Anyone who witnessed this morning’s Australian Open final will be glad they made the effort.
At times the tennis of the six-hour duel was not worthy of the classic contest it has already been labelled, but the sheer desire and resolve of both Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal marked the match out as one of the best seen in a long time.
It’s still only 12 months since a transformed Djokovic became the most talked about man in the tennis world – no mean feat considering that Nadal and Roger Federer were still dominating the circuit at the time – and the Serb has now won his last seven meetings against his Spanish counterpart. Nadal was unlucky to miss out on Sunday, but the loss will still hurt.
Federer, once King of all Courts, has been sidelined in Djokovic’s charge to the top but remains a potent force against the majority of players and it’s only when you look at all three men, that you notice how lucky tennis is right now. How many sports can convincingly argue that their top three brands are as wholesome, well-mannered and respected as Djokovic, Nadal and Federer?
The Tour is far from perfect with Nadal now due to take some time off to recuperate fully from the injuries that plagued his efforts to get back on terms with Djokovic in the second half of 2011. He had his rival under pressure several times in Melbourne but, apart from a handful of weary-looking games, the Serb looked that little bit ahead for much of the showpiece.
When we remember the temperamental, even physical frail Djokovic that once entertained us away from the courts, it’s incredible to watch the jester now turned King.