Originally Posted by duong
I've always been interested / liked / admired Djokovic's "roller-coaster" method.
It struck me first in his match against Baghdatis in Wimbledon 2007.
And since then, I've been used to this kind of "method" / match and games scenario/rhythm.
First you can see it during a serving game : he's been one of the players who wins the highest number of serving games at 40-30 or something. This is visible in the fact that comparing to other top-players, he has always been better in stats for the % of games won than for the % of points won ; he's also been regularly the best at saving breakpoints comparing to the number of points he wins on serve.
He can play a few loose errors-points in the beginning of the game, but then when he's in danger, he seems to focus again deeply inside him and then gets very solid.
This is typically the kind of things that struck me in his match against Baghdatis in Wimbledon 2007 ... and even more surprising was the number of times when he had looked upset ... but then immediately, right for next point, he could be and look extremely focused (I guess he does that concentration work partly during his bounces on serve).
In more recent years, a new consequence of that has appeared : the number of matches he has won after facing match-points against him or being in huge danger : against Fed, Tsonga, Murray, Seppi ...
Imo he was clearly the better player in his matches against Fed in the US Open 2010 and 2011 and the WTF 2012, it was no hazard that he won those matches : I mean his best level was superior to Fed's, and he mainly won when he "activated" that level.
However, another problem related with this method is that his slow starts, with lower level, may cost him a lot :
- against Nadal in the Australian and the French Open
- against Murray in the US Open
- against Fed in Cincy
- against Fed in the French Open 2011
- against Tsonga and Seppi in the French Open
When you get way behind your opponent, it can become too hard to come back in the end, and your opponents can clinch the match with a few points which go their way even though they're lesser players.
If you're interested, Tignor also noted that trend several times on his blog.
Why does he do like that ? a matter of adrenaline ?
I'm sure there's a matter of adrenaline. And also the fact that nobody can keep focused 100% of the time, so he's learned to come back and focus when he really needs it.
But I also think there's a very important aspect of Nole's personality: a sort of defiant daredevil. He loves coming from behind, he loves drama, he's at his best when he's against the odds. When he's in a tight spot, it's as if his whole body losens up and he hits the ball with abandon. I'm sure he finds those unlikely winners (like THE SHOT) wildly exhilarating, he feeds on them and lifts his level of play to really high levels: for a little while. He has to be careful.
What's amazing is how he can also be a very disciplined player, playing the rational and reasonable shots when he has to. His ability to switch from one mode to another is what's made him such a tough player to beat.
From a fan's point of view, it's very tough, we're always on what we call a Djokocoaster. But it's also intoxicating: I'm not alone in having felt a little bit let down during the first half of 2011, it was lovely to see him winning so easily, but there was something missing as well, the adrenaline to which we have probably become a little addicted.
I wish he didn't have such slow starts... to this day, I think he would have given himself a much better chance to win Roland Garros and the USO this year if he hadn't had such appalling starts in both matches.