It’s the second set of the Djokovic / Ferrer slug-fest at the Australian Open. Djokovic looks out on his feet as he tries to match the doggedness and tenacity of the Spaniard. Holding his injured leg. Breathing heavily. Surely Ferrer is going to level at one-set all and kick on.
But no. Djokovic finds another gear and simply brushes his opponent aside. It’s the mentality of a champion. The ability to dig deep in game changing moments, to find something extra.
Being a major champion like Djokovic, gives you the inner belief that you will somehow find a way to win, even when not at your best. It’s a knowing that you feel deep inside you. A knowing that gives you extra energy when you most need it.
And thus each win, sustains the belief that you can win everytime you go out to play. It’s not a quality Djokovic always had. But now that he has broken through into the very highest level, he will looks and behaves as if he is unbeatable.
It’s a state of mind Andy Murray is searching for. Now he has to overcome Djokovic, then Nadal or Federer to achieve that psychological breakthrough. Players who know the ‘unbeatable feeling’ intimately. It’s what wins these great champions a lot of tight matches.
Murray can match them technically. But to win that elusive Major, he has to match them mentally. Match that supreme feeling of unbeatability. Up to now, he has narrowly failed to do that in the big matches. But perhaps Ivan Lendl can transfer that elusive mindset, that will make the ultimate difference.
Once he makes that breakthrough, you suspect that Murray will step into a Djokovic period of dominance. But it’s the first step that is the most difficult!