster.

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