Peter Bodo's TennisWorld - Serbian Jimbo
Home       About Peter Bodo       Contact        RSS       Follow on Twitter Categories       Archive
Serbian Jimbo 04/30/2008 - 3:22 PM

I haven't had much occasion to write about Novak Djokovic lately, but a few people did solicit my opinion on the way he pulled out of his semifinal battle with Roger Federer, complaining of a sore throat and dizziness, while trailing by a set in Monte Carlo last week. Then, thanks to El Jon Wertheim, we all saw that clip of an irritated Roger Federer chiding Djokovic's parents for being a little too vocal in protesting what turned out to be an accurate call against their boy, Nole.

Don't you just love seeing The Mighty Fed in that rarest  of all modes, disgruntlement? El Jon suggested giving him bonus points for that spontaneous and entirely justified reaction, and I'd add a few more for that clay-kicking gesture. Next thing you know, TMF will be impersonating some major league baseball manager, belly-to-belly and eyeball-to-eyeball with an umpire, kicking dirt on the poor official's shoes, firing spittle as he argues his case with a vein popping out of his forehead.

As if. . .

Nole Anyway, so what is it with Novak? There's clearly a pattern emerging in his retirements against top rivals, as Kamakshi Tandon's analysis makes abundantly clear. It's both a futile and inviting issue to contemplate. My own attitude, which was partly behind my decision to ignore the (non-)story, is that I don't really give a dang what happens once the first ball is put into play; a guy retires with ailments or injuries that aren't obvious, he just gets the "L". No asterisk, no story, we move on.

In a way it's like a breaking-news doping story. I don't delve into what I can't know or substantiate, because all I can do then is exercise my prejudices toward one or the other party. But in doping cases there is hard evidence and that takes precedence over all other factors. I accept the science-based  ruling until such time as the ruling is overturned or changed by the powers that be  - and then I accept that.

What is noteworthy is that Djokovic was pretty well positioned to make a good run on clay at Monte Carlo, as evidenced by his earlier wins over Andy Murray and  surprise quarterfinalist Sam Querrey. He said early in the tournament, "I haven't won a major event on clay, so I always have highest possible intentions and goals any tournament I play. I think I have enough quality to beat the best players in the world - even on this surface. I had more time than last year to prepare, to rest and to work on some things, particular things for clay, and hopefully it's going to pay off in the tournaments."

Given that rosy analysis, combined with Djokovic's admission that his road to the semifinal was not very taxing or stressful, it's hard to imagine that his was a retirement of convenience. Head games?  Nah, not unless your talking about his own head. Just how does throwing in the towel because you feel dizzy and had a sore throat for a few days give you some kind of devious psychological advantage over a guy who just got sent home early from work, which consisted of beating up on you?

The most likely explanation is that Djokovic's immune system goes haywire; sirens go off and all sorts of red lights start flashing when he's in a particularly stressful situation, which is not to say that he's inventing or lying about his physical condition. It just tells you that some particle of discomfort, perhaps abetted by nerves, suddenly swells to the size of the Blarney Stone. And hey, the Blarney Stone does exist, and it's heavy.

It's impossible to know what's in Djokovic's head during matches in which his body persuades him that he'd better quit, but we have a pretty good idea of what does not go on: No aspect of his being is screaming, You've got to finish this match, suckah! We also know what's going on in there when he's kicking back in the press interview room, or otherwise out of combat. He's a very ambitious young guy, dying to prove his mettle for a host of reasons, including his desire to represent his native Serbia in the best possible light. It's pretty clear that Djokovic doesn't believe that Top Five status of the kind enjoyed by David Ferrer or Nikolay Davydenko is going to cut it for him, either personally or as an ambassador-at-large.

For some time now, Djokovic has been declaring his intention to catch and even surpass Federer and Rafael Nadal, with pronouncements seemingly unleavened by the customary prudence of newcomers. That approach has made many of us respect Djokovic's healthy disregard for the pecking order; others see his words tainted by arrogance, and lack of respect for the accomplishments and talents of his rivals.  Most of us fall into one of two camps: those who increasingly see Djokovic as an aggressive, imperious young dude who takes himself way too seriously (he's currently the pro most likely to end up talking about himself in the third person), and those who are willing to forgive him for having an excessive amount of what might be called youthful impetuosity, exacerbated at times by an insufficient command of nuanced language. What can you expect, the Grand Slam tongues are not his own.

Anybody who lived through the Jimmy Connors era can be forgiven for responding to Djokovic's "controversial" comments with a shrug and the observation, He reminds me of a well-mannered version of Jimbo. In fact, Djokovic may be an appropriately muted, European version of that American barbarian. But you always had the feeling that the only weight on Jimmy's shoulders (Oedipal ghosts are, of course, weightless) was that of his hair back in those Prince Valiant days. He had not a care in the world, other than how he was going to do this to Rod Laver, or that to John Newcombe and Bjorn Borg.

It strikes me that Djokovic is carrying more baggage and not just conscious of it, but hyper-conscious. He's dying to carry it ably, in order to make his family and countrymen proud in a way that would carry none of those vaguely depressing caveats, like, He did incredibly well. . .for a guy from Serbia.

Also, you'll remember that Connors was one of those individuals who demonstrated that pretty much anyone can describe himself as an "outsider", and reap benefits as well as the censures. Djokovic is similar, but his justifications even more powerful. Jimbo's status as an outsider rested on the fact that he grew up "on the wrong side of the tracks" (even though his mother, Gloria, was so in the thick of the tennis mainstream that she dated Chris Evert's father, Jimmy). Djokovic grew up off the tennis grid in Serbia, and he popped onto the tour when it was utterly dominated and locked up by Federer and Nadal. They are his versions of Connors's establishment bugaboos, Stan Smith and Ken Rosewall.

One critical similarity between Djokovic and Connors is that both have been accused of being lousy sports who did a fair amount of manipulation in their drive for success. For Connors, the accusations were based on his attempts to intimidate officials and opponents, and his "ducking" of the top players by refusing to play the main, WCT tour early in his career. The complaints against Djokovic are similar: he doesn't sufficiently "respect" Federer and Nadal; he "ducks" out of big matches against the best players by succumbing to mystery ailments. After all, there is no alternative tour, like there was back in Connors' heyday.

So Djokovic is loosely following in the footprints of Connors and any other player who can claim to have done things "My way." Like Connors, Djokovic has circled the (family) wagons and keeps his own counsel, although he has nothing like Connors's siege mentality. Djokovic also has a much better grasp of public relations and basic decorum than Jimbo ever did. This sense that you have to figure it out all by yourself, with such an enormous amount at stake, can become oppressive. It creates pressure, and pressure always seeks an outlet. If denied, the pressure shuts down the machine.

Djokovic doesn't have an insane number of points to defend during the clay-court swing; he lost in the third round at Monte Carlo last  year, but his win at Estoril is coming off the rolls. Then he's got two quarters (Rome and Hamburg) to duplicate, along with his Roland Garros semifinal. He's within striking distance of his rivals, and making good on some predictions that once struck many as borderline delusional. It's gut-check time for Djokovic, and that's enough to make anyone dizzy.


