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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 JR 05/01/2008 at 01:08 PM

"He reminds me of a well-mannered version of Jimbo."
I think that's got to be the least apt comparison Pete has ever made. Jimbo was the ultimate competitor in tennis history. Djoko is more than a lttle short of that.

Posted by lira vega 05/01/2008 at 01:17 PM

LOL, Voks, I can't believe you just posted that. And, Tari, you truly don't know what you're getting yourself into. I'm 23 and I guess I started being interested in those things around the age of 14. At first I was really enthusiastic learning about everything that happened here and reasons for it, but after a while it just gets too complicated and depressing...

Posted by Matt Zemek 05/01/2008 at 01:17 PM

Tribe:

Let's get some perspective here.

There's good arrogance, and there's bad arrogance. There's healthy ambition and competitive confidence, and then there are bad versions of the same.

It's not incorrect to say that Fed is arrogant. It is very dangerous and irresponsible to imply or suggest that Fed's arrogance is negative and/or harmful.

Remember: What matters in these conversations/debates is how well the athlete/figure in question is respected among his peers.

That is the gold standard.

We don't need any more manufactured/fabricated "controversies" in this world of ours.

Posted by abbey 05/01/2008 at 01:20 PM

voks, thanks for the history lesson. at least i learned something from this thread. ;) i'm reading a book now on the history of europe in the 20th century, so you going back farther in your post was a welcome footnote for this reader.

"he is thinks he is young and has a lot of time ahead?"

aside from the flimsy (for me) excuse, this line is what i don't agree with in djokovic's presser. he used the same line in his retirement against nadal in wimbledon. and my reaction then was the same. you're in the semifinals. at wimbledon. and you retire thinking you're young and have many more chances ahead of you in the future? how many one-slam wonders does tennis have? how many one-time finalists does tennis have? i know he's talented and all, but you just never know. for me, that's tempting fate too much, and i don't think it's a good attitude to have. sooner or later, he might just run out of chances.

Posted by SwissMaestro 05/01/2008 at 01:26 PM

argie,

Latin American countries do not really hold a grudge against Argentinean athletes but against the general view of the Argentinean people toward some other Latin American nations. Mexico and Colombia like you said do not have anything to envy from your country my friend if anything they do better. It is normal they want to beat Argentina and Brazil when they play against them as those two countries are the soccer powerhouses in the continent, kinda of like the same thing Djokovic has done with the whole Federer-related situation.

Posted by SwissMaestro 05/01/2008 at 01:38 PM

Nadal d. Lopez - He's so going for his 4th title in Barcelona although Ferrer might have something to say if they happen to meet.

Wawrinka d. Nalbandian - I think there are some bad matchups after all. Stan defeats Nalbandian more often than not.

Robredo d. Cañas - It was even in theory but it was easier than expected for the Spaniard, too bad, I consider Cañas to be one of the best 5 clay courters around.

My top 5 clay court players today:

1. Nadal - Who else? He's even more at home on clay than Borg.
2. Federer - He is 2nd. Despite any seed of doubt.
3. Davydenko - ALWAYS in the SF's or better.
4. Djokovic - Fair enough to put him here, he goes deep often.
5. Cañas or Nalbandian - Sometimes one, sometimes the other.

Honorable mentions: Ferrer, Monaco, Moya, Almagro, Andreev.

Posted by lira vega 05/01/2008 at 01:38 PM

I agree with you, abbey, I don't like hearing that line either. I remember when stories about Fed being the GOAT first appeared I was firmly in that camp and my brother was always saying that he's not even close to Sampras at which point I would pull "he's never won RG" card and say it's just a matter of time before Fed does it. Little did I know about Rafa back then...
But I think it might also be the case of trying to get over a tough loss by telling himself he's still young and blah, blah, blah...I don't think he's sitting on his hands or whatever the expression is waiting for things to come to him using being young as an excuse at which case I don't mind

Posted by Tari 05/01/2008 at 01:38 PM

Thanks, lira vega. I think you're right.

Posted by frances 05/01/2008 at 01:42 PM

...hmmm. The verdict is in -- Djokovic has somehow gotten on the good side of the press (the small band of white guys with mediocre writing skills that it is).

Posted by carnap 05/01/2008 at 02:00 PM

Yes, but was it surgery for a deviated septum, or (furiously stirring the pot)a nosejob done by the same surgeon who operated on Jankovic's "breathing problems?" Hmmm. Whole lotta breathing problems in Serbia...makes you wonder what's in the air over there.

Pete: Hate to break it to you, but Djokovic's "nationalism" only extends as far as his politics. If he truly loved Serbia, why is he domiciled in Monte Carlo? IMHO it's for a couple of reasons: 1) Monte is way more exciting and glamorous, and 2)Monte has no resident income tax. Now, a REALLY patriotic guy wouldn't mind living in his native country and ponying up a portion of his huge earnings as taxes to better serve the people of his nation. Just a thought, mind you. Hmmmm

Posted by SCT 05/01/2008 at 02:09 PM

carnap -
keep in mind that he still needs surgery to remove his foot from his mouth - he should breathe better after that

Posted by SwissMaestro 05/01/2008 at 02:18 PM

carnap - You can try to find out the bank account numbers of the politicians as well. It qould be esier to give them the money that way instead of having to pay the taxes to the state and not see what was done with that money...

