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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.

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Posted by ognost 04/30/2008 at 10:29 PM

Andrea Jaeger got to a Grand Slam final as a 15-year-old

but never won a Slam

but count now

the thousands of warm bodies she has helped with her modest income.

Voks: please give that clue to Novak.

Posted by marron 04/30/2008 at 10:30 PM

Someone farther upthread mentioned the AO 2006 women's final and Henin's retirement, and comparing it to Djokovic's actions. I thought this was a valid point, and I've been thinking about it for a while. Did Pete write that particular post about Henin - the one that ripped her for doing much the same thing as what happened Saturday? Is this different, other than the fact it was not a slam, and not a final? How does Nole get a pass when Henin didn't? I was also struck by some of her words in the interview, 'worried for myself...' didn't Novak say pretty much the same thing? I don't understand this, really.

Posted by Russ 04/30/2008 at 10:31 PM

Tari, I believe it was I who uttered the first blasphemous remark against the Goddess Higpockets. I was looking back to see exactly what I said that was rude. However, it's been "moderated", I believe.

I have absolutely nothing against her, but if she's going to post art in a public forum, it's fair game to criticize it (the art, NOT the person). To me, it was gloating, and the fact that it rhymed didn't make it any less so. I merely stated that's how I felt, and see nothing wrong in that. Again, no personal attack meant on the writer... just the art.

Posted by tontonsky 04/30/2008 at 10:32 PM

Can someone please explain what Koen means?? surrender, murder??
ok my baby has arrived, i have better things to do than hear these tired arguments.
12 grand slams....

Posted by Tari 04/30/2008 at 10:37 PM

Russ: That is awfully sweet to come forward like that, but it wasn't your post. I remember yours. And the other comment is gone as well, but I really wasn't referring to yours, OK? :)
I didn't think yours was offensive. Really.

Posted by koen 04/30/2008 at 10:39 PM

It means, Nole has retired, Fed win, what else do you want?
Torture? It is sport, not war.

Posted by Sher 04/30/2008 at 10:45 PM


how about integrity?

Posted by koen 04/30/2008 at 10:50 PM

integrity according who?

Posted by jhurwi 04/30/2008 at 10:50 PM

Whitney: re Djokovic doing impersonations of players he plays against: I noticed that whereas he did both Nadal and Sharapova at the U.S. Open, he imitated only Sharapova at the Australian Open and on the late-night TV show (Letterman?)
Personally, I find his Nadal impersonation very funny, particularly the bit with the pants--I laughed at it hysterically when it first appeared online at the Wimbledon website (he only did his impersonations on the practice court there). However,I can see that Nadal might not be amused at seeing it on prime time.
I wonder if that's why Djokovic didn't repeat it at the AO and on the TV show? or is it just that men imitating women is a universal staple of humor, and would be funny even to an audience like Letterman's that wouldn't recognize the personal tics of Nadal, Sharapova, or any other tennis player?
I assume that the impersonations that are done at the player parties (where Bjorkman acknowledges that Djokovic is threatening his reputation as the #1 impersonator) include imprssions of active players, including some that the impersonator plays against. But that's all in the family and doesn't make it onto TV.

Posted by Whitney 04/30/2008 at 10:57 PM

That's interesting.. the late night show you are talking about is Jay Leno - he was on right before Indian Wells. I assumed they showed the Sharapova clip since most of the US audience, even the ones who did not watch tennis, know who she is. I remember Fed saying sometime, somewhere, in some press conference that some of the players "weren't too happy about it" when a reporter asked him if he had seen the impressions. But you do have a point about the difference in a player party and on national tv where everyone can see it. It probably gets old as well - reporters asking players about these impressions Djoko does of them. Anyway, I think Novak said on Leno that impressions is not what he wants to be known for, he wants to be known for playing tennis.

Posted by avid sports fan 04/30/2008 at 11:01 PM

"Irving, Just like Nadal wears his muscle shirts to flex his biceps and acts like he's Ali."

I think that best describes Tsonga :-D

Posted by avid sports fan 04/30/2008 at 11:07 PM

"Djokovic saying that none of the players he played in MC before Fed were much of a challenge"

That was exactly what I felt when I read that in his presser. That is not a good thing to say about any player no matter their rank.

Posted by sam hill 04/30/2008 at 11:07 PM

I'm a lurker, but I guess no longer. My opinion: all the cluck-clucking over Djokovic's habit of retiring is just too much.

The prevailing sentiment seems to be that he feels too much pressure, he is afraid of losing to a rival, quits when he's getting his butt kicked, and so on.

2008 Monte Carlo SF Federer 3-6 2-3 RET
2008 DC RUS vs SRB Davydenko 6-4 6-3 4-6 RET
2007 Wimbledon SF Nadal 6-3 1-6 1-4 RET
2006 Umag F Wawrinka 6-6(1) RET
2006 Roland Garros QF Nadal 4-6 4-6 RET
2005 Roland Garros R64 Coria 4-6 2-6 2-3 RET

He was LEADING Davydenko in the most recent retirement. And that was a deciding Davis Cup match, for a highly patriotic person! He was neither getting his butt kicked, nor is Davydenko some sort of rival, as they'd never played before.

He was clearly unfit in the Wimbledon semifinal, due to the crazy effects of the weather etc. on the schedule of play. He was TIED with Wawrinka in Umag.

And in the RG matches, he was not in the position to feel any pressure, as a young player against Nadal and Coria, of all people.

Now, I'm not totally defending the retirements. I'm not sure what's going on, and neither is anyone else except Novak. But I think there is ample evidence that he has some physical issues that are real, and that he isn't just quitting when he starts losing. He's lost a lot of matches without retiring. I don't think he's having some weird parentally induced freak-out.

It does remind me of Henin's retirement, which also wasn't necessarily "attractive," but it was something she felt she must do for herself. Both Henin and Djokovic remind me of each other, in some ways. Obviously not their personalities, or their family ties, but something about the earnestness they bring to the fact that tennis is SO important, and SO structured -- and the fact that they have had some fairly significant health issues.