357
Comments
Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.
1 2 3 4      >>

Posted by afwu 1216 04/30/2008 at 03:34 PM

FIRST!!!!

Posted by advantage 04/30/2008 at 03:37 PM

huge fan of the djoker here, but there's no excusing the retirements.

Posted by zolarafa 04/30/2008 at 03:38 PM

Numero Uno? first?OMG!

Posted by zolarafa 04/30/2008 at 03:38 PM

awfu1216,
how dare you? I thought that was me! :)

Posted by Sher 04/30/2008 at 03:44 PM

Pete, you alude to the weight that Djokovic is carrying, and I'd love you to elaborate. Otherwise, interesting article, I'll have to think about some of the observations you've made here. The analogy with Connors seems solid.

Posted by sufman 04/30/2008 at 03:59 PM

I don't think djokovic should be compared to Connors after just winning one Slam. Although you make a few interesting points, their personalities are very different. Connors was also never a quitter in the league of djokovic's.

Posted by DMS 04/30/2008 at 04:01 PM

"Most of us fall into one of two camps: those who increasingly see Djokovic as an aggressive, imperious young dude who takes himself way too seriously (he's currently the pro most likely to end up talking about himself in the third person)"

...count me in this part of the park.

RE:"He reminds me of a well-mannered version of Jimbo"

...weelll ok, but I prefer Connors, he is from my backyard (I am a nationalist like the Djoker) so I prefer Jimbo for this inane reason as well.

RE: "Don't you just love seeing The Mighty Fed in that rarest of all modes, disgruntlement?"
...especially since it was aimed at the ones more annoying than the clown himself, his parents...only thing better would have been if they were wearing their WallyWorld t-shirts at the time.

Posted by Srinivas 04/30/2008 at 04:01 PM

"The most likely explanation is that Djokovic's immune system goes haywire; sirens go off and all sorts of red lights start flashing when he's in a particularly stressful situation, which is not to say that he's inventing or lying about his physical condition. It just tells you that some particle of discomfort, perhaps abetted by nerves, suddenly swells to the size of the Blarney Stone." - The word you are looking for Pete is Psycho-somatic, although in this case more psycho- than -somatic. I am no great fan of Djokovic OR the alarmingly frequent practice of pulling out of matches, but besides robbing the opponent (in this case the much adored Mr.Federer) of the satisfaction of beating him, and the ticket buying fans of their money's worth, he is not really committing a crime here. So everyone (well who are we kidding, mostly TMF fans) should take it easy and let a slightly different personality evolve into what might be an interesting and pattern breaking development for tennis.

Posted by Martin 04/30/2008 at 04:02 PM

May the Djerk gain no ground this clay season. That is all.

Posted by arbiter 04/30/2008 at 04:03 PM

Bodo, form one to ten, how much do you hate Serbs?

You always pick the ugliest picture of Nole (tennis.com always does this with Russians, lately with Serbs) and you are SPECULATING.

Djokovic has BREATHING problems. That is obvious even to a non-professional. He has a strong will, that is how he overcomes difficulties.

Thanks for another hate speach...

Posted by zolarafa 04/30/2008 at 04:03 PM

I have many things to say about Djoko, but I don't think it is a good time. We are all praising Rafa, talking about how great he is. Same about Federer, his efforts, talents, etc. I don't want to talk negatively about Djoko right now.

All I can say is that he needs a good person to sit down and talk with him and give him some advice that obviously are not going to come from his parents.

Posted by lira vega 04/30/2008 at 04:10 PM

There's been much talk about this last couple of days and many people suggested that his problems are stress related which I have to say is a bit surprising to me (wasn't he considered one of the mentally toughest guys on tour just a week ago?). My take on it is that he is still struggling with breathing. As all people probably know he had deviated septum and had surgery to fix that but he also has allergies and I don't think surgery could have fixed that. Normally those allergies start acting up with spring and you could notice heavy breathing in some of his previous matches at MC too. After his surgery I remember him giving interview saying almost angrily those breathing problems are a thing of past and he wishes people would stop talking about them because many players are trying to prolong points against him reading about them so it makes sense that he would try to mask them with something else when they reappear especially because there's not anything else he could do to take care of that. I remember him trying some herbs or something like that which helped Ana Ivanovic who had similar issue though not as serious but it didn't work for him.
Having said that he's clearly not of a fighting kind...
Oh, and please ignore trolling Pete, I would say you are most respected tennis writer in Serbia and all tennis fans regularly read your blog (though there were many negative comments after that Slobodan one...)

Posted by SwissMaestro 04/30/2008 at 04:17 PM

sufman,

"Connors was also never a quitter in the league of djokovic's".
---------

Loved it. Connors was NEVER a quitter like Djokovic.

Posted by mariej... vamos king of clay ! 04/30/2008 at 04:21 PM

yeah, connors, why not ? connors entitled himself to do some borderline things that back in his time were far more comon among his pairs... there were some spit on your face guys and some gentlemen too, but times are different now, no ?
djokovic is not living and playing in that kind of era...
where are the bad boys in 2008 ? marat, soderling ? please !!!
i'm sorry pete, but i totally disagree... justifying djoko retirement because connors was... connors, it's like trying to swallow that blarney stone... i can't !

i don't think djoko liked or wanted to get beaten when he probably wasn't feeling 100%...end of story for me.
we can go on speculating about the reasons explaining his health problemns in his semifinal for ages, and beat that dead horse again and again without finding any convincing explanation
it was a foolish and immature attitude to retire, imo.

Posted by L. Rubin 04/30/2008 at 04:23 PM

arbiter,

I cannot believe you wrote that repulsive response after reading this entirely sympathetic article. [Can] you point me to any echoes of racism or hate in Bodo's article?

[]

--Liron

Posted by SwissMaestro 04/30/2008 at 04:23 PM

Not to beat that dead horse yet again but I think Federer was very much in his way to defeat Djokovic convincingly regardless.

Posted by Jenn 04/30/2008 at 04:24 PM

Pete, nice piece. I am not going to review everyone's comments, though, because this will undoubtedy ignite another Djokovic: classless jerk or not? debate (with some inevitable shots at his family for good measure). I understand the arguments against him, but I think for the most part the "controversial" statements have been overblown and you are so right to point out how much worse players like Connors were both in their conduct on court and statements off court. I'm just getting tired of the relentless bashing of him. Its gotten so predictable. If someone can't get control of their nerves, breathing, immune system, whatever, and it is hindering their performance, I feel badly for them. Hope he figures it out.

