Why Djokovic’s bubble finally burst

2015-06-10 06:01

SURE IT was error-strewn – inaccurate kicking at the poles and otherwise by both teams, some missed tackles and other sins – but that’s the sort of thing that happens in a game as tight as the Stormers-Lions Super Rugby thriller at Newlands, a match opening up several possibilities for the coming weekend.

But there was much to admire about the performance of both teams, a derby in every sense of the word, two teams “giving it everything they had,” to quote former Springbok commentator, Nick Mallett.

In the end a 19-19 draw was the fairest possible result. Several players stood out on both sides, particularly noticeable being Lions skipper Warren Whiteley and Faf de Klerk, Stormers’ Schalk Burger, Eben Etzebeth, Nizzam Carr (a last minute withdrawal for captain Duane Vermeulen), and Damian de Allende among others.

The big news of the weekend, however, was the drama in Paris, at the sold-out French Open men’s tennis final, won in the end for the first-time by Stan Wawrinka against Novak Djokovic 4-6, 6-4, 6-3, 6-4. Alternatively, it was Djokovic’s third unsuccessful effort at the famed Roland Garros.

With two such contrasting characters what Hollywood director could have asked for more? Djokovic with his piercing eyes, his easy grin, his dark hair like a tightly barbered cap; Wawrinka with his boyish rough-cut looks, collared striped shirt, shorts that suggested a crossword puzzle needing completion.

A Hollywood director’s casting dream was about to unfold. Soon as both men, unshaven, squared up to set the scene for a thriller in which the two main characters – greats of yore such as Clark Gable and Gary Cooper perhaps – squared up you somehow got the feeling the crossword pattern of Wawrinka’s shorts would soon be worked out. Why not? In no time Djokovic had the first set in his pocket, playing the deft strokes one expects of the world’s top-ranked players. Must be a piece of cake. Soon he’d be on his way to the much coveted French Open title – one he’d never won before. Then the scene changed dramatically.

Take the title? Would he hell. Not if Stan Wawrinka had anything to do with it. Strangely Djokovic’s plan seemed to cave in on itself. He began uncharacteristically to take refuge in caution. He also misjudged moments when he might have had his opponent strung up by the neck. No wonder he’d never won the title at Roland Garros, you began to think.

The cheers of his supporters grew muted as he began constantly to question himself and his battle plan with angry frowns, shakes of his head and finally, when all was lost, to hurl his racquet into the court’s hard brown, unforgiving surface.

It was time now for Wawrinka to smile. He did so, like a schoolboy with an unexpected fistful of money at the tuck-shop. But make no mistake if Djokovic has anything to do with it he’ll be after Wawrinka’s blood on what for him will possibly be the more friendly green surface of grassy Wimbledon in just over two week’s time

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