I guess I feel this more acutely, because as a player, I have played through all sorts of pain -- Just this past year, after a surprise joint replacement among other health issues, I've come to realize that PAIN is your body telling you to watch out, not an opportunity to prove how awesome you are by playing through it. You have to weigh that against respecting your opponent.

Which brings me back to Henin and Djokovic: they definitely aren't afraid to show that they respect themselves more than they do their opponents. And that is a completely huge tangent that I won't get into right now.

As for the Aussies "if you're playing, you're fit" -- well, that was back in the heyday of idiotic sports medicine, too. Some of the stories from the NHL in those days are just horrifying. Actually, today they are too ... but they are much more careful about head injuries now (NFL, too).

Posted by Sher 04/30/2008 at 11:08 PM


integrity according to me. you asked what I want: how about integrity?

Posted by ognost 04/30/2008 at 11:10 PM

What's wrong with impersonations?

See YouTube. Djokovic did Sharapova, Roddick, Nadal, Federer, and perhaps 5 more players.

Locker room is the best informal place for it to emphasize it's all for fun

not on centercourt before big audience

'fun' not 'ridicule'

Posted by ognost 04/30/2008 at 11:18 PM

After Henin quit,

she got her well-deserved opprobrium from Pete Bodo:

"the little backhand that quit."

With Novak's retirement, what should his new moniker be?

Posted by Sher 04/30/2008 at 11:23 PM

Tari, as far as I can tell, he not only perfected but seems to have "sprung" on tour with the "art", heh. I don't have any recollection of him ever being out of line in his comments about another player way before he was at the top.

Posted by highpockets aka "Madame 'Pockets" 05/01/2008 at 12:04 AM

First of all, regarding my Sunday poem ... I realize that some found it inappropriate, silly and too "go-Rafa-go-ish." Fair enough. I wasn't sure whether to post it myself ... but I wasn't gloating and I won't apologize for being proud of my favorite player's historic victory in Monte Carlo.

As for my "something smelly" (or "fishy" ... whatever) comment about Djoko's withdrawal, I just meant it to say that the whole withdrawal thing just didn't ring true for me.

Voks, I guess you didn't appreciate the way I expressed myself, but there it is.

(Thank you, Tari and Zola, for defending me.)

Posted by ™shot 05/01/2008 at 12:09 AM

"The Djoker that djumped ship" works for me.

Posted by Backhand blaster 05/01/2008 at 12:13 AM

Hey all. That video of Federer was priceless. I missed that on TV. I have been missing a lot on the tv, like the ball. I can't see the darned thing when the ATP is on clay. Takes a lot of fun out of watching the game.
No one knows what is going on with Djokovic's body, but I think there is a bit of disregard for the people in attendance when he doesn't complete his matches.

Posted by ™shot 05/01/2008 at 12:16 AM

I'd have more empathy for the guy if he and family didn't add insult to injury after he beat mono-Fed (who incidentally, FINISHED THE MATCH) at the AO. What goes around comes around. If he & co want to gloat in victory (thumbs down, "will never lose to Fed again", "Fed's on his way down," etc), fine; he just shouldn't expect any pity when he's getting outplayed so soundly he has a hard time breathing.

I'll admit I'm smug about the retirement, I called it in the aftermath of his AO win, when I went under the moniker, Supersnark. Glad to say, I told you so.

Posted by Fran 05/01/2008 at 12:18 AM

I spent some time travelling in Yugoslavis in 1970s.I lived in small villages in Serbia. Djokovic,in my perception, is typical of the young men.They were very aggressive and liked to talk themselves up (think highly of themselves).Even in their body language,they walked with a kind of strut.Some of Djokovics behaviour could be cultural.It seems Serbians are taught to value taking care of themselves,getting ahead in the world, and being competative.I could be wrong about this.
Aside from that I think Djokovic needs to finish a match that only has a few games to play even if he moves more slowly and misses some shots,in order to be honorable.When we are on the job we cant just leave immediately sometimes.We tough it out because others are relying on us,even if only for a short while.When people have paid a lot of money to watch a match I feel the players do owe them something,(and Ive never actually been to a live match with top level pros).
The double standard bothers me regarding Djokovic.How come he is supposedly mentally tough,but he has psychosomatic illnesses.You cant have it both ways.
If he didnt already have a reputation of overly using medical time outs,I think he might be more trustworthy,but that's not the case.To coin a Roger phrase,he was still running like a rabbit.
I think it would be wonderful if another player he looks up to(if there is one) or a coach took him aside and explained a few things to him.He seems to lack the usual understanding of others and self restraint that many of the other young male tennis players have.

Posted by Fran 05/01/2008 at 12:20 AM

Sorry;should read Yugoslavia.

Posted by 2h4h 05/01/2008 at 12:20 AM

For what it is worth, here is Pete's post after Justine Henin retired in the AO 2006 final against Amelie Mauresmo.


Posted 01/28/2006 @ 9 :48 AM

Justine Henin-Hardenne committed the most significant and flagrant act of poor sportsmanship I’ve witnessed in nearly 30 years of covering pro tennis today. I urge you to read the interview transcripts when they’re posted on the Australian Open website (I think Henin-Hardenne’s is up already) and evaluate for yourself.

All I can make of any of it, here in Melbourne, is that Justine had a bellyache, and she was being badly outplayed by an Amelie Mauresmo who was in full control of her game and emotions. So Justine decided to quit, because . . . well, because it's all about Justine, all the time.

It was a disgrace.

Justine’s interview transcript is very telling, because there’s not even a smidgen of volunteered sympathy for Mauresmo,not an ounce of compassion for the way she was robbed of the finest moment of her career - watching her match point called as she earned the first Grand Slam title. In a post a long time ago, I called H-H a “demented dwarf”; in fact, this week, a comment poster somewhere along the way chided me for having done that. I had second thoughts for a moment. Adios, second thoughts.

How’s this for a money quote from Henin-Hardenne. When asked how she would answer those who would say she should have finished the match, she replied:

I mean, everyone has the right to think that. But it’s my health. I just have to think about myself right now because it’s only me on the court. It’s me that is feeling the bad way I was feeling. I don’t care what these people would say.

