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Finding Roger Federer Meltdown footage on YouTube is like finding a seat on the Number 4 Lexington Avenue subway at 9:30 in the morning. [Non-New Yorkers, take note: it's rare.] The Greatest of All Time usually deals with blown shots by dragging his middle finger across his forehead and tucking his hair behind his ear. Not this time. This was a semi-final match with Novak Djokovic at the 2009 Sony Ericsson Open in Miami, Florida. Djokovic just broke Fed in the third and deciding set and was up 15-0 when the Greatest of All Time took his eyes off a routine approach shot that could have evened the score. Federer went through lots of racquets when he was playing the junior circuit; wonder if he felt a little wave of nostalgia upon banging this one hard into the court.

On the Sideline
Sunday
Oct142012

Meltdown of the Week, October 13th, 2012: Novak Djokovic at Shanghai Masters

Haters, it's been a while since Novak Djokovic has had a really good I Hate Tennis moment, because he's been loving tennis so much.  The Serb is 10-0 since losing to Andy Murray in the US Open final in September.  He leads the ATP World Tour with 70 match wins and has, along with the US Open crown, trophies from the Australian Open, Sony Open in Miami and the Rogers Cup in Toronto sitting on his mantel.

But that was all forgotten when he blew this lengthy, thrilling point at the Shanghai Rolex Masters today against Murray, who was seeking his third consecutive Shanghai title.  Murray breaks him to serve for the first set at 6-5.  No smiles for the Djoker, who seems intent on pushing his racquet through the surface of the court.

High speed smashingPutting weight into it

Here's the pitch......Strike three, yer out!

 

 

 

 

W

What's amazing and admirable is that Djokovic regrouped to win the title.  He took the second set, fighting off Murray who, at one point, was serving for the set at 5-4, 30-0.  Two more points, and the match was his.

Here's how ATP World Tour's website described the Djokovic comeback: The Djokovic fightback began in the following point. He hit a ‘tweener to claw his way back into an exchange that Murray was winning and clinched it with a drop shot. Murray had his first match point at 40/30, but a forehand winner from Djokovic thwarted the Scot. Murray then hit a forehand long on a break point for Djokovic to surrender his advantage.

A pulsating tie-break followed, with Murray squandering four more match points at 6-4, 8-7 and 10-9 before Djokovic converted his fourth set point with a forehand winner to send the contest into a deciding set.

Murray fended off a break point in the fifth game of the third set, but could not keep Djokovic at bay in the seventh game as the Belgrade native engineered a 4-3 lead. Murray saved two match points on serve down 3-5, but Djokovic converted his third opportunity to claim a memorable victory. 

So, is this an example of a "healthy" meltdown, one where Nole demolished his racquet and then put the first set behind him?  Is there such a thing?  Sometimes I hear commentators giving players kudos for showing their emotions on the court.  Other times, they sniff and stiffly say they should bottle up their emotions and focus on the next point.  

I think tennis hate is universal.  There's no getting around the frustration of missing a shot you should have had, or making the same mistakes over and over again, even though you tell yourself you should know better. But I, for one, can't afford the luxury of smashing my racquet.  I'm not getting them for free. I also find it too difficult to surf the rage wave and transition quickly back to calm, tranquil mental waters.  

But Djokovic?  He apparently knows how to swim with the sharks.  Swing away, Nole, swing away.  And keep racking up those broken racquets and titles.  

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