This is an image that nobody thought they would see. Novak Djokovic, in tears in his chair even before the end of the match, in this final which could have definitely placed him at the top of the tennis pantheon. Tears of sadness, of course, as he felt the game slip away with two sets to nothing and 5-4, serve to follow, for Daniil Medvedev. But not only.
They were actually filled with a whole lot of contradictory emotions, stored up during the last eight very intense months and especially during this fortnight at the US Open, the last dizzying step towards a challenge never achieved for more than 50 years: to win the four Grand Slam tournaments the same year. The Serb managed to put words to it after the fact.
The weight of years to fight to find its place
“At the end it was a relief, I was glad it was over because the preparation for the tournament and everything I had to deal with mentally and emotionally over the last two weeks was a lot, a- he said. At the same time, I felt sadness, disappointment, but also gratitude for the audience and for this special moment that was reserved for me. “
The world number 1 continued for a long time, then, to talk about the spectators of the Arthur-Ashe court, who had given him a special welcome from the warm-up, before giving him a loud ovation when he entered the court.
I felt something that I had never felt in my life here in New York. The audience made me feel very special, he told a press conference. I wouldn’t say I was expecting nothing, but the amount of support, energy and love that I received from the viewers… It is something that I will remember forever. They touched my heart. These are the kinds of times we cherish. Yeah, it was just wonderful. “
It’s beautiful, and we feel in these words the weight of years fighting to find a place somewhere between Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. But why, then, can we not help but wonder with him if he really thinks it or if it is not a little overplayed? Precisely for that, for this quest for recognition and respect that his record and his contribution to tennis should bring him. We have already said a lot on the subject, the main point being that it cannot be decreed.
Oh, the Serbian has his fans, very many, but unlike the other two, he also has a whole cohort of people who can’t screw him up. For his personality, his bloodstrokes on the court, his sometimes mystical statements, which can eclipse his funny and affable side, for example the undisputed winner at the “selfiometer” in the Olympic Village this summer in Tokyo.
“I’m not good at convincing people to love me,” he admitted in the New York Times before the start of the US Open. Some people think that I strive to be loved. This is not the case. I’m just a human being who goes through a whole bunch of emotions of varying intensity on the court. I’m just trying to find a way to win. But if you ask me if I like to play in a hostile environment, I will say no, I don’t. I would like to be supported at all times. “
The turning point for Roland?
No doubt he never really will be, but Djokovic has won something all the same this year: the day he supplants Federer and Nadal – because it will happen, probably next year – he will be celebrated at the height of the feat. Wherever it was, whereas until now, he had gotten used to the idea, and us with it, that the public preferred him when he showed his cracks in the defeat, rather than in Robocop of the short or scheming of the breaks. long lasting when back to the wall.
We had a glimpse of it during the last Roland, when he was supported in equal parts with the master of the place during the stratospheric semi-final between the two men. To his astonishment, moreover, what had pushed him to place this meeting in his top 3 in his career. Roland’s audience had also particularly pampered him in his lost final a few years earlier when he finally won the tournament, a year after a traumatic failure against a molten Wawrinka.
In Flushing Meadows, Djokovic says he felt thanks to the spectators an emotion “as strong as winning 21 Grand Slam tournaments”. If it is at this point, the void that escorted him so far must really be immense.