Very much so. When he’s not playing well, all that stands out is his ability to pull the splits, his speed. And that rock solid backhand. He’s been injured, changed his coaches, tinkered too much with his serve and game generally. Partly to compensate for injury, partly ‘too many cooks spoil the broth’. last but not least, even When he was dominant, he also wasted a lot of time and effort trying to be a loved figure like fed, or even nadal. Instead, he got typecast as the villain, and his few outbursts for blown up, and he was spending too much time and effort on the PR exercise, not just off court, but on it, to his detriment. He’s a quirky guy, a bit nuts, and passionate, and ended up being very wooden, trying not to express his emotions. This match with Nadal, he was much freer. Both men played with awesome conviction, great grass court tennis, with touch, technique athleticism, court-craft and power. There was nothing in it, it was just a question of who blinked first. This time it was nadal. This was an immense gut-check for novak. This week it’s been clear his game is firing. But it’s being able to execute under pressure. Stuffing top 50 in the world players should be routine for him, but it hasn’t been. Once that box was ticked physical, was all about the mental side – the hunger and desire. Today was a test of whether his head was in the right place, and he wouldn’t have took a set off rafa unless it was. even if he doesn’t win the final somehow, novak is back.
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