There you have it. I have to think about myself right now . . .

You know, it’d be one thing if Justine had broken a leg, or even if she were so ill she fainted, or was forced to vomit (a la Pete Sampras, or Andy Murray) on court. She never even got to that that point. When I ran into Patrick McEnroe, just moments after H-H quit, he said: “She just pulled a Roberto Duran. She got sick of getting her butt kicked and said, ‘No more.'”

There’s no way around this, folks: H-H was well enough to start the match, well enough to see if she could turn the tide in the second set after being blitzed in the first, well enough to see if Mauresmo would show signs of losing her resolve, well enough to play a great 33-stroke rally before calling for the trainer shortly before she cried, "No mas!"

However, she apparently was not well enough to accept the inevitable, and allow Mauresmo the full glory and all the small satisfactions that rain down on you when you’re standing at the net, waiting to shake hands, with 15,000 people giving you a standing ovation for playing one of the most artful, purposeful, accomplished finals in recent history.

Not well enough for that . . . and I guess she was just barely, marginally, on-the-cusply well enough to realize that the last thing she wanted to do was lose a Grand Slam final to Amelie Maueresmo 6-1, 6-1.

Want more self-absorbed garbage from Justine? Here:

I just really tried to stay in the match, but there was no chance for me. If I would have keep playing and continue, maybe I would injure something else, so that was the best decision, even if it was very, very, very hard for me.

Yeah. Very, very, very hard for . . .me.

Kind of says it all, doesn't it?

What about the 15,000 fans and world-wide tennis audience? What about Amelie Mauresmo? What about the credibility of the game (just what tennis needs, a player who quits in the middle of a Grand Slam final because her stomach hurts!) – and the credibility of the women's game? Because if you’ve been reading the newspapers down here, you know that a lot of folks have been looking at the scores and match durations in the two singles draws and saying, “No way the women deserve equal money!” Boy, are they going to have a field day with this!

Aaaaarrrraaggghhhh! That’s all I can say.

And in a narrow way for me, the worst thing about it is that I should be writing about how gracefully and artfully Mauresmo got the Grand Slam monkey off her back. How well she acquitted herself in a final against one of the toughest competitors (ha-ha-ha!) in the game. How much Mauresmo enjoyed that amazing moment when she finally crossed the clearly defined finish line of match point, in her race to be a fully realized Grand Slam champ.

For that, I deeply resent Henin-Hardenne.

If you check the transcript of Mauresmo’s interview, you’ll see that someone asked her a long question having to do with the way she walked over and sat down with Justine right after the match, to talk. That was Mary Carillo, and the point she was making underscores a lot of what I’ve said here. Amelie didn’t entirely get Mary’s point, but it’s worth reading that exchange, because Mary was saying that Amelie has character and compassion, Justine has nothing but self-absorption.

I asked Henin-Hardenne, near the end of the presser, if she felt sorry that Amelie didn’t get to experience the moment of winning a championship at all. Her reply?

First feeling sorry for myself, and then I can feel sorry for her. Yeah, it’s great when you win a Grand Slam after a big fight, for sure, after a normal match. But I’m sure she enjoys this moment, and she deserve that.

How gracious of you, Justine! Hollower words were never spoken.

I believe the ITF and/or WTA should levy an enormous fine against Justine (don’t hold your breath) and issue a general apology to the international public for putting on an event that ended this way. Sure, all the blame should be laid on Justine, but what’s that going to accomplish?

Like she said, she doesn’t care what the people think.


Posted by Kath 05/01/2008 at 12:31 AM

Thanks for posting that JH peice.
Different level tournament, different round, but same principle.
And the pressers that Justine and Djoko gave are so similiar!

Posted by ognost 05/01/2008 at 12:46 AM


Is that the reason why Pierre Yves Hardenne divorced her?

Posted by ognost 05/01/2008 at 12:50 AM

"demented dwarf" from Peter Bodo

no wonder she's running into a streak of badluck.

Posted by cris 05/01/2008 at 12:53 AM

wow.. you guys sure have a whole lot to say.

back to Djokovic. nobody really knows the real deal with him that time or what his motives were (if there ever was one). as said by a lot of you here, it was an immature decision and it certainly didn't look like he'd collapse or something if he did play through it.

the thing is, is was a highly anticipated match up and his decision to retire with unclear and certainly not obvious reasons was very disappointing. very not likely of a top 3 player.

Posted by ognost 05/01/2008 at 12:57 AM

Just-I-me-myself Henin.

Posted by yyyy guy 05/01/2008 at 01:10 AM

As others have noted, Djoko quitting shows a lack of respect for the opponent and for the fans. But, most importantly, it shows a lack of respect for the game. It's why we're all riled up, why there are so many opinions, and why this thread is so long. The competitive heart of the game is being questioned. That's why it is such a big deal, why we actually DO "really give a dang what happens once the first ball is put into play". Quitting so you don't get beat is only one small step removed from quitting because you've got a bet placed. It strikes at the very integrity of the game.

So, unless this possible future #1 clues in, we may remember this as the moment when Djoko Djumped the Shark.

Posted by Anna 05/01/2008 at 01:54 AM

Just about my favourite elements of sport are courage, respect, and sportsmanship.
As these were lacking in this situation, it leaves a bad taste in my mouth.
But I know this isn't a perfect world full of perfect people.
And while it does diminish my respect for Novak, it has the upside of making me appreciate and cherish even more the courgage, respect, and sportmanship displayed so often by people like Federer, Nadal, Blake.

Posted by Aussie Ange (Princess of Darkness) 05/01/2008 at 01:55 AM

I don't have a problem with Novak retiring (if he wants to be a wuss let him). I find what he said in the interview afterwards disrespectful to his fellow players the problem. Novak will mature in time maybe not until he is 23 and he can't help how his parents act. Maybe Novak's coach needs to speak to his parents or maybe Lubjic (sp!) who he is meant to have a close friendship with. I also feel a little bit sorry for his siblings. Generally I like his game and he does try to hard but there is nothing wrong with that. Everybody wants to be liked. He will learn how to handle the media. Does the ATP or WTA have media training courses for all up coming youngster.

