Sunday 17 December 2017

‘Too good’ Djokovic goes out on a limb in masterclass

Serbia's Novak Djokovic
Serbia's Novak Djokovic

Oliver Brown

Bernard Tomic had to be congratulated on his candour. The Australian, as if dazed by his schooling at the hands of human metronome Novak Djokovic, was not about to put any platitudinous spin on the 6-3, 6-3, 6-3 scoreline in the defending champion’s favour.

“The score looked a lot closer than it was,” he said. “I can’t even describe it in words. Too good, too good.”

Almost too good to be true, perhaps. Djokovic turned this match into an exclamation point upon his supremacy as world No 1, unloading 15 aces and keeping Tomic pinned so far behind the baseline he might as well have been in a different postal district.

Once he was finished with these three sets of symmetrical excellence, he even discharged his role as diplomat to perfection, staying so long for his autographs session that he ended up signing one man’s artificial leg.

“That’s probably the first time I have signed a prosthetic limb,” said Djokovic. “I hope my signature will bring him some luck.”


He need not have worried. It is likely that the gentleman headed home as gratified as the other 20,000 souls to have been in the presence of such greatness. For if the top seed was seeking to give rivals reminders of his alpha-male qualities, this was a masterclass, full of cute angles and destructive groundstrokes.

“It shows you why he’s the best,” Tomic reflected. “I learn a lot every time I play Novak – it’s a great honour. It’s at the stage where, if I want to be in the top five in the world, I need to work hard. Novak just demonstrates what you can do on the court.”

Djokovic, having purged the French Open final defeat that cost him the opportunity of a calendar Grand Slam, has rarely appeared more content with a performance.

He hailed the influence of coach Boris Becker, who has imparted to him the type of uncompromising mindset that propelled him to back-to-back titles here aged just 18.

“It’s important to have the right chemistry,” Djokovic said of the partnership. “For Boris and I, it took some time. I knew that it would take a while for us to get on the same kind of frequency, to start making big results.”

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