It never gets old. Seriously! That feeling right after an incredible Rafa win. Not just any win. The kind of win where you keep wondering for several hours after, how exactly he managed to pull it off. You find yourself in awe of the young Spaniard and you find yourself literally screaming at the screen in an empty room in your house. Then you look around you and you realize how ridiculous you must look like, jumping in front of the screen like that, but then again you don’t really care, cuz Rafa just came through another epic match, and you instantly run to your phone to call someone and share the excitement.
Today was not a Grand Slam final, it wasn’t a Rafa-Federer classic and it wasn’t a match that for example, decided the world’s top ranking spot or something of that sort. But the level of play in this match and the anticipation it created made it worthy of a Grand Slam final audience. Rafa and Djokovic transformed this match from a Masters semifinal in Madrid, to a mouth-watering classic people tuned into worldwide. I was actually at a wedding during the third set and I had a bunch of wedding guests surrounding me as we all stared at my iphone to check on all the updates.
The thing about Rafa is that he doesn’t constantly demolish his opponents. He may do that in the early rounds but when it comes to the semis against the big boys, he surely knows how to create a drama out of a match. Today Rafa played a rubbish first set while Djokovic was playing an awesome one. It may have been the knee, it may have been Djokovic’s attacking form coupled with the altitude or maybe it was something else, but for some reason he just wasn’t playing and as the errors kept coming, Djokovic got sharper and more aggressive and raced to a 1 set lead.
At that point, the true Rafa fans were waiting for him to wake up, and everybody else didn’t expect much and were busy being impressed with Djokovic, and when the Spaniard got medical attention for his knee, more people started to think that this match was finally going to be Djokovic’s first clay win over Rafa.
However the second set got tighter and tighter, as both players failed to break serve and held on to their own with their dear lives, until Rafa edged Djokovic to capture the tie-break. The atmosphere was tense as hell and I was already pacing around the room, because the rallies were getting longer and Djokovic wasn’t giving up, but the result of the tie-break caused some temporary relief, before the torture started again in the 3rd set.
Under normal circumstances, one would think that after Rafa struggled for 2 sets, he would race to grab the third like he normally does, and given the fact that Djokovic has a history of tiring easily, one might expect the third set to have been an easy one for Rafa, but that was far from the true case, and the match eventually came down to match points getting saved back and forth in the tie-break before Rafa’s brain outwitted Nole’s and the result was 12500 Spaniards leaping at the Caja Magica, Rafa throwing himself to the ground, Djokovic feeling his heart break, and me screaming like a 6 year old in a dress and heels at a freakin’ wedding.
It was pure torture but when I think about it, where’s the fun in winning easy huh?!?! And credit must be given to Djokovic, not only for his incredible display of tennis, but also for creating a new rivalry in tennis that in itself rivals the one between Rafa and Federer. Who else is hoping that Djokovic is NOT in Rafa’s half of the draw at the French Open?!?! I would love to see this rivalry put to the test in the Roland Garros final (sans Djokovic retirements of course).
The coolest part of all this, is that we still have one more classic ahead of us as Rafa will play Federer tomorrow in the final, where they will be facing each other for the 20th time. I think that deserves a celebration of some sort, the fact that I have witnessed all 20 Rafa-Fed matches, don’t you think?!
Sorry for the long post… I got carried away :)