It's time to shelve the discussions about how Novak Djokovic isn't a tough tennis player.
In a span of eight days starting last Saturday, the Serbian held off two match points by the greatest player ever en route to the greatest win of his career, hung with the current greatest for four sets in the U.S. Open final, conducted himself with total class after that loss, flew to Serbia, watched his countrymates go down 2-1 in a Davis Cup tie with the Czech Republic and then went out and saved the day by defeating the No. 7 player in the world to level the series.
Janko Tipsaraveic won the rubber match to put Serbia in its first-ever Davis Cup final. The nation will host France on Dec. 3-5.
It's amazing how perceptions can shift so quickly. Before defeating Federer, Djokovic was a great player who came around at the wrong time and could never get back over the hump he was able to conquer at the 2008 Australian Open. He had lost to Federer three straight times in New York, had experienced disappointment at every other Grand Slam since his win and seemed destined to be a frequent outsider in the Federer-Nadal conversation.
Maybe he still will be. This has only been eight days, after all. If Federer could have put away one more forehand, we wouldn't be having this discussion.
But it feels like something's changed though. There's a sense of bravado now from Djokovic, the expectation that he was going to win that match against Tomas Berdych on Sunday. The old Djokovic may have won, but there would have been some drama involved. An excuse perhaps.
Not with Djokovic 2.0. He went out and dispatched Berdych with ease, setting the table for his buddy Janko to bring home the victory. That it happened in front of 18,000 rabid hometown fans? No pressure at all.
These eight days in September could be the start of something big for Novak Djokovic.
- Novak Djokovic