Sunday, January 29, 2012

Novak Djokovic: a different type of number 1

In epic fashion, Novak Djokovic won his third Australian Open, this time over Rafael Nadal, in a five-setter for the ages.

It wasn't easy as the two played the longest Grand Slam final in the Open Era.

But then again, when is it ever easy for Djoko?

He's not the big server that Pete Sampras was, nor does he yank guys around the court like Andre Agassi or Nadal. Obviously, he can do those things or else he wouldn't be where he is now; I just don't think they're the defining qualities of his run at the top.

Rather, what seems to really set him apart is his ability to generate big shots at the most crucial times: How many times in the past year has he escaped from the brink of defeat? And more often than not, it's because he's blasting winners from match or break point down.

To me, during his run, he epitomizes that old phrase, "heart of a champion." He fights and fights, and that has paid off for him tremendously. I really thought the end of last year was just going to be the start of a slide back to normalcy for Djokovic, but this Aussie run erased the rough post-U.S. Open stretch he had--and sets the tone for 2012.

(Photo: Getty Images)