Posted by Serpiko 04/30/2008 at 04:26 PM

Pete,
I must admit I still have issues to digest your articles after that piece of work you wrote after IW that was the mixture of sport, politcs and God knows what else.
Anyway, in this latest article you made some good points on Djokovic overal profile.
I must say , that many people here in Serbia were unhappy to see him retiring vs. RF (inluding myself) and lots of papers are writting currently about all Novak's retirements... It was an immature decision he made, but I am sure he will learn from this mistake. He always does and that is why he will be number one soon in 2008.
I dissagree in general that Novak should be compared to Connors since he is not in the "barbarian league". Djokovic is a young, super ambitious guy, behaving sometimes out of balance but he is a true gentlemen in the game. I mean, he is the only one who is applauding the opponents points.. Many people think that this is marketing, but I follow the guy already 5-6 years and he was doing the same while playing futures in Belgrade in front of 20 people at the age of 16-17
I belong to people who believe that time will show how Novak is really great. At age of 21 he is so close to be complete as player (true, net game should be improved) that I am "afraid" to see him at his 25... He is type of player who will always work on himself, work and only work + enjoying his life on and off the courts -> quality he already show to us.

One thing about Novak vs. Roger: many people here say that Djokovic is arrogant because he is not showing enough respect tho RF and RN. I think that he shows just enough respect,as much as it is required. Due to his attitude and determination he brough some dynamics to today's tennis. One of the reasons Roger is paying the price know is that he did not want to acknowledge the presence of Novak (yes, I know many people will attack me but Novak tumbled RF confidence big time...). And, his words "be quite" in the given video clip above demonstrates another dimension of his arrogance that is totally out of order. He positions himself to high, as a king and that is why he looks terrible bad on press conferences after losing to Novak.... His hatred to Novak and his family is becoming to obvious and really not polite.
If only Novak (ranked 80 something..) had not said in monte carlo in 2006 after losing to Fed 2-1.. "I could have won the match"..and "I will be number one"... Roger's vanity is really bad and by these moves he shows how small he is as a person and how small he will be in the future when he starts to lose more and more matches. I think that begining of his end started in 2008...of course, thanks to Novak.
Regards,

Posted by waylandboy 04/30/2008 at 04:27 PM

Very interesting comparison Pete. I didn't know all of that history about Jimmy's early days. There is no denying Djoker's immense talent and abilities and he may get to #1. But like Justine Henin's classless retirement against Mauresmo, Novak's retirements will not be forgotten by tennis fans either unless he starts to fight through matches when he's less than 100%. Jimmy had a great career of course and he certainly was polarizing too so it'll make following NJ's career interesting too.

Posted by 1963USCtennis 04/30/2008 at 04:37 PM

"Roger's vanity is really bad and by these moves he shows how small he is as a person "

now I have read everything. This is hilarious.

YEah, ok. Bad Roger...bad!

Posted by Or 04/30/2008 at 04:39 PM

I don't rule out the entire psycho-sometic issues. But I'm not sold on those.

Djoko definitly didn't claim breathing problems again, had he done so, I would have accepted the anxiety/psycho-sometic arguement better.

He gave a very specific reasoning, sore throat, dizziness. Not something that happened during the match, but something that was bothering for days, and got harder to deal with just when he was losing.

I'd love to give him the benefit of the doubt, it just doesn't make sense to me.

Posted by SwissMaestro 04/30/2008 at 04:39 PM

Serpiko,

Well... I really don't know how much of a gentleman Djokovic is and how much sportmanship him and his family are showing with comments such as:

- "He is going down" (at the '07 Australian Open and then got pounded by Federer)
- "The king is dead" (by his mother)
- "He will never loose to Roger again" (his father I think)
- "Federer is more vulnerable now" (after Dubai)

Of course he gets under Federer skin. Federer does not like him off the court for all this non-sense arrogance. I commented that Novak tries ahrd to be liked. He applauds opponents' shots, he embraces them in the end at the net regardless of the result etc.. But why do yo uthink people keep on rooting always for whoever the guy in the other side of the net is? I think it is because Djokovic's attempts are not legitimate. Federer has been on tour way longer than Djoko and has never retired from a match and I can tell you a couple of times when he should have probably done it but still didn't. To me, that is the ultimate showing of respect you can have for your opponent besides always giving him your best.

Posted by Serpiko 04/30/2008 at 04:41 PM

@ 1963USCtennis
It is not hilarious at all. It is true and in a way sad. I am sorry to write this but since I had a different impression of Federer before. Afer all, this my point of view only.
Cheers,

Posted by Tari 04/30/2008 at 04:41 PM

Oy. Lots of over protecting of Djoko going on. :)

Posted by Bolofan 04/30/2008 at 04:41 PM

It is very hard for me to understand why that ignorant is allowed to write such non sense. For sure he is racist and many others
worst things. He better dedicates to write fiction.

Posted by Pete 04/30/2008 at 04:46 PM

Thank you, Lira Vega and Ms. Rubin. I live in the kitchen so I am accustomed to the heat, but I still appreciate that kind of support. And Sufman, I wasn't comparing Djokovic's record with Connors's; it was more about the similarity of their situations (conditioned, of course, by their respective times and cultures). Sher, I'm afraid I have no great revelations about the weight that Djokovic carries other than what is articulated in the piece - he's an "outsider", with a keen sense of representing his people who are emerging from a difficult period. I suppose having such hands-on parents is a "weight" as well- no matter how much they bring to the table in terms of support and having underwritten his early development.

Posted by L.Rubin 04/30/2008 at 04:46 PM

Bolofan,

Say what?


Posted by mri 04/30/2008 at 04:47 PM

I think the Fed-Djoko semi in MC turned around at one let-cord on break point. It went Fed's way when he was serving down two break points. That probably broke Djoko's spirit in the first set. Afterwards when Fed served for the set, Djoko tried hard breaking Federer but wouldnt happen. That sort of dented Djoko's confidence further. In this recent series of Fed-Djoko matches, the guy who has taken the first set has gone on to take the match. That said I want to see a nice battle between the two w/o any retirements. We should probably cut Djoko some slack.Its getting a little redundant. He has been managing expectations well and hasnt created a monster like Fed where he has to win all matches, all tournaments. Retirement is not the smartest thing but atleast he does come to play in grandslams. I think Djoko, courtesy of the 2-handed backhand has a slightly better probability of beating Nadal on clay than Fed.

Posted by Serpiko 04/30/2008 at 04:48 PM

Swiss Maestro
Many of the statements you put were taken out of the context.
Applauding, embracing...I wrote this is not marketing, he has been doing this all his life man.
By the way, Djokovic is not trying to be liked. He is already liked by many, many people from all over the World ... after just one year of spotlight. Dont worry about his awareness Worldwid. It is there and it is coming.
All negativeness from Djokovic and his family came as a result of Fed's super arrogance to Novak.

Posted by Christopher 04/30/2008 at 04:50 PM

"You always pick the ugliest picture of Nole (tennis.com always does this with Russians, lately with Serbs)"

Pete-- Just to be safe, perhaps you should begin all your posts with something along the lines of "All Hail Serbia Eternal!" Otherwise it seems like ANYTHING you say will be read as some kind of attack. Weird world.