It's kind of like Hingis when she said and did things when she was younger yet she grew out of it and become a much nicer and wiser person. I always loved her pressies they were always interesting.

Posted by Aussie Ange (Princess of Darkness) 05/01/2008 at 02:17 AM

Wow 2h4h Samantha Elin better not come on this thread as you will get your arse kicked. I said something about Henin yesterday not being particularly nice and I got a email full. Now that I know how you really feel.

Posted by avid sports fan 05/01/2008 at 02:50 AM

Aussie Ange,

You just took the words right out of my mouth lol (pls do not let Samantha Elin see 2h 4h post) But I have a feeling it may be too late.

Posted by drop(per) 05/01/2008 at 03:11 AM

Question to Pete:

What's going on with Venus Williams? At first it seemed as though she was still suffering from the weird anemia/energy zapping/dizzy spells that afflicted her beginning at the French and then through the summer and which have apparently followed her to this year (she's complained of 'being a step slow' in more than one '08 post-match interview).

Now come comments from William J. Kellogg that she'll be missing the French, even though she's supposedly slated to come back by Rome. The excerpt, from this article, reads: But Venus Williams has become something of a figure of mystery.

“She is not going to be at Roland Garros,” Kellogg said in a reference to the French Open, scheduled to begin May 25. “She is out of tennis. There appears to be some kind of personal issues.”

She played lights out at Wimbledon and had she a bit extra juice would have taken the US Open. Even though she wasn't at full strength at the Australian she was very capable of winning the match against Ivanovic (though she clearly matches up well with her). All signs point to her being on the up and up but this mystery ailment seems to continue to fell her (though the Australian was probably more due to her leg issues) .Any idea of the seriousness of this or if she really has gone back to the practice court? It may be unrelated but at Charleston Richard Williams made comments to Pam Shriver that even though Serena wasn't injured there was something else serious that was troubling her. Could it be Venus? I'll also note that she looked much more slender in Key Biscayne than she did in January. And, also possibly unrelated, all news of her engagement seemed to be a momentary flash in the pan.

Please tell us what you know. And, btw, I don't post often but do I love and greatly appreciate your world you've created for the Tribe. Drop(per) out.

Posted by Serpiko 05/01/2008 at 05:22 AM

I just woke up, the discussion is really hot here.
One thing about Novak's parents: 99% of the guys here made an impression by watching TV and reading some statements in the press. One thing I can guarantee you, THEY ARE NOT PRESSING NOVAK IN ANY WAY. They are a great family, parents are doing their job in the best possible. way. They are not Dokic's, Capriati's etc... You have no clue about them and you write that they are pressing Novak etc...rubbish, they are a great , harmonic family. If you dont like the way they behave than it is your problem. THe only difference between them and the others is that they are showing lots, lots of emotions, temparement. Federer's reaction "be quite" is another proof how vulnerable and small (i repeat this) he is at the moment. And he is going down babe...
Djokovic's attitude: He has the attitude of the champion. Numerious times he has said how Fed and Rafa are fantastic players, how much he can learn by watching them and losing vs. them..WHat else do you want from him??? To make a bow each time he is playing?? Common, give him a break.
Federer arrogance: Voks mada an absolutely phenomenal observation earlier. Taking into account his sponsors etc... he is "expected" to be damn arrogant and this is normal for everybody. Saying this, he has the credit to critize other players (Murray, Gasque, Novak).... and when he says people take it as a normal. Federer is the guy who won his first grand slame at the age of 22 and at the age of 20 he was hitting girls and boys with tennis balls on the court, playing futures and challengers.. SOme, like Djokovic were winning at the age of 20 Grand Slams and Masters... Think about it.

Posted by ognost 05/01/2008 at 05:36 AM

Federer has every right to say "shut up!" to anyone

distracting him while he's playing

.. anyone including the Pope.

Instead, Federer says the gentler, nicer "be quiet, ok?"

what is so special about Novak's parents?

Posted by Serpiko 05/01/2008 at 05:58 AM

That is the point, there is absolutely nothing special about them and you guys write so much about them that it becomes worrying.. They normal parents, bit emotional, who are supporting like hell their son. No pressure on him, no request... they just tell him play your tennis and one day you will be number one since you have the quality for that.
End of story. It is very simple story about his parents.

Posted by Serpiko 05/01/2008 at 06:04 AM

at Fran
Fran, if I pay 300 euros for the ticket and if the player does not feel healthy to play vs. number one... player should forget about my 300 euros and think about his life and career since he "invested" all his life in tennis while I just bought a ticket for 300 euros.
BY this, I am not justifying Novak for retiring. In fact, he did not look that bad and he should have stayed on the court and finish the match.
As your observation of Yugoslavia. Can you tell me please which parts did you visit? THanks.

Posted by fifteenlove 05/01/2008 at 06:19 AM

djokovic multiple retiring = not the attitude of a champion.

neither are taking dubious injury breaks, bouncing the ball a gazillion times especially on crucial moments, and OH, did we forget to mention, RETIRING ON A "SORE THROAT"?

mentioning how fed and nadal are great "numerous" times does not equate to a good champion's attitude - there should be no credit given to someone acknowledging these facts, simply because of the nature of their truth.

"THe only difference between them and the others is that they are showing lots, lots of emotions, temparement."

And it is precisely these emotions and temperament that make them so odiously repugnant to many. Yes, it is our problem that we can't stand them, and it is because it's our problem which is why we repeatedly criticise them. Don't like our criticism? i'm afraid that's your problem. :)

Posted by Serpiko 05/01/2008 at 06:35 AM

I have no problem with your critics, it is a free World.Do whatever you want. I just think we should not spend our time here talkng about parents...

Posted by fifteenlove 05/01/2008 at 06:47 AM

fair enough. :)

Posted by Vydianathan 05/01/2008 at 06:59 AM

Watching MC, I noticed what may work to Fed's advantage this season.

The one thing that Djoker will bring to Fed's game will be 'need to take control' of points - too often Fed relaxes when he is in the lead believing that his defensive skills will get him to win the point.

