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Novak Djokovic’s secret weapon shows Andrey Rublev what he’s missing

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independent.co.uk

Everybody knows about Novak Djokovic’s movement, the textbook backhand and that fearsome mentality to always respond during vital points.

But even at 35 years of age and with 21 grand slams triumphs, there is a nuance to his game, a subtle adjustment to underline his relentless desire to improve and drain a final drop of potential from an extraordinary career.Inconsequential to many watching, but Djokovic’s second serve in his straight-sets Australian Open quarter-final victory over Andrey Rublev demonstrated how difficult it can be to expose the Serbian’s vulnerable side.In fact, Djokovic’s gutsy second serve shone brightly in this contest over two hours.

Revamped with extra menace at pivotal moments in the match, but also guided with immense control at other stages, it is enough to torment opponents.The Russian could be seen screaming both at himself and his team in the crowd at times as Djokovic dialled up an unpredictable and audacious second-serve game.Rublev actually landed slightly more first serves (70 percent) than Djokovic (64 percent), but won just 61 percent compared to 80 percent on the Serbian’s.

Yet the intriguing factor in the game is how Djokovic was rarely flustered when Plan A, dictated by every player’s ideal first serve, eluded him.Djokovic won 50 percent of the points on his second serve points, illustrating the difficulty in seizing a break - with just three such occurrences in the entire tournament.

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