What a man, what a man, what a mighty good ... Stan. Yea, Stanislas Wawrinka gave Novak Djokovic all that he could handle in their fourth-round duel at the Australian Open. When it was over, Djokovic had swiped the victory, 12-10 in the fifth and final set. This was match point. And Wawrinka, playing the match of his life, had competed phenomenally but fallen short when it mattered most. And that is what seems to separate contenders from the rest of the top guns on the ATP Tour, or in any sport—Djokovic pulled reserves from places within himself where and when they didn't even seem to exist. Champions find ways to win when they're not at their best. They pull Houdini magic tricks, escape acts.
In winning this, his third straight Grand Slam title in Melbourne, Djokovic shared some memorable moments—and shots, but not the usual, obvious kind. After defeating Wawrinka, he (or a member of his camp) posted to Instagram this photo, with the caption, "Team Nole helping me recover from one of the most epic matches of my career. Stan played amazing... full credit to him. Sorry for keeping you all up so late." Immediately after seizing the victory—and ahead of taking down Tomas Berdych, David Ferrer, and Andy Murray in sequence—the world's No. 1 male tennis player also gave us this endearing and/or enduring image, depending on how you look at it, whether you're a fan or not of his personality and demeanor, apparently.
Some see it as a fault, the stripping off of shirts, as if some sort of machismo, strange nationalist pride, or even animalistic chutzpah is involved. But this is sport, and that involves adrenaline and heightened senses, nerves, and emotions—just ask Victoria Azarenka—and those Djokovic detractors probably had no problem with Brandi Chastain pulling off her top after Team USA won the 1999 World Cup final. Plus, this: Djokovic has now claimed his sixth Grand Slam singles title. He has met Stefan Edberg and Boris Becker's mark, co-owned with other wildly talented forebearers. He has thus earned the right to do basically whatever he wants as exhilarated outbursts go. This isn't the National Football League, with its "excessive celebration" rule. (You're welcome, Maria Sharapova.)
What Djokovic never ceases to give all of this great sport's observers is a surplus of showmanship. This is a good thing, and almost anytime tennis appears prominently in periodicals and on news websites, it's a good thing. Djokovic is not just an athlete; he is an entertainer. As such, his sponsor might consider making him some tearaway polos. It's just a thought.
—Jonathan Scott (@jonscott9)