London, UK - Grand Slam legend has it that Roger Federer was always able to scent early victory over Andy Roddick by 'reading' the one-time US Open champ's weird on-court behavioral quirks of constantly tugging on his baseball cap, pulling up the shoulders of his Fred Perry sports shirt and fiddling with the waistband of his tennis shorts in a obsessive/compulsive ritual that got more and more frantic as Roddick edged ever closer to the close of his tennis career.
Tonight at the men's World Tour Finals in London, UK, world number two seed Novak Djokovic beat world number one Rafael Nadal after the Spaniard exhibited the same bizarre ritualistic performance of first tugging on the front and then on the rear of his shorts followed by a tap on the middle of his chest before rubbing the bridge of his nose, lightly licking his fingers, adjusting the right hand side of his Nike bandanna, touching the middle of his forehead again and then one final touch of the left side of the headband.
After just over 100 minutes of this stuff Nadal lost in straight sets, 6-3, 6-3, to the towering Serb having clocked up more than 90 displays of this weird ritualistic self-touching.
Commenting about the result of the finals a former coach who once trained Pete Sampras said how shocked he was to see a gaunt and highly nervous Nadal slink his way to defeat tonight at the ATP arena:
"He's looking kinda old for a kid who's not yet 30," Guido MacEnroe said, "old and like he's maybe missing half the hair he had this time a year ago.
"No wonder he's fiddling with his shorts and stuff all the time, the guy looks absolutely bushwhacked if ya ask me."
Rod Laver is 69