With Nadal, Fed needs to reduce his UE count. That and the sporadic parts of brilliance that he showed getting to 4-0 in the 2nd set. This will help him stay close to Nadal and scrap out matches; cannot see him destroy Rafa in a best of 5 shootout in clay.

Posted by renee0108 05/01/2008 at 07:06 AM

Kinda off-topic but this is a must-see video for fed fans: Roger calling himself idiot! Love his accent! lol

Posted by embug 05/01/2008 at 07:08 AM

I used to think Henin was deserving of titles. But since her antics at the AO final against Mauresmo, her true character -- I, Me, Mine -- flattened her in my eyes. I used to think Nole had an awesome forehand and couldn't wait to show friends clips of his cross-court winners. No more... Whatever his reasons for being immature, he has shown the world poor choices over and over. After the change over at MC semifinal, he served a perfect game. "Punk" is the term I hear in my head when imagining him on court, off court, anywhere. He would add to the game, if he lifted himself out of his self-important cloud and became willing to learn from fellow players and history. He, I'm afraid, is taken with himself to the extent that he somehow reveals the garbage self image he harbors deep within. In his case his vainglorious nature and his loathing for mistakes combine simultaneously to broadcast a most mixed up pro player. An extremely excellent-playing pro player.

Posted by Madrilena 05/01/2008 at 07:45 AM

This ist another must-see video, this time for Djoko-fans...

Posted by Serpiko 05/01/2008 at 07:51 AM

hahahah thanks for the video, I have seen 1000 times and it is always fun to watch.
Attitude you see here with Djokovic will make him the nubmer one soon and this attitude and belief will bring him lots, lots of titles. I love him for that.
Rafa was fantastic is him comment as well. Very cool and stylish.
He is very nice bloke.

Posted by Tari 05/01/2008 at 08:01 AM

"I have seen 1000 times and it is always fun to watch.
Attitude you see here with Djokovic will make him the nubmer one soon and this attitude and belief will bring him lots, lots of titles. I love him for that."

OK. I think it is finally registering with me now. It only took a day of comments, coffee this morning and these words.

Just. Wow.

Posted by Madrilena 05/01/2008 at 08:10 AM


I was sure, Djoko-fans would like it. But honestly I doubt that the attitude, Djoko shows here, is the key for becoming no. 1. For me his attitude reveals a lack of sense for the things how they are. On the other hand the sense for reality may have been a key for Federer to win 12 GS (... never underestimate the guy on the other side of the net...).

Posted by Madrilena 05/01/2008 at 08:12 AM

And no, I definitly don't think that it's stylish.

Posted by Christopher 05/01/2008 at 08:15 AM

Rafa's reaction to Djoko's comment there is really priceless!

Posted by 05/01/2008 at 08:19 AM

I think Djoko lives in a bubble. Sometimes he makes delusional statements and sometimes he thinks he can do no wrong. And when you look at his parents it's hardly surprising. I don't think it's a maturity issue that will get better as he ages. I think it's his personality.

Posted by ognost 05/01/2008 at 08:32 AM

With Novak, it's no longer about healthy self-belief and self-confidence with a dose of realism.

Movak has pushed it to the extreme.

The Pathology. Narcissism --- he is in love with himself far too much.

Posted by Monica 05/01/2008 at 08:38 AM

As someone who wrongs others and then turns around and plays the victim, Djokovic couldn't be a better amabassador for Serbia.

Posted by Monica 05/01/2008 at 08:38 AM

As someone who wrongs others and then turns around and plays the victim, Djokovic couldn't be a better ambassador for Serbia.

Posted by ognost Ph.D 05/01/2008 at 08:48 AM

do you think the splintering of former Yugoslavia into smaller states

the untold chaos and violence that followed, the deep-seated ethnic hatred seething underneath the surface like magma searching for an outlet

do you think this context has substantially shaped the individual psychology of the players coming from this region?

who are 'compulsive' achievers trying to conceal the suffering and trauma that they personally experienced?

Posted by koen 05/01/2008 at 08:53 AM

integrity according to me. you asked what I want: how about integrity?

Are you his mother or sister or maybe a best friend? Even then it's his choice, because he felt bad, not anybody else and he isn't gladiator !?

NO, he doesn't know you so what integrity according to you?

Posted by Evie 05/01/2008 at 08:54 AM

That was a funny clip. Precious. I liked Brad Gilbert too. Well it shows that Novak is in the habit of giving credit to himself and not others and probably really thinks nobody should beat him easily. He thinks he is a giant. Well that is too bad, he should learn to really compete (be open to win or lose and having opponents figure his game) and to credit other people.

Posted by tontonsky 05/01/2008 at 08:58 AM

way to go Monica.
Serpiko what medication are you on. You have two world renowned commentators basically laughing at the arrogance and stupidity of dorkypits and you seem to think he is a brilliant ambassador.
I love Nadal.. he is so "yeh whatever"

Posted by Andrew 05/01/2008 at 08:59 AM

ognost:, motes, beams...

Posted by ognost 05/01/2008 at 09:02 AM

Is Novak the dorkypits?

What's that?

Are you using the slang for genitalia here?

Posted by koen 05/01/2008 at 09:10 AM

Monica, Novak isn't a victim and I don't see his "wrong".
So further, what's your problem with Serbia?
Better read history than write nonsense!

Posted by jrod323 05/01/2008 at 09:13 AM

Even though the Djoker has made quite a splash on the tennis scene of late, I believe that he isn't trying to be a jerk-off. Because his parents and fans are so "vocal" I think that alot of people view him as obnoxioius. If he was really sick, then yes, I think it was alright for him to stop playing. For any other intention, it was not right. Overall I think the Djoker is great for professional tennis and has obviously changed the results of the past 6 months.

Posted by Koen 05/01/2008 at 09:14 AM

Nadal is trippin ZORRO...

