Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 21 April 2015

Wimbledon: Novak Djokovic claims supreme reward

Serbia's Novak Djokovic celebrates winning the Wimbledon men's title
Serbia's Novak Djokovic celebrates winning the Wimbledon men's title
Russia's Maria Sharapova - Wimbledon 2011
Belarus' Victoria Azarenka - Wimbledon 2011
Ball boys and girls arrive - Wimbledon 2011
Staff at Blair Drummond Safari Park near Stirling get behind local boy Andy Murray - Wimbledon 2011
Charles Delevigne (L) and Princess Beatrice - Wimbledon 2011
Singer Katherine Jenkins (L) and TV personality Gethin Jones - Wimbledon 2011
Denise Lewis - Wimbledon 2011
LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 01: Tennis fans watch Andy Murray practice on Day Eleven of the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on July 1, 2011 in London, England. (Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images)
Rafael Nadal of Spain signs autographs for fans - Wimbledon 2011
LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 01: The roof on Centre Court is tested on Day Eleven of the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on July 1, 2011 in London, England. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France faces Novak Djokovic of Serbia on Centre Court before Andy Murray of Great Britain meets Rafael Nadal of Spain in today's men's semifinals. (Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images) (Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images)
Wimbledon 2011
Lines are re-painted on Centre Court - Wimbledon 2011
3D cameras are prepared on Centre Court - Wimbledon 2011
Rufus the resident Harris Hawk keeps Centre Court pigeon free - Wimbledon 2011
Tennis fans camp in a field adjacent to the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club - Wimbledon 2011
Sabine Lisicki of Germany - Wimbledon 2011
Kveta Peschke of Czech Republic (L) and Katarina Srebotnik of Slovenia in action - Wimbledon 2011
Richard Branson - Wimbledon 2011
NBA basketball player Sasha Vujacic - Wimbledon 2011
Scott Mitchell and Barbara Windsor - Wimbledon 2011
Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republics - Wimbledon 2011
Gloria Hunniford and Sir Cliff Richard - Wimbledon 2011
Novak Djokovic of Serbia - Wimbledon 2011
Groundsmen on Centre Court prepare the grass - Wimbledon 2011
Ball Boys and Girls relax - Wimbledon 2011
A sniffer dog search the grounds - Wimbledon 2011
Wimbledon 2011
Michael Middleton and Pippa Middleton
Rafael Nadal of Spain takes a break - Wimbledon 2011
Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic - Wimbledon 2011
Dominika Cibulkova of Slovakia - Wimbledon 2011
LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 28: Tennis spectators wait under umbrellas and rain gear as rain delays play on Day Eight of the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on June 28, 2011 in London, England. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 28: A general view of court 1 as rain delays play on Day Eight of the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on June 28, 2011 in London, England. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
Actor Rob Brydon (C) and golfer Colin Montgomerie (back R) - Wimbledon 2011
Golfer Rory McIlroy - Wimbledon 2011
Andy Murray takes a break - Wimbledon 2011
Sabine Lisicki of Germany - Wimbledon 2011
Golfer Rory McIlroy - Wimbledon 2011
Princess Beatrice (L) and Dave Clark - Wimbledon 2011
Wimbledon 2011
Tennis players Andy Murray (L) and John McEnroe - Wimbledon 2011
Victoria Azarenka of Belarus (R) kisses Tamira Paszek of Austria - Wimbledon 2011
Golfer Rory McIlroy meets tennis players Andy Murrayand John McEnroe at Wimbledon
Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge and Prince William, Duke of Cambridge participate in the wave during the fourth round match between Rafael Nadal of Spain and Juan Martin Del Potro of Argentina
Great Britain's Andy Murray cools down in his match against France's Richard Gasquet - Wimbledon 2011
Mirka Federer attends the second round match between Roger Federer of Switzerland and Adrian Mannarino of France - Wimbeldon 2011
LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 23: Rain delays play on Day Four of the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on June 23, 2011 in London, England. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland - Wimbledon 2011
LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 23: Lleyton Hewitt fans cheerduring the second round match between Lleyton Hewitt of Australia and Robin Soderling of Sweeden on Day Four of the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on June 23, 2011 in London, England. (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)
Tamira Paszek of Austria - Wimbledon 2011
Ana Ivanovic of Serbia - Wimbledon 2011
Tamira Paszek of Austria - Wimbledon 2011
Sir Bruce Forsyth and his wife Wilnelia arrive in the Royal Box on Centre Court - Wimbledon 2011
Heather Watson of Great Britain - Wimbledon 2011
LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 22: Tennis fans wait out rain delay on Day Three of the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on June 22, 2011 in London, England. (Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images)
Actress Kim Cattrall watches the second round match between Venus Williams of the United States and Kimiko Date-Krumm of Japan - Wimbledon 2011
Kimiko Date-Krumm of Japan - Wimbledon 2011
Venus Williams of the United States - Wimbledon 2011
Rafael Nadal of Spain - Wimbledon 2011
LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 27: Tennis fans queue up to enter the grounds on Day Seven of the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on June 27, 2011 in London, England. (Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 27: Tennis fans lay in the sun while waiting in the queue to enter the grounds on Day Seven of the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on June 27, 2011 in London, England. (Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images)
Wimbledon 2011
LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 27: Tennis spectators sit in the sun on day Seven of the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on June 27, 2011 in London, England. (Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 27: Tennis spectators watch a match over the fence on day Seven of the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on June 27, 2011 in London, England. (Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 27: Tennis spectators sit watch a match on the big screen on day Seven of the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on June 27, 2011 in London, England. (Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 27: A tennis spectators lays under a bench to shade on day Seven of the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on June 27, 2011 in London, England. (Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 27: A tennis spectator looks at her centre court ticket on day Seven of the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on June 27, 2011 in London, England. (Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 24: Tennis spectators watch play of centre court on a on a big screen during rain delay on Day Five of the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on June 24, 2011 in London, England. (Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images)
Actors Rupert Grint (L) and Oliver Phelps attend the third round match between Andy Murray of Great Britain and Ivan Ljubicic of Croatia - Wimbledon 2011
Kim Sears attends the third round match between Andy Murray of Great Britain and Ivan Ljubicic of Croatia - Wimbledon 2011
An honorary steward in the crowd - Wimbledon 2011
Wimbledon 2011
Victoria Azarenka of Belarus - Wimbledon 2011
LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 24: Tennis spectators watch a match through a fence on Day Five of the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on June 23, 2011 in London, England. (Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images)
Russian high jumper Darya Klishina watches the second round match between Maria Sharapova of Russia and Laura Robson of Great Britain - Wimbledon 2011
