Spellbinding Djokovic reminds us all exactly why we love sport

John Inverdale
IT’S sometimes important to put these things in context. This column, in its original form, was all about the current descent into mediocrity of Australian sport. How the ridiculous anointing of Bernard Tomic as the successor to Rod Laver died a horrible death on Saturday night when Federer showed him who was boss. Three straight sets and it was Roger and out, Bernie.

It was going to be about the shambolic rotational selection system of the national cricket team that has energised a hundred talk show phone-ins in recent weeks.

It was going to be about the rather sad reliance on an ageing Italian, Alessandro Del Piero to galvanise the Aussie soccer league, and the lamentable excuse that an over reliance on social media was the cause of the Aussie swim team’s poor performance at London 2012.

It was going to reference the Youth Olympic Festival featuring thousands of Olympians of the future who were betrayed by woeful publicity that meant the people of Sydney barely knew they were in town. It could have discussed the belief by many officials at those Games that Sydney 2000 led to a complacency that has left Aussie sport struggling to avoid relegation from the premier league of international competition.

It could have added that a media obsessed by rugby league transfers and Shane Warne’s transgressions is not really representing the best interests of a nation supposedly obsessed with sport, but in reality has to confront lower participation numbers and serious obesity issues that are all too familiar at home.

But forget all that – instead, this piece is being re-written at 2am because the final point of Novak Djokovic’s match against Stanislas Wawrinka in the Australian Open was so spellbinding that, for a brief period in time, the decline of Aussie sport, Lance Armstrong and Chelsea against Arsenal simply didn’t matter.

After more than five hours on court, and seemingly down and out, the world No1 produced a comeback culminating in a final winner of stratospheric proportions, that, just for now, we should all just gasp and marvel at it. Watch it on You Tube. Access it somehow. How is it possible for a man at the end of his human reserves to produce a shot like that to win such a gargantuan match?

So yes, Aussie sport has a myriad range of issues that need to be addressed if they are not to descend into an international league currently occupied by Papua New Guinea. But that is for another time.

For now – on the tube, the bus, at the office, wherever – watch the end of the Djokovic game and marvel. That’s why we love sport, Lance.