Match Points: “The pressure on Djokovic and the energy he spent all year was ultimately too much”

In the latest episode of Match Points, Marion Bartoli, Carole Bouchard and Simon Cambers discuss Novak Djokovic’s near miss at the US Open, where his hopes of winning the calendar-year Grand Slam ended in the final with defeat to Daniil Medvedev

September 24, 2021

Novak Djokovic’s defeat by Russia’s Daniil Medvedev in the US Open final ended his chances of becoming the first man to win all four majors in the same calendar year since Rod Laver in 1969.

In the latest edition of Match Points, host Josh Cohen asks former Wimbledon champion Marion Bartoli and journalists Carole Bouchard and Simon Cambers what should be made of the world No 1’s near-miss.

BARTOLI: DJOKOVIC JUST HAD NOTHING LEFT

“He was empty entirely, physically and mentally, Novak, that even when the crowd was really supporting him in that first and second set of course, even more in that third set, he never even showed (anything) back to them,” she says.

“Usually he urges the crowd, he gets them to be on their feet and really support him. And I think that would have put extra pressure on (Daniil) Medvedev. But Novak was so empty that he was just trying to conserve as much energy as he had because he had not much left. It shows in the body language, that really he had not much left. Djokovic really showed that as much as he is a superhuman and as much as he’s the best player on the planet, the pressure and the energy he has spent all year long was just too much for him.”

Novak Djokovic
Novak Djokovic hides his tears at the changeover late in the third set of the final at the US Open Djokovic AI / Reuters / Panoramic

BOUCHARD: HE SHOWED HE IS NOT A MACHINE

Journalist Carole Bouchard says the way he showed his emotions, tearing up before what proved to be the final game of the match against Medvedev, may have also added to the admiration in which he is held. “He let go a little,” Bouchard says. “And the crowd and the people who love to call him a machine, maybe they saw he was not.”

For Bouchard, losing his only match in a Grand Slam in 2021 was no failure.

 “He tried to do something impossible and nearly made it,” she says. “So he didn’t fail. He made everything possible to do it. He could have lost so many times before; at the French Open he was down two sets. In the Wimbledon final you could see he was a little bit on the edge and (at the US Open) he played five sets against (Alexander) Zverev. Those guys are nearly 10 years younger than him.”

Novak Djokovic & Daniil Medvedev after the 2021 US Open Final
Novak Djokovic & Daniil Medvedev after the 2021 US Open Final ©

CAMBERS: GETTING SO CLOSE WAS AN INCREDIBLE ACHIEVEMENT

And journalist Simon Cambers says Djokovic deserves enormous praise for getting so close.

“I think it’s an incredible achievement to get as close as he did. And what I will say is that Rod Laver, when he won in ‘69, never got to another Grand Slam final. So you can see what it does to players getting that close and pushing themselves so hard to achieve what is an incredible goal.

“I imagine that he will now take a few months off…the ATP finals could be the only thing he plays or he may even miss that, give himself some time to come back (strong).”

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