Djokovic showed us how to lose

Djokovic showed us how to lose

The sight of Andy Murray closing out the final point on Sunday, bringing down the curtain on 77 years of hurt, will remain the defining sporting image of 2013. But, for me, there is another image that will always give Murray a run for his money.

It was the sight of Novak Djokovic, the vanquished finalist, stepping up to give his post-match interview. It had been a torrid afternoon for the Serb, partly because of Murray's consistent brilliance, but partly also because he had to endure a crowd that was almost universally against him.

It would have been easy to be churlish or, at the very least, a tad unforthcoming. But no. The world No. 1 took the microphone and had the humanity to recognise the achievement of his opponent and the delight that it had given the crowd, and the nation.

"Congratulations to Andy," he said. "You absolutely deserve this win. You played incredible tennis. Congratulations to his team, I know how much it means to them, and how much it means to you guys, and the whole country. It was a pleasure to be a part of this final."

Thirteen days earlier, after an even more unexpected defeat, Rafael Nadal faced the massed ranks of the press. Some journalists would later describe his upset by world No. 135, Steve Darcis, of Belgium, as among the greatest in tennis history.

Nadal's discomfort on court had not been difficult to discern. He was moving gingerly, sometimes in obvious pain. He was not a million miles off the pace, but it was sufficient to give his opponent a chance, which he took with admirable composure.

Not surprisingly, the press wanted to talk about Nadal's injury. They wanted to know the extent of his pain and whether it might lead to an extended period out of the game, as happened this time last year. But Nadal was having none of it. He did not want a discussion of his injuries to detract from a life-changing victory for his opponent.

Again and again, he batted away volleys from the press. "It is not the right day (to talk about it)," he said. "I tried my best out there in every moment. The only thing that I can say today is to congratulate Steve Darcis. He played a fantastic match.

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