July 8, 2014 by Parveer Mann
After nearly four hours of scintillating tennis that included his typical slides, slips and momentum shifts, Novak Djokovic came away with his second Wimbledon crown, first Grand Slam title in 18 months and the relief that only comes with erasing recent history. The stories of missed opportunities and self-doubt will suddenly take a backseat as pundits will once again try to repurpose Novak Djokovic and his place going forward.
Even though Novak had not won a slam since Melbourne last year, he had arguably been involved in every important Grand Slam match since. The 2013 French Open semi-final against Nadal with the controversial net point, the marathon against Juan Martin Del Potro that preceded his historic match with Andy Murray at last year’s Championships and Stan’s breakthrough against him in Australia this year. Unfortunately, the connective tissue in all those matches was the fact that Novak would take a backseat to each of those players in the biggest moments. Everytime you saw him wilt, you got the same gut feeling you get when you know a player does not or cannot execute the game plan they so deeply desire.
Obviously, he didn’t need to be reminded going into this final that he had lost three straight Grand Slam finals because I assure you he was well aware. The move to bring on Boris Becker earlier this year all seemed part of a larger objective to gain any competitive knowledge he could to prepare him for moments that only arise during Grand Slam finals. So after losing that 5-2 edge in the fourth set, I don’t know what changed or what he applied to his game but fact is that he found a way to play better than Roger Federer in the fifth set on Sunday and not take that backseat.
“At the time of my career for this Grand Slam trophy to arrive is crucial, especially after losing several finals in a row. I started doubting, so I needed this win a lot. I’m going to try to use it in the best possible way and for my confidence to grow for the rest of my season and the rest of my career.” – Novak Djokovic, wimbledon.com
Sometimes doing it once is enough to erase those many other close calls and moments that prevented you from reaching your goals.
It is always easy to try to rebrand someone after a significant victory but things will change for Novak and most won’t be on the tennis court. He’ll become a husband and father soon and he’ll surely have to face the challenges that entails. But as a tennis player, he approaches that stage of his life with a renewed confidence and assurance that his efforts are paying off. He starts another period as world number one and continues to be the prototype for the all-around player. It is not hard to see him competing in multiple Slam finals these next few years and without the pressure of a losing streak, we may even see a more confident and relaxed Novak poised to reign for the foreseeable future.