Novak Djokovic often displays a wide array of emotions on the court. The perfectionist that he is, Djokovic usually cannot tolerate it if he makes even a small mistake in a match.
As such, it was a rather surreal sight when Djokovic was as silent as a grave in the French Open final against Rafael Nadal. Despite being at the receiving end of a once-in-a-lifetime beatdown, the Serb showed no emotions for the most part. And many believe his subdued behavior hurt his chances even more.
Well-known journalist Ben Rothenberg is among those who think the Serb would have been better served by releasing his emotions. The American, while speaking to Tennis Majors, opined that Djokovic did himself no favors by bottling up all his feelings, which eventually allowed Nadal to roll him over.
Novak Djokovic seemed pretty out of it and pretty flat: Ben Rothenberg
Novak Djokovic is quite well-known for that 'roar’ that he lets out after winning a big point or breaking his opponent in a crucial game. The Serb especially lets out such battle cries when the going gets tough, or when he is faced with a seemingly insurmountable task.
The task against Rafael Nadal in the first two sets was as insurmountable as it could get, given that the Spaniard was in imperious form. And yet, Djokovic barely made any noise.
Ben Rothenberg linked Novak Djokovic’s strange behavior to his default from the US Open. The journalist believes the Serb was trying to keep himself under control after what had transpired at Flushing Meadows.
“I think he seemed very flat to me, even in the semi-final he seemed very flat emotionally,” Rothenberg remarked. “I think that he’s working so hard especially after the default maybe at the US Open which obviously came from an emotional outburst in terms of hitting the ball or emotional moment at least or emotional lack of control that cost him dearly.”
Novak Djokovic did ultimately let out a massive roar in the third set after breaking Nadal for the first time. However, that was too little and too late, according to Rothenberg.
“He didn’t really show much emotion in this match at all, even as it was going against him, until when he broke back or he broke for the first time in the third set,” Rothenberg added. “By that point, he was already in a very deep hole.”
Ben Rothenberg went on to say that he would have liked Novak Djokovic to perhaps smash a racquet or even scream out loud, to give his fans something to rally behind.
“I just want to see Djokovic show some more emotion, whether it's you know smashing a racquet or screaming or doing something to let you know that he is engaged in this match. Because so often he just seemed pretty out of it and pretty flat, which let Nadal keep rolling pretty unimpeded,” Rothenberg concluded.Published 12 Oct 2020, 17:47 IST