I'm not sure I fully buy the Connors comparison, but it's interesting to think about. Djoko seems to me more simply immature, without the kind of anger and malevolence Connors often showed. I can't, for example, imagine Djoko rubbing out a mark so the umpire can't check it (though I wonder what the response to such behavior would be these days). On the other side, as someone said above, I can't imagine Connors retiring with less than a severed arm, and even then...

Posted by ptenisnet 04/30/2008 at 04:51 PM

I think there is room in all of argument-space for the one that postulates that neither Federer nor Djokovic are pure concentrated evil. Arrogance, well, they've both won grand slam titles a little amount of that is forgivable.


I kind of think a lot of djoko's burdens are unnecessary and self inflicted.


Posted by SwissMaestro 04/30/2008 at 04:51 PM

Serpiko,

To me again. Finishing a match regardless of your condition is the utmost proof of respect you can have for your opponent besides always giving it your all. I don't think Djokovis necesarily fits in the former nor the latter.

Yeah, Djokovis is so liked that he is ALMOST always rooted against. Remember the Australian Open final? Want to go with a pole to find out how many people think Federer is arrogant? or how many like Federer better than Djokovic out of Serbia? please...

Posted by nikdom 04/30/2008 at 04:52 PM

Great job Pete! I was looking forward to your opinion on this issue and you did not disappoint. Unlike others here, I think your article was very balanced, took a level-headed view of the issue of injuries and pull-outs and I don't think you were uncharitable to Djokovic as some here seem to think.

Posted by 04/30/2008 at 04:52 PM

I read somewhere that the Djokovic parents no longer have their fabled pizza and pancake restaurant, and that their job is now "supporting" their oldest son.

I wonder if Nole's breathing problems when faced with a high-profile loss aren't partially related to him, at age 20, being responsible for supporting a family of five.

Posted by avid sports fan 04/30/2008 at 04:53 PM

Serpiko,

Roger is paying the price know is that he did not want to acknowledge the presence of Novak (yes, I know many people will attack me but Novak tumbled RF confidence big time...).

I am not a Fed Fan but I think your point above is not an accurate representation. I remember clearly from the USO 2007 final after the match when Federer was told he did very well winning in straight sets he said that the scoreline did not reflect the difficulty he faced in winning the match and that Novak is truly a great player. That is not to say how many more times in other interviews that he has acknowledged that Novak is a great upcoming player. I'm sure it would be fool hardy for Federer not to acknowledge the presence of anyone right after him in ranking aka Nadal and Djokovic

Personally I fell in love with Djokovic during the USO 2007 match and I found myself sad almost to the point of crying when he lost and I thought to myself this is a real no. 1 in the making (and that coming from a hardcore Nadal fan who should be showing more hateration lol). Novak will surely become no. 1 sooner or later and hopefully by then he will realize there is a lot in not just becoming no. 1 but in remaining no. 1.

As far as retirement is concerned, only a person can tell how much his body can bear (we all can speculate). However, I think what made his last retirement a bone of contention is the bold statement made by his parent that USO 2007 is the last time he will lose to Federer (so in subtle way by retiring he did not *lose* because for all we can we all speculate how the match could have gone) and in general comments he has made in some of his retirements e.g., I was in control of the match (yet you retired) in the FO 2007 semi final. I do feel he has some maturing to do and will surely mature.

Posted by 1963USCtennis 04/30/2008 at 04:54 PM

Serpiko:

cheers.

However you went way overboard by clasifying RF as a small person.

He is one of the classiest champions the sport has ever had, and one of the greatests. So taking a shot at him by you in defense of your boy seemed quite the joke to me. My opinion also.

That is all this is. Opinions by different people.

As to Nole, I personally do not like his "tactics". His one gazzillion bounces before serving smell like dirty tennis to me. Bodo did correlate him to a guy who in his hay day was very much the personification of tactics and some dirty tennis himself, Jimbo. Although Jimbo certainly matured as he grew older.

Nole retired last year in the Wimby SF vs Nadal.
Maybe he should read what the Aussies used to say:
If you are fit, you play.
If you play, you're fit.

This sound to me like when I beat a younger, stronger player and then after the "handshake", he continues (double standard...and drum roll) to tell me, HOW MUCH HIS BACK IS HURTING...

Ha , ha , ha....

When I was growing up these things were explained to me as:

EXCUSES.

Posted by nikdom 04/30/2008 at 04:54 PM

Also, well said ptenisnet!

Posted by harini 04/30/2008 at 04:55 PM

i wasn't around to watch jimmy connors play but from what i know of connors, i can't really see a similarity between him and djoko. if you're talking about a player who gets under other players' skins, hewitt could be compared to connors too. a lot of pros disliked lleyton supremely.

as far as djoko's concerned, i like him as a player. i do like him as a person, to be honest. i think some of his antics are annoying (i got tired of the impersonations and i cannot stand his injury timeouts) and some of the things he and his family have said didn't need to be said. his retirement against fed last week--he gave a weak reason for it. i was watching that match and he looked like he could have gone on.

i agree that he does have a pressure of doing well on tour and representing his country in a good way. and, this just came to me, maybe his snarky comments are a weird way of saying that he wants to be on the top, just as federer has been all these years. it just comes out in a rude way.

i've kind of rambled here but i just put down what i was thinking. he's been getting a lot of flack and i just hope he realises to not create so much drama with all these "i'll be no. 1" or whatever comments and focuses on his game and does well in tournaments. if he wants to be no. 1, he's got to do that, not piss off other players.

and yes, he is young and he has time to mature. every player is different and matures differently. djoko's still maturing.

Posted by Grant 04/30/2008 at 04:56 PM

"I think there is room in all of argument-space for the one that postulates that neither Federer nor Djokovic are pure concentrated evil."

Not only is this a lie, but if you dare to question my favorite you are an evil racist!

Posted by Matt Zemek 04/30/2008 at 04:59 PM

Pete,

While I personally think this article is accurate as a matter of raw analysis and as an examination of the human mechanism in its emotional, familial and ethnic dimensions, I wish to reserve my heartiest and most full-throated praise for this fact:

You have treated Mr. Djokovic with profound empathy, decency, and humanity.

Congratulations. Well done. Whenever a sportswriter honors both his subject and his profession--especially when avoiding the the all-too-easy inclination to do a hit piece (and I've been in that arena, sometimes admittedly crossing the line in my earlier years)--I feel proud to be a sportswriter myself. My soul is enriched and gladdened.

Thanks, Pete! Duty, honor, integrity.

Posted by Serpiko 04/30/2008 at 04:59 PM

Swiss
I was so clear about retiring,please read my posts. He should have stayed on the court and lose the match in a proper way. End of story.
Australian Open..whole World got crazy about Tsonga, outsider, similarites with the great Mohamed Ali.. People like stories like that. And indeed, Tsonga is a great guy, so why not to cheer for him after all.
But..do you remember US Open? I think Djoko did pretty well there....
Anyway, this spotlight discussion is useless and I reco to stop it.
On the other hand, some people I cannot understand here. One Serbian comes here, write something that people are not used to hear, read...and you immediatelly start to use words like racism etc... really, really strange. Food for thought guys.

