Good analysis by Tignor. Thanks Kalista. Here are some parts of the article I agree.
Djokovic had been scintillating the night before in beating Nadal. But there had been something a little too flashy about the way he went about it. The down-the-line forehand winners he kept firing past the Spaniard from outside of the court were not shots that anyone, including Djokovic, can keep hitting on a regular basis—as someone once said of the way Jimmy Connors hit backhand winners, the Serb seemed to think his shots were worth two points each. By the middle of the second set the next day, Djokovic had traveled 180 degrees in the other direction. As in Toronto, he couldn’t keep two consecutive forehands in the court against Murray. He spent the rest of the set fighting himself, his racquet, and even his normally trusty backhand, which he began to spray almost in imitation of his forehand. Only his serve allowed him to remain anywhere near Murray.
Part of this was physical. Djokovic was breathing hard early in the match and looked exhausted by the end. But I don’t think that was the decisive factor. I’ve said in the past that he carries a dangerous amount of frustration with him during his matches—think of it as a debt load that, on occasion, he can’t pay off. On Sunday ESPN’s Darren Cahill took this observation one step further. He noted during the second set that Djokovic had let his frustration overwhelm him to the point where he had checked out competitively and conceded that it wasn’t his day. I’d never thought of it quite that way, but it’s a trend with the Serb when things aren’t going well. The dissatisfaction gets to be too much, and he pulls a mental trigger. Sometimes he calls it a day completely (see his match against Federer in Monte Carlo), sometimes he chucks in his now obligatory drop shot when he’s down match point. Djokovic did that again on Sunday, except that the ball skimmed the tape and ended up winning him the point and eventually the game. That’s how the entire second set went for Djokovic; as Cahill noted, the more the Serb conceded, the more relaxed his shots became, and the better he played. Djokovic saved four match points at 3-5 and extended the final tiebreaker all the way to 7-5. Looking desperate to lose the set most of the time, he very nearly ended up winning it.
This is a different version of the Djokovic that I was writing about as recently as May. Regarding his recently-erratic forehand, maybe it’s Murray’s defensive speed that forces him to try for too much, or maybe that little flourish at the top of his backswing really does hurt its consistency. Djokovic can hit flashy winners from that side, but now we know that it can go off and bring down his entire game. More important was his mental approach to Sunday’s final. This wasn’t the same guy who was so uncannily confident, organized, and psychologically uncluttered at the U.S. and Australian Opens. What’s changed? I’d chalk it up to the expectations game. At those events, Djokovic was still the hunter; he had encountered almost no resistance on his shockingly smooth ride up to No. 3 in the world and a Grand Slam title. But that ended when he couldn’t pass Nadal this spring; since then he’s had to deal with defending his own position rather than hunting anyone down. He hasn't been quite the same player, first at Wimbledon and now against Murray. Maybe this is the downside of having such innate and uncanny confidence. When Djokovic’s game doesn’t match his own very high expectations for it, he reacts with an unsustainable and unproductive frustration.