Posted by tontonsky 05/01/2008 at 09:27 AM

Actually Koen, they are gladiators. For my money tennis players are the closest thing we have to gladiators. Look at the arenas they play in, one on one, beating each other senseless with groundstrokes. It should feel like life and death out there. And then when it is over the best of them can give credit where it is due.
Actually I get the feeling reading you and Serpiko and the other proud Serbs that you never gave a fig about tennis until you could be Nationalistic about it. It shows in your shallow analysis of the game, as we say "don't try and teach your grandmother how to suck eggs"
Get some respect for the history and true values of the game.

Posted by tontonsky 05/01/2008 at 09:31 AM

ognost phd. Sorry but your view of history is a little too short. Those supposedly splintered states have been problematic in european history for hundreds of years. It was only those nasty communists that lumped them together for a short period of time and stopped them killing each other for a little bit. The dissolution of the soviet union just let them get back to normal.

Posted by 05/01/2008 at 09:37 AM

Nadal is again in the news speaking out about the schedule. He is indirectly blaming some of these retirements (even Djoko's?) to the ATP.

Rafael Nadal believes that tennis administrators are making excessive demands on the top players and predicts that the compressed 2008 clay-court season will inevitably lead to more injuries and withdrawals from tournaments.

"Look to them when players cannot finish matches. When a player pulls out of an event, the tournaments should ring the ATP, not blame the player."

Nadal believes that it is unlikely that he will repeat his achievement of last season, when he collected clay titles at Monte Carlo, Barcelona, Roma and the French Open.

"You cannot keep a top level over four weeks," he said.

Posted by lira vega 05/01/2008 at 09:49 AM

Many interesting comments since last night, lot more level-headed then on the day of retirement. One that I really liked:
"I think there is room in all of argument-space for the one that postulates that neither Federer nor Djokovic are pure concentrated evil."
sam hill
"Which brings me back to Henin and Djokovic: they definitely aren't afraid to show that they respect themselves more than they do their opponents." I think this sums up nicely how I feel about Nole's alleged lack of respect for Fed and Rafa. Thank you for this one
"I spent some time travelling in Yugoslavis in 1970s.I lived in small villages in Serbia. Djokovic,in my perception, is typical of the young men.They were very aggressive and liked to talk themselves up (think highly of themselves).Even in their body language,they walked with a kind of strut.Some of Djokovics behaviour could be cultural.It seems Serbians are taught to value taking care of themselves,getting ahead in the world, and being competative.I could be wrong about this." This could be taken like an insult but I don't think there's any bad intention behind it and I've often wondered myself if there's some truth to it. I'm not a fan of those generalizations, but in all fairness I've heard this one many times (latest coming from friend of mine who works in Slovakia and he told me Slovaks think of "Yugos" and Italians as very arrogant). It's also funny that you used "taking care of themselves" expression, because Novak often speaks about how important it is to "take care of his body" or his "tiny, sensitive organism".
"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."Thank you, Pierre, but I think there's a chance it has something to do with trying not to be judgmental especially if you don't really know somebody.
Oh, and I've also learned that Serbia wouldn't have tourists if it weren't for Ana and, my favorite, that Novak should really do something to make Serbs and Yugoslavs live in peace:)
And one from the other thread that made me laugh (in a different way though) was Bismarck's "nooooo" when Chelsea scored in overtime-I know exactly how you felt

Posted by Sandra 05/01/2008 at 10:02 AM

From the comments here you'd think Djoko was the equivalent of Hitler - y'all take yourselves and your sport WAAAAAAY too seriously LOL. Does the audience for all tennis matches in one year even equal the audience for one big soccer match?! Maybe someone who brings a little mustard and pepper into the top of men's tennis might help increase its audience - at this point it couldn't hurt.

Posted by Serpiko 05/01/2008 at 10:04 AM

Sandra, I missed you big time... ))

Posted by doublestandard 05/01/2008 at 10:07 AM

Pete justifies Joker's retirement with this -

"It creates pressure, and pressure always seeks an outlet. If denied, the pressure shuts down the machine."

If that's a legitimate exucuse, then RAFA should just quit the European clay season now!

Posted by koen 05/01/2008 at 10:12 AM

Actually tontonsky they are both alive!So your'e wrong.

"For my money tennis players are the closest thing we have to gladiators."

Yeah, you and your money, and talking about tennis. Seems to be that you are talking about your spent money.
I'd rather recommend you ultimate fighting, yeah kill the Moth..Fu..r!

"Actually I get the feeling reading you and Serpiko and the other proud Serbs that you never gave a fig about tennis until you could be Nationalistic about it. It shows in your shallow analysis of the game, as we say "don't try and teach your grandmother how to suck eggs"

These are your words not mine.

Tennis is a game, JUST A GAME and nothing else.
Fed win Novak lost, and of story.

If you like watching crucifixion go to church,come in sight with God and maybe your money back!

Posted by Aussie Ange (Princess of Darkness) 05/01/2008 at 10:25 AM

Moderator can u do something about Koen and have him removed.

Posted by clb72 05/01/2008 at 10:36 AM

If you look at film of some of Djokovic's matches, I think you can see that he suffers from some kind of panic disorder. He appears to manage it for the most part (most of us don't go to work with millions of people watching us!), but he has "breathing problems" that are unrelated to fatigue in tight matches, such as in his quarterfinal win over David Ferrer. I'm inclined to be sympathetic and hope that he can overcome it, and maybe even serve as a role model for those who suffer from similar problems.

Posted by koen 05/01/2008 at 10:36 AM

Princess of Darkness, you obviously need some light but you are searchin' on the wrong side.

Thanks God I don't live in a Non-democracy world where your honest is Princess of darkness!

To moderator: Do what you want to do.

Posted by Aussie Ange (Princess of Darkness) 05/01/2008 at 10:38 AM

Koen there is no need for the strong language there are other sites for that.

Posted by lira vega 05/01/2008 at 10:42 AM

And count me on the "they are not gladiators". I don't like watching players torturing themselves out there. Right now I can remember couple of occasions where players that I rooted for in a match looked unable to play tennis to me but they decided not to retire and I really felt uncomfortable watching them and after a while decided to turn the TV off. Not to offend anybody but it looks obsessive and masochistic to me, though I realise that it is something many people admire...
But this has nothing to do with Novak's retirement in MC SF. I don't think he is in danger of being considered gladiator :)

Posted by koen 05/01/2008 at 10:44 AM

"Koen there is no need for the strong language there are other sites for that."

