Commentary

Djokovic inflicting psychological pain

Updated: July 3, 2011, 9:25 PM ET
By Ravi Ubha | ESPN.com

WIMBLEDON, England -- Novak Djokovic showed us what he was made of. Suffering his first loss of the season against Roger Federer at Roland Garros, not many thought he could come back and win the next major on what was considered his least productive surface.

So much for that theory.

By downing Rafael Nadal in Sunday's Wimbledon final, he also inflicted a little more psychological damage on the Spaniard, backing up his ascension to No. 1 in the rankings.

Here are five things we learned about the men at Wimbledon.

Novak is in Rafa's head

Nadal knows what Federer feels like now. He is in the Swiss' head, and now Djokovic is in Nadal's. He admitted as much Sunday.

An interesting dynamic, isn't it?

That's five straight times he's lost to Djokovic in 2011 finals, and on three different surfaces. The doubts crept in, Nadal said, deep in the crucial first set.

Nadal persists in using his crosscourt forehand to the Djokovic backhand, and the results were hardly any different than they were in Indian Wells, Miami, Madrid and Rome. Djokovic remains untroubled by this shot, always replying with interest.

One of the key stats in Sunday's affair was net approaches. Djokovic came in 26 times and won 73 percent of points; Nadal ventured to the net a mere nine times.

Djokovic's movement gives players plenty to ponder, but a few times the Serb was outside the tram lines and Nadal chose to stay back -- not come in and put away gentle balls. Forced to play one extra shot from the baseline, he erred.

Just how Nadal goes about trying to beat Djokovic in the future will be fascinating.

Fed can't sustain brilliance

Federer is still capable of producing brilliant matches. We saw that at the French Open, when the Swiss upended Djokovic in an instant classic.

What's becoming apparent is sustaining that brilliance is getting harder and harder for Federer, who hits the watershed age of 30 next month.

The stats, formerly all in his favor, are now working against him. He lost for the first time in 179 Grand Slam matches when leading by two sets and was knocked out in the quarterfinals at Wimbledon, where he sought a record-equaling seventh title, for the second straight year.

Despite an inspired performance by Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, a sharper Federer would have found a way to close things out.

For Federer, going six Grand Slams without a title, as is the case now, is an eternity.

Murray has a dilemma

Even Andy Murray's detractors must have had a little sympathy for him. The poor guy exclusively shoulders the tennis expectations of a kingdom, and the weight becomes greater at Wimbledon.

Murray came closer than ever to becoming the first British man in 73 years to reach the Wimbledon final, and he'll be haunted by a missed forehand in the semifinals against Nadal.

Afterward, Murray said he got the balance wrong, that he was in fact too aggressive when he should have been more patient.

That's a bad sign. Now he'll be more uncertain than ever when facing the big players on the grandest of stages.

Does he indeed become more passive and thus allow his opponent to dictate, or go for it and function outside his comfort zone?

It must be the latter.

It's the only way forward -- better to go out guns blazing than standing two yards behind the baseline and hoping the other guy misses.

A-Rod is in trouble

Murray, at 24, has time on his side. The same can't be said of Andy Roddick, increasingly injury prone and about to turn 29.

It's hard to be overly negative when discussing Roddick, since he's hardly been healthy the past year.

But even if he's 100 percent and has a spell of good health, his chances of winning a second Grand Slam title -- and first since 2003 -- are now minimal. Even landing in a major semifinal will be difficult.

Roddick, however, has an opportunity for more glory in the Davis Cup, starting in the quarterfinals against a Rafa-less Spain at home in Austin, Texas.

Mardy Fish's quarterfinal appearance at Wimbledon cemented his spot as the top American man.

There can be no debate.

Delpo is a future Wimbledon champion

When a young Nadal, then more or less a clay-court specialist, said he wanted to win Wimbledon, not many believed he could do it.

Juan Martin del Potro almost looked like a cow on ice (to borrow an expression) on his last visit in 2009 and was taught a grass-court lesson by Lleyton Hewitt.

His progress on the surface has been phenomenal, especially taking into consideration his time away from the game due to a wrist injury.

In his loss to Nadal in the fourth round, a few points here or there decided the outcome. Del Potro has developed a nice slice, served and volleyed more than a dozen times -- mostly with success -- and his movement is much better.

Nadal-del Potro is a rivalry to keep an eye on. Although Nadal is on good terms with Federer, Djokovic and Murray, he and the Argentine don't get along.

London-based Ravi Ubha covers soccer and tennis for ESPN.com. You can follow him on Twitter.

London-based Ravi Ubha covers soccer and tennis for ESPN.com.