Novak was a weakling who could not last a 5th set"
I think it's a myth that this is a myth. Who that has followed his career thinks he ever couldn't last 5 ?
He could from the early days.
First time I saw him was 2005 in New York. He won a long 5 set match over Gael Monfils in round one. Later in the week played a long 5 setter against Verdasco in round three-- just coming up short. But it was clear this was one tough kid. He was only 18 at the time. 3rd round USO, 5 set battle. Not too shabby.
Yes, he bent the time-out rules and he would default and he may have had some allergy issues I don't know. But once he was committed to a match there wasn't much question about his ability to fight through 5.
Tell you the match that I thought this kid is the real deal. 2007 USO. He was only 20 then I believe. That five set win over Stapanek. It was about 4-3/4 hours in the Sept NY humidity. Anyone that thought he couldn't win 5 set matches after that match didn't see that match.