During a dramatic fifth set in the Australian Open final, I could not help but notice the world’s number 1 tennis player, Novak Djokovic, as he fiddled with something he wore around his neck. Actually, he fished something tied to a cord hidden under his shirt and kissed it.
I supported his opponent in the match, Rafael Nadal, for two reasons — he was the slight underdog, and Nadal is left-handed.
I feel it is important that we “lefties” stick together.
Plus, it’s harder to pull for the favorite, in my opinion.
However, I do enjoy watching both men play the game and pull for both against different opponents. You can only pull for one in the final, though.
Clearly after five hours of tennis, these two men were as equal as you could get.
In fact, Djokovic was losing the match, down a break. Then he seemed to catch a second wind.
It also seemed the better he played, the more Djokovic played with the object around his neck.
What exactly was Djokovic kissing? On closer observation, it was a simple wooden cross.
Match commentator Patrick McEnroe helpfully described Djokovic as “kissing his necklace.” But it was obviously a plain wooden cross. Not a crucifix, but a cross.
To alleviate any possible confusion about the meaning of his gesture, Djokovic began to overtly make the sign of the cross over his entire upper torso after winning key points.
Yesterday, the biggest points all seemed to go his way late in the fifth set.
My atheist friends who watched the match probably got irritated by Djokovic’s antics, quite possibly to the point of apoplectic rage.
After all, they might have thought Djokovic was “pulling a Tebow.”
In “prime time” in front of God and everybody, if that is possible at 9:00 am Eastern, 1:00 am Australian time. Not on the sidelines, under his towel between games.
To be absolutely clear, I do not think God loves Novak Djokovic any more than Rafael Nadal. I do not believe divine intervention played a role in the outcome.
The only impact his on-court stunts had on my enjoyment of the match was it left me with no real disappointment when “my” guy lost.
If forced to hazard a guess, I would think it is possible that Rafael Nadal is also a devout Christian.
His humbleness and public expressions of humility, combined with his grace toward the opposition win-or-lose, lend credibility to the thought that Nadal certainly acts like a “good” Christian.
By some measure, that should make Nadal a “better” Christian than Djokovic…after all, does not the Bible warn about making public displays of piousness?
Or, was the warning really about insincere or falsely pious behavior?
One should probably assume that the better tennis player won the 2012 Australian Open — better by at least two points.
One should not assume the better man won.
Djokovic won the match, but Nadal did not lose the championship. He did not “choke” by any stretch of the imagination. Both men played like champions. Both deserved to win.
Unfortunately, only one could.
Pity we couldn’t call it a draw. But the game doesn’t allow for draws, or ties.
Even so, I was not the least bit upset or disappointed that Djokovic emerged the winner.