I'm just translating some opinion cause author wasn't clear to yourself.

Posted by lira vega 05/01/2008 at 10:47 AM

And I'm not encouraging such, um...passionate way of expressing opinion, just to make it clear

Posted by koen 05/01/2008 at 10:49 AM

princess please scroll-up and you will see what strong language is.

Posted by tontonsky 05/01/2008 at 10:51 AM

oh no please leave Koen here. He is pure genius for comedy .... and it is so baroque.. go to church if you like crucifixions... love it. Seem to recall that actual human sacrifice is no longer allowed. Bit of a pity really. Anyway, I seem to recall that if both gladiators fought well then neither of them had to die.... no thumbs down from the emperor as it were. big thumbs down to Djoko for not fighting the good fight...but mainly Koen it was not a literal statement, what i meant for all reasonable folk to see was that our blood-lust as a species has indeed been channeled and subjugated into something a little more civilized. Nonetheless i believe the metaphor holds true.

Posted by koen 05/01/2008 at 11:03 AM

Yes a sportsman is a modern gladiator but his health in our civilized world is on the first place. Moreover what is diferent
between loss and retirement, when the final result is equal LOSS.

Posted by koen 05/01/2008 at 11:06 AM

have to go..


Posted by Tari 05/01/2008 at 11:08 AM

"Moreover what is diferent between loss and retirement, when the final result is equal LOSS."

I have some questions then, regarding this thought. If a player doesn't believe he is going to win, and is not feeling his best for whatever reason, why shouldn't he retire from every match where he feels this way? Is it all the same to you? What circumstances would disappoint you in a retirement?

Posted by Staz 05/01/2008 at 11:12 AM

It looked like on the replay that Djokovic's parent's were right-the ball caught a bit of the line so his shot was in. Can anyone verify this?

Posted by Tari 05/01/2008 at 11:24 AM

Staz: Yes. It looked like it was in to everyone I think, including Roger, who was immediately on his way to check the mark (while being alleging heckled by Novak's box). He erased it, acknowledging the line calling error, and the point was replayed as it should have been.

Posted by tontonsky 05/01/2008 at 11:29 AM

Jeez Staz, keep up.
Roge was being his ever sportsman-like self.

Posted by Erin 05/01/2008 at 11:52 AM

seems like when Justine retired in a big match, she suddenly became villified as the "little backhand that quit"... now Djokovic does it,AGAIN, and it's "oh he is nervous so he thinks he's sick, no big deal, and he doesn't like to give his opponent satisfaction, after all the great Jimmy Connors did this stuff so we shouldn't be too mad".... Double standards much????

Posted by Voks 05/01/2008 at 11:58 AM

lira vega. youre spot on. its exactly the type of narrow view, of which demands for humility and and claims of arrogance usually come from.

Not to mention proclaiming someone - anyone - TYPICAL Serb or Swiss, or American (frat boy being my favorite:) or whatever.

Tontonsky, there are big words coming from you in the seccond paragraph of your 9:27 post, please mind who you put into what basket, and please reconsider 'baskets' in the first place. For the marks you are making, you are way out of complicity of the topic at hand. It also means I will not indulge you with specific negations of your claim.

I don't know your life experience, but I know mine. And I could write a lot about the ones connection to his motherland (and tennis). Its a dawnting subject, one Ive never wrote about here in fact. Its just this general impression that its could be easily misinterpreted and subjected to childish comments from somebody, whose opinion is based on lack of information that enables easy generalizations (which we witness often enough).

But its an interesting subject and (for me) easy to explore, so I congratulate to all well-minded and broad-thinking people who participate in this well-started topic by the blog author.

Firstly, its a fact that in the top five IN the world of tennis there are three interesting players from a 'small war-torn country somewhere in the dusts of Balkan peninsula'. Now, I know this is the perception for many people easy to adopt, and easy to disregard at the same time, but its a fact that human beings usually don't give a penny on what is happening somewhere else, other than their closest natural habitat.

The actual situation is as follows - loosely - for the people who are interested, If you feel fed-up with this topic, skip the following paragraph (I just feel like writing now, having my coffee):
In the middle ages Serbia was a rising kingdom and later self proclaimed tzardom until it was finally conquered by the Turks in 15th century . It rose up at the start of the 19th century and became kingdom again at the Berlin convention about 1876 (AD:). It was a struggling monarchy with rich heritage (as do all the countries - for struggling nobs. authors note).

After the First world war, which started in the neigbouring Bosnia (but was in fact of much larger, world-like origins), Serbia united with other slavic people and formed Yugoslavia (tears). It was a complicated affair, more a product of dynastic idea than of the real foreseeing political calculation. It broke under the Nazis and communist party started overtaking main political role in the country. For the next 40 years it was all rosy, oblivious of the outer world and happily tucked-in under Titos regime. Credit lines from the west, as an excange for political favors done by Tito's illustrious international image, kept people living on day to day basis, taking loans and being uninterested in politics thinking it will all be fine...

Than, of course, what happened (? to myself). Generally everyone can find his own conclusion, but me being in the legal guilt profession recognizes that not only should we be specific about actual events, but we should condone ourselves with enough distance from stating for certainty issues as general as connection between a single person and his origins actually is.

Basically, not to drill too much, Yugoslavia was very 'wreckable' and there was fine half dozen bunch of gentleman that sot so enthusiasticly to do it. Serbia is now struggling economically and politically. Its a divided country. Passions are strong, heavy language in pubčic life can become unbearable. Hell, I just change the chanel now-days. (just to be active 96 to 01)

As for our precious tennis players, my take is that they are handling it very good. Every now and then they have to answer to the press about their origins, which is understandable and expected. Ana, I think, does the best job.