Posted by ptenisnet 04/30/2008 at 05:00 PM

"IS pure concentrated evil"

gah! What is it about seeing it in quotes that sets your grammar in sharp relief.

Posted by avid sports fan 04/30/2008 at 05:02 PM

Matt Zemek,

You have treated Mr. Djokovic with profound empathy, decency, and humanity.

Totally well said.

Pete you did a great job. I guess I should have said that first lol

Posted by SwissMaestro 04/30/2008 at 05:03 PM

Serpiko,

Those just were counter arguments to your original arguments. Your are the one not making sense to most of us. I am not even American and I can see it. Get a grip bud...

Posted by mariej... vamos king of clay ! 04/30/2008 at 05:07 PM

serpiko :
applauding the shots of your opponent is not the highest mark for being a true gentlemen of the game... at least in my book.
plenty of players do it, blake for instance, ljubicic even rafa sometimes...
being a true gentlemen is more than that, it's the way you handle yourself on and off court...
djoko has some spunk, and he's not afraid to make strong statements, because he believes enough in himself to reach the goals, it's totally fine by me... he would look totatlly arrogant if he would have fail to beat rafa, fed and some other guys... but since he has beaten all the top dogs and won some big titles, i guess it's fine.
we need guys like djoko, but he also needs to mature on his behavior, he's young so he'll learn.
having such a great player like him in serbia is a good enough reason to feel very proud no matter what he does, but sometimes if he does wrong he needs to be told he's wrong.


Posted by L.Rubin 04/30/2008 at 05:07 PM

SwissMaestro,

Let's go over the four "disses" you mentiones:

1. "He is going down"
That was a joke, for god's sake!

2. "The king is dead"
You can't hate Djoker for this, as it was voiced by his
loud-assed mother.

3. "He will never loose to Roger again"
Take the

- "Federer is more vulnerable now" (after Dubai)

Posted by Tim 04/30/2008 at 05:08 PM

I really get the fact that DJoko's fans are passionate and proud of him and all that, he's done an amazing job rising so quickly to the top, but some of his fan's attitudes here are exactly that of Djoko's himself: he beats Federer once in a Slam, and he truly thinks he's done his work, and Federer will simply go away, and cease being competitive, and Novak will never lose to him again ...

so youre outraged when Federer gets competitive and stands up for himself, when everyone knows you dont shout out from the stands about linecalls, or tell the press one of the greatest players in history is "dead" .. who's the one being impolite here? "be quiet" is about as polite as you can get in sports! what on earth do soccer fans say during a game? a polite reality check is in order here ..

the sad thing here is that DJoko's quick success might end up being his downfall as well... champions win a lot of matches, but they also must sometimes lose, and when they do, they credit the opponent, they dont default with 'dizziness' or verbally stamp on him and expect him to just disappear ...

Im still amazed that Novak's ego is such that he couldnt bear the idea of losing to Roger Federer ... what happens when he loses to Rafa on clay in Rome or Paris? the obvious nerves he's displaying even in random matches are bizarre to me, I hope they dont crush him, because if no one else dares say it, here it is -- Novak, youre gonna lose a lot of matches in the future, when the other guy plays too good, and thats tennis no matter what your name is ...

a great player like Nadal went 8 months without winning a tournament, and Fed needed Estoril to break into the winner's circle in 2008 ... do Novak's fans truly expect him to win every time, unless he's sick or injured? does Novak himself?

Id hate to think that with a Slam now under his belt, that Novak can only be charming now when he's winning ... let's hope MC was just a blip and nothing more...

Posted by L.Rubin 04/30/2008 at 05:11 PM

Sorry. Accidental Pose.

I continue:

3. Read point # 3 and substitute "father" for "mother." Is Nole responsible for his overzealous parents? Hardly . . .

4. "Federer is more vulnerable now."
An accurate assessment at the time it was voiced.

Posted by Chris 04/30/2008 at 05:11 PM

Interesting observations. I don't like Djokovic for his arrogance and match-quitting, but I try and temper that disdain by recognizing that he is only 20 years old and finds himself in extraordinary circumstances. His parents' arrogance and comments - particularly his mother's - are less excusable (e.g., "the king is dead").

Then again, we've never seen this kind of behavior from Federer, Nadal or their families, who are in exactly the same situation.

Posted by Chris 04/30/2008 at 05:12 PM

Interesting observations. I don't like Djokovic for his arrogance and match-quitting, but I try and temper that disdain by recognizing that he is only 20 years old and finds himself in extraordinary circumstances. His parents' arrogance and comments - particularly his mother's - are less excusable (e.g., "the king is dead").

Then again, we've never seen this kind of behavior from Federer, Nadal or their families, who are in exactly the same situation.

Posted by SwissMaestro 04/30/2008 at 05:13 PM

Rubin,

I pointed those comments out as a way to show Serpiko that DjokoviC does not show as much respect as he might be thinking he does.

Posted by avid sports fan 04/30/2008 at 05:16 PM

" Rubin, I pointed those comments out as a way to show Serpiko that DjokoviC does not show as much respect as he might be thinking he does. "

Serena Williams who arguably people say is the worst loser applauds good shots from her opponents (and I am a serena fan so not hate here!)

Posted by Sherlock 04/30/2008 at 05:16 PM

"Given that rosy analysis, combined with Djokovic's admission that his road to the semifinal was not very taxing or stressful, it's hard to imagine that his was a retirement of convenience."

Really? Boy, I don't know. I think it gives more credence to this idea. He obviously wasn't taxed physically coming in. He didn't blame it on breathing issues.

I agree that a lot of Djoko's stuff is much ado about nothing. He's young, he'll get over it. But that retirement was a bit ridiculous in my mind.

And personally, retirements do matter to me. I think the athletes at the top of their profession should fight till the end.

If Roger retired like this, I think the criticism would last for weeks.

"Pete-- Just to be safe, perhaps you should begin all your posts with something along the lines of "All Hail Serbia Eternal!""

Brilliant, Christopher. :)

Posted by L.Rubin 04/30/2008 at 05:18 PM

SwissM,

I understand that, but two of the quotes you mentioned were not authored by Nole.

--Liron

Posted by SwissMaestro 04/30/2008 at 05:18 PM

avid sports fan,

Nobody has mentioned Serena's ways here.

Posted by avid sports fan 04/30/2008 at 05:21 PM

SwissMaestro,

I know that I'm just reinforcing the fact that applauding an opponents good shots is done by many people in the sport so may not be the best yard stick for being respectful or gentlemanly.

Posted by geikou 04/30/2008 at 05:21 PM

Eh, might as well drop a couple cents into this, although I'm certainly not a regular here.

