Novak Djokovic beat Nadal in four sets yesterday morning (NZ time) to win the Wimbledon championship at the first time of asking.
I felt thoroughly sorry for Nadal who was a dejected looking lad during the prize-giving ceremony. He’s facing a whole new phase in his career and it won’t be an easy adjustment. Until this year, his career trajectory has been inexorably upward. He was the young upstart toppling the established power that was Roger Federer. And then, last year, he was the king in his pomp, beating all-comers on all surfaces.
But this year, he’s the one being beaten by the young upstart (at 24, Djokovic is actually only a few months younger than Nadal, but, he’s a relatively late bloomer in tennis terms, unlike Nadal who started winning tournaments young.) Djokovic has now won 5 straight finals against him, and as Nadal admitted after the Wimbledon final, that’s messing with his head.
Nadal is facing the tennis version of a mid-life crisis or at least a mid-life readjustment. He’s no longer outpacing everyone else and he’ll have to figure out how to cope with the possibility of being overtaken.