As for Novak, he does seem to have a bigger baggage to carry. Its a brave act in my mind. Hes expected to do more because of the exposure and he realizes it (Im not expecting him to do anything apart from giving his best, and he can do better than retire I think). His actions of political connotations were in my opinion good and well intended and nicely performed in most part. Of course he has a lot of questions to answer and it is not his choice usually.

As for this nagging 'nerve' for demanding that he shows more respect and humility, and (O my!)'please don't be so arrogant' claims - Its often neglecting the bigger picture and endulging into frustration-emptying process, which people tend to do on-line, without fear of their actions being attributed to anything but their virtual nickname.

Its hard for me believe that Novak would rather be in the situation where he would have to answer "so, what the problem novak?" and where he would have to listen to these on-going rants about his lack of respect, all with realizing the difficulty of saying 'my immune system is going haywire'????!!?!

Or would he rather be a hugging-at-the-net young challenger, who had 'illness' for the past three days, and who is not worried a bit about the win that Federer deserved, because 'he is thinks he is young and has a lot of time ahead'?

Posted by argie_here 05/01/2008 at 12:09 PM

In Argentina people call us arrogants sometimes. But we do know that in order to be arrogant you need titles to back you up. Federer & Nadal have all of that to be all arrogant, yet they are very humble in victory.

Djokovic is just showing up, and acts like the most arrogant from the above 2. That's hilarious, that reminds me when in Soccer Argentina plays (for example) against Mexico or Colombia and they assume that they can beat us just by believing in themselves and show an arrogant face as big as ours. When they lose, they start yelling themselves, showing how weak psychologically they are.

Djokovic retires when he's losing in order to show that Roger beat him just because he was sick, strangely his sickness only shows up when playing against top players, when he's losing...., DJOKOVICs STATEMENT IS CLEAR, "PLAYERS CAN ONLY BEAT HIM EASILY WHEN HE'S FEELING SICK".

You can see, as Sharapova's father, that his Family is also bringing more extra pressure to Novak. By saying that Roger won't beat him again, that's just stupid, not even uncle Tony Nadal would say that. Strength and temper don't show up with words, but with actions.

We evaluate Novak, Nadal, and Federer, because of their actions on the courts, not because of their words in a press conference.

I still think that Federer problems is that is too nice and self contend, how in the world he said "keep quiet"?, that just too hypocrite, he should have behave as he used to do on his days as a "racquet broker", he should have said, "shut the @$%$%# up", most normal human being would have done that, in psychology it is well know that words and screams can release stress. Have you ever seen Mirka or uncle Tony Nadal screaming loud towards Roger or Rafa or against their rivals?, Tennis matches are won on the courts not outside of them, if the crowd wants to have something to say, well, go and attend Davis Cup.

Djokovic is famous for a lot of things besides the matches he plays, he should first play and win tournaments, build his career, and then start talking and act as an arrogant.

Posted by Tari 05/01/2008 at 12:11 PM

Interesting post, Voks. I just bought (actually a graphic novel) called "Safe Area Gorazde". I have no idea what I'm getting into, but it was recommended to me. Have you heard of it?

Hang in there...this stuff will hopefully pass for Novak.

Posted by argie_here 05/01/2008 at 12:18 PM

Damn, how I hate whenever Serbs, Croats, and whatever, bring politics to sports, it is not the first time I've seen it. As an Argentinian I can say that we still struggle with the Malvinas (Falklands) campaign of the Britsh army that killed a lot of our young and unexperienced soldiers. But the past is the past, we won't brought the topic seriously to a sports conversation, although we are always happy kicking British asses in soccer or tennis matches.

This is sports people, should we ask the UN to send an army of psychologists to the Balkans?

Posted by SueB 05/01/2008 at 12:20 PM

Wow! What a lot of heated posts re Djoko's retirement. And what a lot of supposition (both for and against) from numerous posters.

What I get from the comments is that the Monte Carlo final has everyone fired up. The perceptions of Djoko's retirement will become part of his reputation. He is now a truly controversial player.

And that's a shame because he has a crisp, clean, assertive game. I keep hoping he will deal with the diversionary stuff (ball bouncing, big head statements, get his family under control)and become the great player he could be.

If he doesn't he's going to be the Serbian tennis player who lived in Monte Carlo who didn't fulfill his potential.

Posted by Sam 05/01/2008 at 12:20 PM

Erin: I agree. I guess Pete cuts him some slack since he referred to him as the "perfect player" last year. Granted Henin's retirement came on a bigger stage, but Djokovic's frequency of retirements is far higher - Henin has retired 5 times in 598 matches (106 losses), compared to 5 times in 197 matches (56 losses) for Djokovic.

Posted by codepoke 05/01/2008 at 12:31 PM

Ah, the good ol' Internet. Bringing people together to do so much more than we could do Individually. :-)

Great article, Pete. Thanks.

When I grow up, I want to be like Roger and I want to not be like Novak.

Oh, and I want to not be like people who hate people they've only blogged at. All in all, I think I'd rather be like Novak. Unless Novak is already like them? :-)

Remember now, I don't hate you, Mr/Ms Angry Person. I just don't want to grow up to be like you. Have fun.

Posted by Sherlock 05/01/2008 at 12:31 PM

Voks, thanks for your 11:58. Very interesting.

That said, gosh, after an exhausting thread like this, I can hardly WAIT for Rome, Paris, etc. to actually talk about tennis. :)

Posted by Sherlock 05/01/2008 at 12:34 PM

Codepoke, LOL. Well said. :)

Posted by Sam 05/01/2008 at 12:41 PM

codepoke: Well done!

Posted by arbiter 05/01/2008 at 01:00 PM

He has retired 5 times. He had surgery due to the breathing problems. Nobody even tries to look from another angle - maybe he should have retired much more, but he handled his health problems with a lot of mental toughness? No, of course. Nobody cares. All you people show is hatred.

I think that Nole DOES NOT WANT his opponents to know that he sometimes has a serious problem with he talks about "sore throat" and other reasons.

But, it doesn't really matter...people will still hate him, as long as they are trained by the media (like that it is ok to hate him.

Posted by Sam 05/01/2008 at 01:03 PM

Yeah, not like any of us can think independently.

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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
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