Regarding allergies, I have plenty of them, so I'm quite familiar with that territory. 1) They tend to go away with exercise unless they're *extremely* severe (and I mean incapacitatingly so). 2) I saw no symptoms of allergies from Novak during the match. No sniffling, runny nose, sneezing, not even a rub at the nose.

After rewatching some of the match against Roger, I must admit that Novak did appear to be taking really deep breaths between points towards the end, though, perhaps indicating difficulty breathing. However, this didn't appear to really affect him during the points themselves, and besides, difficulty breathing was not a reason he gave (and he was pretty specific) for his retirement. Of course, as mentioned by someone else, perhaps he was just trying to cover that up because he doesn't want it to be an issue anymore...

Anyway, from the way he was playing, it did not seem that he was to the point where he could not continue. That being said, whether you choose to retire--even if you have a very minor problem and still could finish the match--is entirely a personal choice, IMO. There's no rule in tennis saying that you can only retire is your life is in imminent jeopardy or some such. On the other hand, retirements do go a long way to illustrate the character of the player in question. Roger has never retired, even when he had legitimate cause to. Personal choice, personal ethics, but wonderful ones for the sport, IMO. Novak is the one who will have to deal with angry fans (I do feel very badly for the fans who are watching in person when this happens, as they *paid* for their tickets) when he retires. He's the one who'll someday have to live up to what's posted on his website or he'll eat his words. He's the one who will never get that respect from Roger that some people think he desires so much as long as he behaves this way.

Yes, he's young. Yes, some players take longer to develop than others. But yes, he's also made this mistake more than once. Only time will tell.

Posted by SwissMaestro 04/30/2008 at 05:22 PM

Rubin,

Missunderstanding settled. I like Djokovic's game but not so much his attitude and foretalking. I really think that the more he does the worse it will backfire on him. I've said it before.

Posted by longlivetennis 04/30/2008 at 05:22 PM

I think Pete gets paid by the lenght of his articles, otherwise we dont need such a long article explaining the obvious that Djokovic lacks physical fitness, sometimes he is out of air and other times he is holding his back like a 70year old and getting massages. Comparison to Jimbo doesn't make any sense at all, that guy played till the age of 38 or 40 and I don't even see Djoker playing too many five-setters rather playing till 30. I can see Djoker getting beaten by Ferrer or anyother guy in top 10 who can take him to five sets as there is a good chance that he'll quit.

Posted by Pierre 04/30/2008 at 05:24 PM

I think Djokovic is quickly getting ready to join that group of tennis players who are not appreciated, who don’t get the adulation they deserve, and whose comments are treated unfairly.

One sign will be the first time someone says “If Djokovic had said that, he would never have gotten a pass…”

I won’t bother to think of who else is in that group, maybe Henin, the Williams sisters, etc.

There will be people to defend him of course, but the problem with being in that club is that in order to get into it in the first place, you must have some unpopular or uncharismatic personal characteristic, so the very fact that you are a member counts against you and tends to perpetuate the persecution.

Posted by embug 04/30/2008 at 05:25 PM

As Djokovic spoke with Federer, right beneath the chair umpire, he glanced at the camera and looked away and back to Roger, turning his body slightly away from the lens. I thought his gesture protective, as if he didn't want the ears and eyes of the media listening in. Personally, I believe the weight on his shoulders is partially due to his parents expectations. I can just hear them say, "don't ever lose to that Swiss guy again." From their behavior in the stands at Monte Carlo and at the AO, they seem way over the top and righteous about all of it and them. If Djokovic aspires to be number one in the world, he better learn to play through. Pete, you're right. At the end of this match, the only fact was "L." Nole lost by quitting. He also denied TMF that additional momentum he might have gotten had he went on and legitimately beaten the Serb. If that was part of his reason, then he is a bad sport as well.

Posted by Jesse 04/30/2008 at 05:31 PM

What immediately strikes me is the slam results of the three.

Federer: W-W-F-SF
Djokovic: W-F-SF-SF
Nadal: W-F-SF-R16

One early loss at a slam (Nadal at Wimbledon, anyone?) and of them slips significantly. Djokovic has more wiggle room, oddly, because his optionals and Masters are weaker. But I think the race of the top 3 is going to come down to which one blinks at a slam first. And oddly enough, I don't think Djokovic is the one to blink. He's got a more consistent all-around game than the others. He's not as vulnerable to a freak loss on clay as Federer, or on faster courts as Nadal.

Interesting, too, to note which players make up the additional 5 spots late-slam spots: Davydenko (French and US Open), Ferrer (US Open), Gasquet (Wimbledon), and Tsonga (Australia). Which players are notably absent from this list? The much-hyped Andy Murray, and the entire nation of America. The bottom half of the top 10 has, between all five of them, 1 semifinal of a slam.

Posted by Tim 04/30/2008 at 05:31 PM

anyone wonder why the MC crowd was so clearly in Federer's corner during their match? quite odd i would say, you would think it would be at least mixed ... i dont think it would matter if DJoker was Serb or Swiss or Scandinavian, it's just about personality and overall appeal ... even after 5 years at No. 1 Fed still retains huge support with fans, even when he plays Rafa ... only the J Block cheers against TMF!

Posted by FEBravo 04/30/2008 at 05:33 PM

Pete,

Great article, although I think you're too nice to the Djoker, but I guess that's a good thing.

I think part of what's going on is head games, but as you only address in passing, in his own head. By that, I mean that he needs to feel like he has an "excuse" for being clearly outplayed. It feeds and helps his (needed) competitive drive, which got him there in the first place, to believe that he could't actually lose to anyone (even Federer or Nadal) if he were healthy. I don't think he's ready to accept that he could otherwise lose.

Posted by Serpiko 04/30/2008 at 05:34 PM

Some statements given by Swiss were taken out of the contest by the journalists. L.Rubin also has right with her comments.
Djokovic will mature during the time, i am sure in this.

Posted by L.Rubin 04/30/2008 at 05:47 PM

Tim,

Fed is a beloved international sportsman, and I predict that his popularity with fans will continue until the day he retires (deservedly, too). His years on tour are hardly a liability here, as fans tend (not always, mind you) to cheer for the player whose face they recognize, whose years of toil they've witnessed, etc. For a similar case, turn to Agassi. How many people (with the exception of the J-Bloc) rooted for James in his 2006 USO match against the older baldie? Age and experience do wonders with the crowd, and I doubt that even an affable youn'un like Tsonga would inspire a tennis crowd to drop their cries of "Roger! Roger!"

--Liron

Posted by Sam 04/30/2008 at 05:57 PM

"How many people (with the exception of the J-Bloc) rooted for James in his 2006 USO match against the older baldie?"

I did. Also, that should be the 2005 US Open (in 2006 Agassi lost to Benjamin Becker).

Posted by L.Rubin 04/30/2008 at 06:01 PM

Sam,

Yes, the 2005 USO. Duh . .