A fan kisses actor Rupert Grint on the cheek - Wimbledon 2011
LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 24: Grounds staff take a break on Day Five of the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on June 24, 2011 in London, England. (Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 24: Kateryna Bondarenko of Ukraine wipes her face with a towel during her third round match against Nadia Petrova of Russia on Day Five of the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on June 24, 2011 in London, England. (Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images)
Mikhail Youzhny of Russia falls - Wimbledon 2011
Sabine Lisicki of Germany - Wimbledon 2011
Cricketer Steve Davis (L) and Mark Foster - Wimbledon 2011
LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 25: Julia Goerges of Germany reacts during her third round match against Dominika Cibulkova of Slovakia on Day Six of the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on June 25, 2011 in London, England. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 25: Jarmila Gajdosova of Australia in action during her third round match against Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark on Day Six of the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on June 25, 2011 in London, England. (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 25: Mardy Fish of the United States falls to the ground during his third round match against Robin Haase of the Netherlands on Day Six of the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on June 25, 2011 in London, England. (Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images)
Dominika Cibulkova of Slovakia - Wimbledon 2011
LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 25: NBA basketball player Sasha Vujacic watches the third round match between Maria Sharapova of Russia and Klara Zakopalova of the Czech Republic on Day Six of the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on June 25, 2011 in London, England. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 25: Sir Steve Redgrave looks on from the Royal Box prior to the third round match between Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark and Jarmila Gajdosova of Australia on Day Six of the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on June 25, 2011 in London, England. (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 25: Dame Kelly Holmes looks on from the Royal Box prior to the third round match between Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark and Jarmila Gajdosova of Australia on Day Six of the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on June 25, 2011 in London, England. (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 25: Winter olympian Amy Williams looks on from the Royal Box prior to the third round match between Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark and Jarmila Gajdosova of Australia on Day Six of the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on June 25, 2011 in London, England. (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)
Martina Navratilova (2L) and Ashley Cooper (R) look on from the Royal Box - Wimbledon 2011
LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 25: Sir Geoff Hurst looks on from the Royal Box prior to the third round match between Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark and Jarmila Gajdosova of Australia on Day Six of the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on June 25, 2011 in London, England. (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 25: Rafael Nadal of Spain arrives on Day Six of the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on June 25, 2011 in London, England. (Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 25: A tennis fan naps while waiting in the queue to get into the grounds on Day Six of the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on June 25, 2011 in London, England. (Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 26: Andy Murray of Great Britain looks on during a practice session during Middle Sunday of the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on June 26, 2011 in London, England. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 25: Tennis spectators on Day Six of the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on June 25, 2011 in London, England. (Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 25: Tennis spectators on Day Six of the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on June 25, 2011 in London, England. (Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 25: Tennis spectators on Day Six of the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on June 25, 2011 in London, England. (Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 25: Jelena Ristic watches the third round match between Novak Djokovic of Serbia and Marcos Baghdatis of Cyprus on Day Six of the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on June 25, 2011 in London, England. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 25: Bernard Tomic of Australia signs autographs for fans after winning his third round match against Robin Soderling of Sweden on Day Six of the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on June 25, 2011 in London, England. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 25: A taiwanese fan at the third round match between Yen-Hsun Lu of Taiwan and Michael Llodra of France on Day Six of the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on June 25, 2011 in London, England. (Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images)
Cricket player Sachin Tendulkar
LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 25: Robin Soderling of Sweden receives medical attention during his third round match against Bernard Tomic of Australia on Day Six of the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on June 25, 2011 in London, England. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 25: Serena Williams of the United States signs autographs for fans after winning her third round match against Maria Kirilenko of Russia on Day Six of the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on June 25, 2011 in London, England. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 25: Former professional tennis players Greg Rusedski (L) and Boris Becker attend Day Six of the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on June 25, 2011 in London, England. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 25: Sir Trevor Mcdonald looks on Day Six of the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on June 25, 2011 in London, England. (Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 25: A British tennis fan attends Day Six of the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on June 25, 2011 in London, England. (Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 27: Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge and Prince William, Duke of Cambridge attend the fourth round match between Andy Murray of Great Britain and Richard Gasquet of France on Day Seven of the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on June 27, 2011 in London, England. (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 27: Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge attends the fourth round match between Andy Murray of Great Britain and Richard Gasquet of France on Day Seven of the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on June 27, 2011 in London, England. (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 27: Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge and Prince William, Duke of Cambridge attend the fourth round match between Andy Murray of Great Britain and Richard Gasquet of France on Day Seven of the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on June 27, 2011 in London, England. (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 27: Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge and Prince William, Duke of Cambridge attend the fourth round match between Andy Murray of Great Britain and Richard Gasquet of France on Day Seven of the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on June 27, 2011 in London, England. (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)

