No objection can be made to the game of Novak Djokovic in the end of yesterday. It is, rather, to congratulate him on a level of tennis that is hard to beat. The virtues of Serbian play, especially on this surface, admit little room for improvement. This is practically ruled out when the level of inspiration that was deployed in yesterday's meeting is reached.
From the beginning we saw an opponent willing to attack and play at a high speed. It is true that Rafael's blows were not as accurate as in previous days, but it is also true that each attempt was matched with an even better impact. On many occasions, a good attack from my nephew served as food for a winning return of the Serbian. I do not know if there is a possible tactic against such an inspired opponent.
Once when Johan Cruyff lectured his players, he said: "The best thing that this player does is to stand out, therefore, what you do not have to do is mark him."
Maybe I would have agreed to play more for the center and try a more rubbery game, with longer exchanges. And I do not know if this would have been possible, nor, if it had been enough. A player can win another by making the same type of game but a little better, or by applying a different tactic to that of the opponent. Anyway, at the beginning of the year, the decision was made that Raphael shortened the exchanges in his matches and the consequent was to be faithful to this principle. The rest are pools that we all do on Monday, and on Monday we all usually get it right.
A Djokovic excelso does not admit hesitation. And yesterday my nephew was not able to face it, which would have been possible only by taking the best version of the Rod Laver Arena. Only in this case could we have seen that epic game that, at least, I expected and wanted.
Rafael has played the whole tournament at a very good level. The overwhelming results in all their clashes have been proof of this. He has done more damage with his service, he has been lethal with his right, he has played decisively and very quickly. He has managed to reach the final by spending less time on the track than on other occasions, which is really important for him. I think the result of the final gave the feeling of a wider distance than, in fact, there is. Djokovic touched the perfection and Rafael was less successful than in the rest of the tournament.
I know it is not in good taste to pour praises on a family member, but I would like to explain what I emphasized to them yesterday Sunday afternoon, a few hours after finishing the game, to the boys that I trained in the Rafael Academy. Not even when the third set progressed and everything went very uphill, we saw signs of frustration or abandonment in my nephew. No bad gesture, no complaint, no disapproving look at his box. He fought to the last point as it is fitting to make a person grateful to life and to his fate. He gave his hand and congratulations to his rival, and accepted his defeat with resignation.
It is not so common, nowadays, to see that mixture of delivery and behavior; not only in the training environment, but even in the professional world. Within the normal disappointment that I felt yesterday, I confess my uncle satisfaction. And I reiterate my apologies.