--Liron

Posted by Sher 04/30/2008 at 06:04 PM

>Sher, I'm afraid I have no great revelations about the weight that Djokovic carries other than what is articulated in the piece - he's an "outsider", with a keen sense of representing his people who are emerging from a difficult period.

I wonder how many insiders there are in tennis? Do guys like Blake every feel at home in Monte Carlo? Do the Europeans ever feel at home in New York? Do they really? What about that poor guy from Japan who still keeps getting his name misspelled? He must feel pretty exotic.

But I can't argue against the difficulty of representing people emerging from a difficult period. He does take the politics of his country extremely seriously and personally, which I think this is one of his characteristics that I find most admirable.

>I suppose having such hands-on parents is a "weight" as well- no matter how much they bring to the table in terms of support and having underwritten his early development.

Someone earlier commented that it must be difficult to have your parents set you up so much and put all this additional (unnecessary) pressure on you.

I'm trying to picture a dinner at the Djokovic's, after he loses. Do they all say, "Don't worry, next time" or do they ignore it like it never happened? How much of the pressure to become the best is external?

(I speculate, it's very different than what someone like Rafa finds at home.)

Anyway, you seem to have found yourself in an enviable position of being accused of hatred after writing an article most would find kind to Djokovic's situation. My sympathy.

Posted by tontonsky 04/30/2008 at 06:06 PM

oh come on arbiter. Lindsay Davenport gets the ugliest pictures. LOL. but there is not much to work with in the first place.

Posted by L.Rubin 04/30/2008 at 06:07 PM

"I'm trying to picture a dinner at the Djokovic's, after he loses. Do they all say, "Don't worry, next time" or do they ignore it like it never happened? How much of the pressure to become the best is external?"

They probably deny him his food, Sher: "No pancakes for you, loser!"

--Liron

Posted by tontonsky 04/30/2008 at 06:12 PM

It is certainly not just an opinion that Fed has 12 grand slams under his belt. It is a fact.
he derserves respect. punto

Posted by observer 04/30/2008 at 06:13 PM

Serpiko

your thinking is interesting. You think that such statements like above or statements as "I was in control of the match" after retiring are ok? Sign of respect for other player?

Posted by ptenisnet 04/30/2008 at 06:14 PM

oh come on arbiter. Lindsay Davenport gets the ugliest pictures. LOL. but there is not much to work with in the first place.


I beg to differ. Elena trumps Lindsay any day in terms ugly pictures.

Posted by Sher 04/30/2008 at 06:15 PM

L.Rubin,

Maybe they stick him into a cupboard until the next time he wins against the top two. I jest.

Posted by Miss Kiss 04/30/2008 at 06:27 PM

"Maybe they stick him into a cupboard until the next time he wins against the top two. I jest."

A dark cupboard under the stairs, where he has to pick spiders off his socks every time he has to put them on. ;)

Posted by Christopher 04/30/2008 at 06:28 PM

"I don't think Djokovic is the one to blink. He's got a more consistent all-around game than the others. He's not as vulnerable to a freak loss on clay as Federer, or on faster courts as Nadal."

I'm not sure by what particular measure is Djokovic's "all-around game" more consistent. In any case, Federer is hardly vulnerable to "freak" losses on clay. Aside from the loss to Volandri as he was ending a relationship with his coach, Federer has been far and away the second most consistent clay court player in the last three years of so.

I do think Djokovic has a great game, but he's pretty much proven that he IS very much "the one to blink" (and, for that matter, to close his eyes completely and go to sleep) under a certain kind of pressure.

Posted by Jackie 04/30/2008 at 06:31 PM

Interesting post, Pete. Will be contemplating it further ...

For now, though, my two cents re: Djokovic:

I understand that Nole is young, immature, under pressure, whatever. But the fact remains that while that may explain his poor attitude/behavior, it doesn't excuse it. You don't have to be 30 to understand that retiring under questionable circumstances won't be well-received and isn't particularly fair to your opponents. You don't have to be a seasoned veteran to be cognizant of the fact that, as a professional athlete, you are expected to show up and play. As for pressure, to quote Billie Jean King (I know, it's hackneyed) - pressure is a privilege. If you can't handle the pressures of being at the top of your sport, then you certainly can't proclaim to be the heir to the #1 throne. Moreover, while Nole may be dealing with undue pressure from his family or his country, it's a bit unreasonable (and unjust) to assert that this pressure is any more intense than that facing many of the other top players. Think Murray, Roddick, Rafa, FED. (Incidentally, doesn't this prove how remarkable Fed is, to have defended his position year after year convincingly, and with such grace? To constantly contend with the "monster" he's created without complaint?) And to those who think Nole's just following his parents, I say the man is an adult and has been immersed in the tennis world for years. He's the one who should be calling the shots, not his parents. And if he's letting them, then not only is he spineless (too harsh but can't think of an alternative) but he's also foolish. Frankly, I don't believe that's the issue (i.e., that he's under their spell) - I'm inclined to think it's more a matter of the 'rents continuing to pat him on the back as opposed to making efforts to discipline him ("You're the best, son, no matter what you do or what anyone says!").

I don't know. I'm a sympathetic person, and I don't care to rush to judgment regarding anyone, including Nole ... but I've been given enough evidence to determine that he doesn't deserve to be given the benefit of the doubt any longer. Fed fan or not, one can plainly see that while Nole may be in the same league as far as ability, he certainly isn't in terms of sportsmanship.

Again, just my opinion.

Posted by Tari 04/30/2008 at 06:32 PM

Oh...Christopher. Well said. I thank you. :)

Posted by rickjames 04/30/2008 at 06:33 PM

Sher,
in 2006 when Mauresmo and her countrymen played at the Sony E in Miami;as soon as they got on court;the public started booing them and saying stuff like"France is weak and should have gone to war with us".
J-Bloc yelled curse words at Fabrice Santoro last year during their match at the USO.Santoro talked about it in an interview right after the match;he said that was the worse taunting he's ever heard;even worse than Davis Cup and he said that he asked Blake to call his goons off to no avail [].He also said that a lot of European players still in the locker room got word of it and have a different view of Blake and his bunch of drunks cheering for him.The same James Blake who wants people to see him as a nice guy can't hold off a bunch of drunk abonoxious hooligans!Yes good reason why Roger;Rafael;Justine,Amelie amongst the hundred'th of European players cannot stand playing in the States.Say what you want about being bood at Roland Garros for example;hey ask Mauresmo,Grosjean;Gasquet who will be booed there in May most likely for poor playing but like it or not;this behavior doesn't take place anywhere in Europe unless you're in Italy and you get racist calls there!

Posted by tontonsky 04/30/2008 at 06:34 PM

Yes thanks Christopher. You are very sound in your thinking at least.

Posted by ND 04/30/2008 at 06:37 PM

Slightly off topic. Has anyone asked TMF and the Djokovics to comment about the "keep quiet"? Strangely, no one brought it up in the post match presser...is there some journalist-player etiquette that I'm not aware of?