Novak Djokovic will, it seems reasonable to say, always be one of those men destined to spend many of his days along the narrow line between joy and sorrow. But if this can be a hard existence it sometimes also brings a supreme reward.

It can give you the exhilaration that less extreme, impassioned characters will never know — and it can also bestow the kind of sublime experience Djokovic fashioned on the Centre Court yesterday when he not only beat Rafa Nadal, arguably the most ferociously committed tennis player the world has ever known, but at times seemed to be introducing him quite brutally to a new game.

The game that has brought Nadal 10 Grand Slam titles is wonderfully strong, filled with a passion that rejects out of hand the concept of defeat.

Yesterday, though, it foundered against a dimension that Djokovic sometimes inhabits, uniquely even, in the era he shares with such giants as the deposed champion Nadal and Roger Federer, who is generally agreed to be the greatest of all tennis players.

Nadal (pictured) was simply broken apart by a quality of the 24-year-old Serb who this morning is officially installed as the world's number one ranked player.

The honour comes from a year of astonishingly consistent play, one which brought a run of 43 victories — including four against Nadal — but its meaning inevitably shrivels against the reality of Djokovic's achievement when he won his third Grand Slam title 6-4, 6-1, 1-6, 6-3 in two hours, 29 minutes yesterday.

For many seasoned observers, the precise accomplishment was to go to the very borders of what has previously been considered possible on a tennis court.

All through the tournament he had shown evidence of his potential to occupy new terrain, to play shots from the most improbable angles, to volley his way into situations at the net which guaranteed the most spectacular, even surreal action.

In the second round, against the towering South African Kevin Anderson, he produced a passing shot so extraordinary that his celebration sent him flying into the air.

Over the days his eyes have flashed with both ecstasy and the extremes of frustration and yesterday, even as he marched to what he described as his 'most precious dream,' there was still much turbulence. However, there was also a burst of perfect tennis that seemed to carry him into a zone which had a population of just one.

Nadal, who had produced much of his trademarked combativeness in the first set, that force which had so overwhelmed the nerve of Andy Murray last Friday evening, was reduced almost to the role of a spectator.

The ground shots that can turn so many opponents into the consistency of tomato puree were contemptuously swatted away by the champion-elect.

There were so many moments when the Centre Court, filled with partisans of Nadal except for a few joyous Serbians who were last heard singing into the twilight, gasped, along with Nadal, at the scale of the brilliance.

He hit the lines in a stream of virtuosity and nerve that tore apart the idea that this was a finely balance duel between the world's two best players. It was that for a little while, and briefly it would become so again in the third set, but at the heart of the final we had a rout.

Later Nadal suggested that he didn't see much point in disputing the level of the challenge Djokovic had placed at his feet.

‘Yes, thank you, I know,' he said when it was pointed out that this was his fifth defeat at the hand of the Serb this year.

‘Well,' he added, 'when one player beats you five times it is because my game doesn't bother him a lot. Today probably against me he's playing better than my level. I have to find solutions and that's what I have to try and that's what I'm gonna try.

It is a huge project and a sense of the size of it could be read easily into the expression Nadal took from the Centre Court. The most gracious of losers, the man from Mallorca extended the usual courtesies to his conqueror — “I was against the best player in the world” — but yesterday the usual issues of winning and losing seemed to run a little more deeply.

This one involved not just a correction of some technical weaknesses but the very basis on which the game of today is played. As exemplified by Djokovic, it is a game of high risk, and high reward, and at its heart is the belief that who dares most consistently is likely to accumulate most success.

On the court and in the mind, yesterday it came from the man who later declared that he was born to win Wimbledon.

It is a presumption unlikely to be challenged for some time.

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