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Freeman Cebu Sports

Not yet, Djokovic

WRECKORDER - FGS Gujilde - The Freeman

At Tokyo this year, Novak Djokovic gave me more reasons to dislike him. He shaded Simone Biles, the greatest gymnast of all time, for withdrawing from competition because she was not mentally ready. Quoting the great Billie Jean King, Novak reminded Simone pressure is a privilege. But when he smelled defeat in his singles bronze medal match, he threw one racket and broke another in frustration. He then stood up a woman about to date history, his virtual unknown mixed doubles partner who was dying to play the rare chance for fame, fortune and the bronze.

This Monday was his turn to date history, win the final major of the year at Flushing Meadows to complete a calendar grand slam never before achieved by any man in the Open Era. But history stood him up, another man stood in the way. Daniil Medvedev finally won his first major and denied Djokovic the ticket to pull away from exclusive club of twenty. He doesn’t want to share it with Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer anymore. Three is a crowd. But in three straight sets he bowed out and loud.

Had Djokovic won, I would have conceded he is greatest of all time, not only because he would have earned more slams than any other man, but because he would have won all four majors in a single year at 34, the age when tennis greats lose half a step. But Djokovic looks like he just started.

But the Russian had a clandestine plan, beat Djokovic by his iron hand and avenge his loss at this year’s first grand slam. He served the Serb with blinding aces. Blanked, the world number one slammed his racquet on his favorite surface, breaking it in wanton abuse of the privilege he claims to thrive in.

With his once impenetrable mental zone blown, Novak couldn’t carry the heavy weight of expectation. But there is a story bigger than his redundant racquet abuse. He buried his face with towel to hide his wail. Frustrated, he couldn’t turn the match around like he easily did many times before. A meltdown of a champion who humors opponents with first set charity only to punish them with come-from-behind victory. But the vengeful Medvedev wasn’t amused, the Russian stilt was dead serious to bludgeon the Serbian champion.

So the trivalry is stuck in twenty. At least for now. But the future appears stolen by hungry thieves. Like Daniil who described Novak greatest in history. Loud consolation, but I just beat you today is his silent continuation. Dominic Thiem got one but wants more. Stefanos Tsitsipas and Alexander Zverev are close. And don’t forget the rising teenagers, the women showed us they’re somewhere near.

Novak did not cry because he lost the match, he did because he lost history. He wept more during awarding ceremony, sniffled like a child would, and showed the world the toughest of men could even be stronger by showing what’s beneath them. It didn’t make him any less of a man. It made him completely human. I like him now. I like him more if he keeps on losing in the future.

NOVAK DJOKOVIC
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