Posted by Moderator 04/30/2008 at 06:38 PM

rickjames: welcome. Please take a look at the site rules on profane language.

Also a reminder to all posters (not rickjames, in this case) to bear in mind the site rules on not baiting or berating other posters.

Posted by tontonsky 04/30/2008 at 06:38 PM

sher what is really amazing is that anyone can get drunk on american beer.

Posted by tontonsky 04/30/2008 at 06:40 PM

to be fair moderator he was quoting the J block

Posted by Eric 04/30/2008 at 06:41 PM

I personally like that picture of Novak. That furry belly shot...

Posted by TennisEsq 04/30/2008 at 06:45 PM

English isn't Novak's first language, so I tend to be more forgiving regarding his comments. Pete pointed out that Novak may have an "insufficient command of nuanced language. What can you expect, the Grand Slam tongues are not his own." Plus, soundbites taken out of context can have an entirely different meaning from the one the speaker intended.

Posted by tontonsky 04/30/2008 at 06:46 PM

Isn't he just making that face to try and breathe? I hear he has some problems in that department.

Posted by tontonsky 04/30/2008 at 06:49 PM

I am sorry TennisEsq but English is not Nadals first language either and he never comes across as an arrogant oaf.
In fact considering how poorly the english speaking world does in tennis we mainly deal with non native speakers in tennis,Fed included. No-one sounds as arrogant and less respectful of others than the Djoker.

Posted by alexjjj 04/30/2008 at 06:50 PM

I don't think the comparison between Connors and Djoko works.
The dominant trait in Djoko's character is that he wants to please everyone and be appreciated and likeable by all people.

Connors on the other hand yes, he had a chip on his shoulder but he only cared about few people and in public the only appreciation he enjoyed was about his fighting spirit and nothing else.

That makes a vast difference to the basic traits of their personality.

Of course Connors was a bigger jerk but Djoko has something I can only describe as almost sleazy which is a bit of a turn off to me. He's young though, hopefully he'll grow out of it.

Also, those "I'll be number 1" are just bravado, I don't mind them. Talking about words, his performance on Leno was more revealing, yes he was witty, but again it's almost painful to see how hard he tries.

Just a few thoughts from a lurker... (see, I'm starting to refer to myself in the third person too !)

Posted by ND 04/30/2008 at 06:54 PM

"English isn't Novak's first language, so I tend to be more forgiving regarding his comments."

Hmm...I've always wondered if the same is true of the Fed, e.g., "I always like playing against Andy, and not because I win all the time" (not verbatim). I don't think a native speaker of the language would say something like that, because it might be construed as arrogance. TMF seems to realize that he's made a gaffe when everyone starts laughing and he covers it up by joining in. Similary with the "piece of cake" comment at the US open...in the post match presser he said that he just repeated it because the interviewer thought it was funny.

I guess the point is that I agree with giving Djokovic (and Fed) the benefit of the doubt.

Posted by tontonsky 04/30/2008 at 06:55 PM

Yay Jackie. You put it all very well indeed. Proud of you for putting your 2 cents in.

Posted by Sherlock 04/30/2008 at 06:57 PM

Excellent post, Jackie. Fair and balanced.

Don't ever hesitate again. :)

Posted by TennisEsq 04/30/2008 at 07:02 PM

tontonsky, Rafa tends to use the same basic phrases over and over again or limit his responses to one word answers. He isn't exactly a chatter box. It might also have something to do with Nole's delivery, the way he says things. If you listen to Roger, some of his comments are snarky and arrogant too, BUT the way he says it is so genteel and innocent, you just can't be mad at him. Like his "Be Quiet" comment. It sounded bratty and polite all at the same time. Nole doesn't have the same demeanor. That's what makes it interesting. I enjoy the contrast in personality between the top 3.

Posted by Jackie 04/30/2008 at 07:04 PM

Thanks (again), tontonsky and Luci ... er, Sherlock. :)

Posted by Voks 04/30/2008 at 07:06 PM

excellent piece Pete,

It encapsulates the complexities of Djokovic to great extent, further than it comes to my mind actually. I just saw the bbc clip that seems to have been shot just after MC semis, so I know what you mean by Novak being more astute in the Pr department.

I don't want to rant much, Pete has masterfully put Djokovic Serbian background particle into the puzzle, even more than average zoon-politicon on these boards might be able to comprehend. And to add that if someone thinks that Djokovic is turning into nasty Joker to Fed The Bet in the tennis perception of the world, remember Lendl's roots and compare them to Novaks. He has 'higher' goals that - if the burden of pressure becomes too great - might be the end of him.

But this is all a multy-sided view of ones character, its never enough to see the entire picture. For example, if this health condition about immune system going haywire is correct, and it sounds very plausable to me, all these sportsmanship accusations that I hear usually (depending on the entire content of the post) represent opponent's pundits knee-jerk reactions to their favorite not being put in a 'beat-down' opportunity.

Im not going into details, cause its been beaten to death Im sure, but I'll say that saying 'hes young and he'll learn...' and all with 'proper' ring-tone in the back is BS.

After all, its a mountain to carry.

Posted by tontonsky 04/30/2008 at 07:17 PM

Sorry t-esq
I just cannot agree. Nadal is always saying that although he is tough to be on clay he believes that Fed is still the best in the world overall. Djoker makes it perfectly clear that he believes he already is better than both Rafa and Fed.
Rude and delusional.
Anyway I have had enough of this circular argument. Next thing i will have to put up with Serpiko again

Posted by mariej... vamos king of clay ! 04/30/2008 at 07:18 PM

nole has an impersonator ??? this board is too fun ;)

Posted by tontonsky 04/30/2008 at 07:18 PM

oops ... tought to BEAT on clay.

Posted by zolarafa 04/30/2008 at 07:31 PM

well, I want to remain silent, but some comments are really going too far.

I think there is one thing to say that Djoko feels an outsider ( I agree) and wants to prove himself ( I agree again) and another thing to excuse what he does on the basis of his ethnicity. That's an insult to other Serbs that do not behave like him. What about Ana Ivanovic? Tipsarevic? what about Croats? Ljubicic? Ancic?

Djoko is one of a kind with his own attributes. Judge him as his own individual self please!

He is a young boy who wnats to be liked. Obviously his parents have a different view on life and manners, so they are no help.All he needs is a good person to sit down and talk with him and tell him some things are not allright to do or say. Also some organization to give a vacation ticket to Papa and Mama Djoko for a remote place ( the moon if possible), so that this kid can get some new perspective.

He has the talent, he has the game, he just needs to learn to channel his energy to tennis.

1 2 3 4      >>

We are no longer accepting comments for this entry.

<<   Your Call May 1 Your Call April 30  >>




Wild Women of the U.S. Open
Wild Men of the U.S. Open
Roddick's Imperfect World
"It's Kind of a Dance"
Nadal's Kneeds
The Racquet Scientist: Canadian Tennis
The Long and Short of It
This blog has 3693 entries and 1646147 comments.
More
More Video
Daily Spin