To be brutally honest, the match was something of a damp squib :-( I was expecting a good match, an excellent match, one of their epics, a close match, an enjoyable match. This was nothing like that. Novak was imperious and won in straight sets, not losing his serve at all and only facing one break point. He played really well, the best he's played this tournament, although not the best I have seen him play. But then he didn't have to play his out and out best because Rafa I'm afraid played abysmally. I have honestly never seen him play so badly - even when the he's lost easily, even when the score line has been as bad as this, he's played better.
It wasn't the scoreline that worried me, had Rafa played his 'A' game and played the way he's been playing throughout this tournament, had the Rafa I love and know showed up, I honestly wouldn't be that upset or that worried. But I don't know where the Rafa of the past or the Rafa of this tournament was.
From the off it was clear Rafa was as nervous as anything and tighter than a coiled spring - no one can play well under those circumstances. And yes I could understand why; there was a lot on the line. He was playing to become only the third man in history to have won all four slams at least twice and a win here put him one slam nearer to catching Federer's total. Plus, the head-to-head against Novak was in Novak's favour - especially on hard courts and especially here, a tournament Novak had won six times previously. So yes, some nerves were expected, but he never once seemed to lose them. His bread-and-butter shots were missing, his usually safer-than-safe deadly forehand was neither safe nor deadly and missed the mark multiple times.
There were glimpses at times of the champion he is and every time they happened I and the commentators thought 'this is it, this is where he starts his comeback or at least starts to make a fight of it'. Sadly, it just never happened. I just don't know what happened today. I'm not sure an on-form Rafa would have won; I felt Novak had a lot more to give, but the tame way really Rafa played well . . . It doesn't bode well for the rest of the year.
As I've said I really do like Novak (which apparently I'm not meant to do, if you're a Rafa fan (or a Federer fan) then you aren't 'allowed' to like Novak as well *shrugs*) so today (like yesterday) was going to be a 'win' for me whoever won. Obviously, not such a big 'win' as Rafa is my out and out favourite, whereas Novak is just one of several other players I really like. I was just really disappointed (as I'm sure many others were) by the tameness of the match and by how poorly Rafa played - and he knows he played poorly, you could see that in his face and his body language.
It doesn't bode well for the rest of the season, as far as matches between Rafa and Novak go as I fear Rafa has once again slipped into the mindset whereby he doesn't know how to beat Novak and he doesn't believe he can beat him. This happened a few years ago and then Novak went 'walk about' for quite some time and when he came back, Rafa had remembered how to beat him. I just hope during this year Rafa can remember how to beat Novak because if not I think we might be in for a lot more finals like this. It wasn't Rafa's tennis game that beat him today, it was his mental game which had such an impact on his tennis.
But let's not take anything away from Novak; he won today and he deserved to.
As it stands today I am sticking my neck out and saying 2019 will be the year where Novak makes another slice of history and becomes the first man since Rod Laver to win all four slams in the same calendar year. At the moment he holds three out of the four, so if he wins the French, he'll once again hold all four titles at the same time (something neither Roger nor Rafa have done). And if he does win the French, then I really cannot see anyone stopping him at Wimbledon or the US Open - he could stop himself, as he did in 2016, but we'll see.
Anyway, that aside. I have thoroughly enjoyed my fortnight of tennis from Oz and am delighted I spent such an extortionate amount in order to watch it *g*