"He played great. I mean, I would have liked to have played better. But, you know, I think he would have beaten every other player on the tour if he played like that tonight."
To quote @crystaleyed: That's not not an excuse. That's a fact.
Much will be made about Andy Murray's performance tonight. People will ask questions, they will recycle pieces from their file cabinets that haven't even had time to gather dust, they will heap negativity on the pasty dude, calling for new coaches, new gameplans, hell, they'll probably find a way to weave Maggie into their list ot Top 10 Reasons Why Andy Murray is an Embarassment as a Tennis Player, a Brit, and a Human Being.
They will do all this at the expense of Novak Djokovic, who, as Andy observed, would have beaten anyone tonight.
He. Was. Ridonkulous. It was insane. His movement and ability to hit no look backhand defensive lobs that clipped the back of the line was jaw-dropping. Andy was yanking him all around the court and Novak would just not. stop. running. It was truly a masterful performance from Novak, who is clearly riding a wave of confidence that shows no signs of cresting. The Falcon is flying, and just like those seagulls that circle Rod Laver Arena every night, he's shitting on everyone.
One of the first thoughts I had walking back to the media center after the match was, "Man. I cannot wait to see him play Roger again on hard courts." Call me crazy, but based on what I've seen of Novak over the past month, I dare say he's clicked into a new gear, one that none of us knew he had. By my sleep-addled brain, he may just be the best hard-court player in the game.
All week, Nole's been describing the version of himself that picked up his first Slam title as "a 20-year-old kid who just closed his eyes and hit the ball as hard as he could." Three years later he's matured into a completely different player. You can see the intelligence in how he sets up rallies, his willingness to engage in a war of variety with Moose, and his improved speed and strength when he was pulled wide on defense. He believes in his body and he believes that he can hang in on defense to work the point in his favor. How many times against Roger and Andy did we see him get his outside leg outside and behind the ball and have such strength and balance as to allow him to either whip it cross-court up, down the line, or up for a lob. Remarkable. The balance in his game between patience and aggression seems to flow so naturally now that when he does decide (on a handful of points) to pull the trigger too early, it's actually jarring.
Here's hoping his win tonight and his dominant performance throughout the fortnight (6 straight sets over Fed and Moose!) remove all question marks that commentators have been quick to attach to him. Not fit enough, not mentally strong enough, too emotional to his detriment, weak server, not clutch. All that is bullshit now.
If you're not talking about Novak Djokovic right now, you're missing out on the story.
(Pics: Getty, Reuters)