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Is Novak Djokovic the Greatest Defender Ever?

By Pawan Atri    + Follow

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Keywords: Australian Open | Roger-Federer | Rafael-Nadal | Novak-Djokovic | Andy-Murray
Is Novak Djokovic the Greatest Defender Ever?
On Sunday Novak Djokovic rewrote history as he became the first man in the Open Era to accomplish a three-peat of titles at the Australian Open after grinding down world no.3 Andy Murray in an entertaining four-set encounter. The Serb won the tug of war in his 6-7, 7-6, 6-3, 6-2 victory over the Brit and it was his sheer grit, determination and resilience that saw him through the match, even when he was being outstretched, outmaneuvered and over-run by an inspired Murray.

American legend Andre Agassi have claimed that the world no.1 is incomparable among his contemporaries as far as turning defense-into-offence is concerned. He said: “When he’s on defense, he can actually win the point with one shot; that’s an evolution of the game. It’s remarkable to watch him play so far behind the baseline, to watch him play so far inside the baseline, to watch him be so defensive, to watch him be so offensive, watch how he upsets the spin and how he creates his own set of rules out there.”

So, what makes the Belgrade native the preeminent defender in the game or the man most likely to claw his way back even when the chips are down or the fiercest competitor who can turn the tide upside down from a susceptible position? TennisEarth provides you with an in-depth analysis of the Djoker’s mental fortitude and unravel the secrets behind his tenacity that has elevated him to newer heights of greatness.

1. Impenetrable Defense: The Monte Carlo resident’s defense is rock solid – the adversary just can’t pin him down as he is relentless in retrieving almost every ball from the baseline. His ability to reach out to shots that can be winners against most of the challengers gives him a matchless advantage in wearing down opponents and generally is the utmost reason behind his so many triumphs when he was staring down the barrel and still came out on top.

2. Outstanding Movement: The four times Melbourne Park winner is perhaps the finest movers on a hard-court and especially his capacity to slide with such finesse on that surface provides him with that much needed edge against the likes of Roger Federer, Andy Murray and Rafael Nadal. He is light as well as firm on his toes at the same time when he is being run from corner to corner of the court and takes control of the rally once he has that slight opening.

3. Incredible Ball Control and Depth:  The Serbinator is probably the second best in controlling the ball from the racket right behind the masterful Swiss. His talent to hit the strokes right underneath the eyes of his rivals and deep inside the arena – where the ball is kissing or painting the tramlines offers him certain rare opportunities to break his foes’ serves on a regular basis. The depth on his shots is just fantastic and is nightmarish for players who rely on their serves to a great extent as his smack downs fall very close to the feet of his antagonists leaving them with literally no time to think in-between the returns.

4. Embracer of Lengthy Exchanges Novak is the true grasper of long rallies – someone who is willing to toil hard, convalesce and entwine in trading shots from the back of the court. In fact, against Murray as well the top seed was embroiled in brutal swaps of 20 to 26 strokes, and it was him who usually took control of the points from a precarious position by smartly turning defense into offense.

5. Unshakable Confidence: Djokovic is unbelievably strong and decisive psychologically even during the conditions when the wind isn’t blowing in his favor. He remains extremely calm and composed when the player on the other side of the net is showcasing breathtaking tennis. For instance, in the final of the ‘Happy Slam’ against the Scot his resoluteness was at its peak as he saved three break-points in game no.2 of the second set and with that he kept himself in the hunt of defending his crown. He was very much under the gun but received a reprieve from the Londoner, and although he had earned that let-off with some gutsy play there's little doubt that it was the turning point of the match. From there, he went on to take the second set and just a tad later broke Murray’s back by breaking his serve in the third. Once he had put that one in his bag, the fourth simply became a formality.

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US Open, Men Singles  Final
Kei Nishikori (JPN) 0 3 3 3
Marin Cilic (CRO) Winner 3 6 6 6
Nishikori - Cilic    3 - 6    3 - 6    3 - 6   
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