By Greg Couch
Novak Djokovic thinks he has done all he can. But he hasn’t. He has beaten Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal in the biggest matches at the most important places. He has passed them both as the No. 1 player. But it isn’t enogh. He does not have their spot in history.
And he doesn’t know why. Here’s why: It’s an attitude, an aura, a presence. Djokovic hasn’t shown it, or maybe he doesn’t have it. We’ll see Sunday. This is his chance. In Sunday’s U.S. Open final against Federer, there is a direct path between Djokovic and the spot in history that he craves. I hope he sees it because that path is on a line, about 125 mph. . .
Right into Roger Federer’s chest. If Djokovic doesn’t see this, then he’s destined to always be just The Other Guy. That said, I’m predicting here that he sees it, or that coach Boris Becker has told him. This is to predict intense fireworks and controversy today and ESPN debate.
This is to predict that when Federer does his little SABR move — Sneak Attack By Roger — and charges forward to the service box during Djokovic’ serve, Djokovic is going to muscle up and pound his serve right at Federer. He’s going to hit Tennis God with a power serve, and people will be outraged at Djokovic for what they’ll see as pettiness and a lack of sportsmanship.
It will be neither of those things. He absolutely, positively has to do it. He cannot buckle under in excessive respect to Federer. People find Federer’s SABR to be a cute and fun tactic. What it actually is is an insult to the person serving. It is Federer putting his thumbs in his ears and sticking his tongue out at his opponent.
It is Federer saying “Yes, I know you think you have control and power of the moment right now with your serve, but I can run right up to the box you’re hitting into and handle it. No problem.”
It is Federer daring Djokovic: You don’t want me up here? Then do something about it.