Posted by Slice-n-Dice 05/01/2008 at 02:29 PM

Pete, interesting connection you draw between Djokovic and Connors. Jimmy was at one time thought to have "tanked" a number of matches that weren't going his way early in his career.

Two things I'd like to add.

First, while I admire the fact that Federer isn't about to let some people in the stands intimidate him, particularly his opponent's sizable entourage, I think it was pretty evident from the video clip that the kicking of the dirt that followed his "Be/Keep quiet!" was actually a rubbing out of the mark. And, of course, the Instant Replay indicated that the ball from Djokovic's racquet that was called out by the linesperson actually was good. Nonetheless, kudos to Roger for not taking any crap.

Second, I feel that there may actually be an element of long-term strategizing at play amidst all these mid-match retirements from Djokovic. Despite the negativism associated with quitting, and the criticism many athletes endure for it (think only to Justine Henin's retirement after losing the first set and going down a break to give Amelie Mauresmo her first Slam), it may be an attempt to keep an opponent from being able to enjoy a well-earned victory. Of course, we will call a W a W, regardles of how it is earned once the first ball is struck, but to the winner of a match decided by retirement, it is a bittersweet victory at best.

The loser, in this case Djokovic, is effectively saying, "I'll have the last word, here, thank you. I'll decide this thing, not you. You are not i ocntrol of the outcome, I am."

This may seem a stretch, but think of a chess match in which a player resigns by knocking over his king much to early, before you've had the pleasure of putting himn into check and seizing the point-count advantage. You and he both know it's invitable, if you don't choke, but something has been taken away from you, the victor, by your opponent's not letting things transpire long enough to see the domination begin to unfold.

It is that unfolding of events that is mising, and that every tennis player expects he has a right to enjoy on his way to victory. Taking that process away from the winner gives the loser a small element of power, authority, control. It is the ultimate insult. That is why I was so ashamed of Henin for pulling out against Mauresmo, and I have not forgiven her yet.

Posted by Syd 05/01/2008 at 02:37 PM

Slice-and-Dice:

Could not agree with your comments more. You put it perfectly.

Posted by Voks 05/01/2008 at 02:44 PM

well, codepoke... is this an open forum? or is it a closed one, where buddys from the hood play cards and chit-chat online?

in case you feel like you've been mentioned in my post... than it applys to you. its simple as that.

now use the 'search' button on the word 'hate' in my post and yours. and while youre at it, reread the thread after MC semis.

you just might grow-up then...

Posted by Slice-n-Dice 05/01/2008 at 02:44 PM

Syd, :-) I appreciate the nice comment. I wonder if Bodo will ever visit this page again. I'd be interested in his take. As all frequent competitive players know, a bittersweeet victory can have lasting consequences and can leave a shred of doubt in the mind that can have an impact on the match when the two meet again.

Posted by FootWorkFan 05/01/2008 at 02:45 PM

"it was pretty evident from the video clip that the kicking of the dirt that followed his "Be/Keep quiet!" was actually a rubbing out of the mark. And, of course, the Instant Replay indicated that the ball from Djokovic's racquet that was called out by the linesperson actually was good"

Slice-n-dice, Federer conceded that the call was bad (that is, Djokovic's shot was good). They replayed the point.

Posted by Syd 05/01/2008 at 03:09 PM

Slice:

I'd be interested to know what you think about the idea of points being lost for retirement? When you step into a pro match aren't you supposed to be fit to play? Obviously, stuff happens, but point loss might discourage some of the more casual retirements we've seen of late.

Posted by koen 05/01/2008 at 03:18 PM

"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?"

First error in your question-"If a player doesn't believe..."
-How do you know that player believe or not believe? He or she told you?

-More realistic is that player believe in yourself(in Novak case I'm sure, cause he showed that he can beat all of them).

"why shouldn't he retire from every match where he feels this way?"

-Everything is relative.
If somebody have injured me and I bump it, does it mean that always i have to react like that. Can I forgive that or another person another time or i have to follow "tradition" of first time?

Also another answer can be >>cause he believe<<.

"What circumstances would disappoint you in a retirement?"

Betrayal! But in this case he could fake only himself!


Posted by Voks 05/01/2008 at 03:22 PM

Tari, @ 12:11 PM. No I haven't. If its something political, Im past it. I mostly stick to novels these days.

Posted by Crazy-for-Rog 05/01/2008 at 03:29 PM

On clay, when players rub out the mark of the ball on the line, they are signalling the umpire that the ball was in, which was was Federer did by kicking the clay, thereby conceding that Djokovic's ball was good. By erasing the mark, it won't be confused with other marks made by the ball.

If a player thinks the ball was out or wants the umpire to double-check, they would circle the mark with the racquet tip.

Posted by Slice-n-Dice 05/01/2008 at 03:29 PM

FootWorkFan... yes, this is why I am not down on Federer for rubbing out the mark. Had the chair umpire wanted to see the mark, it would have been a sly act of deceoption and he'd have lost the point, at the very least.

Syd... as with most things of this nature (crime and punishment), I'd rather reward those players who compete to the finsh each tournament that they enter. Perhaps a year-end bonus of points and/or cash. Or an exemption card that they could use the following year if thy are in mid-tournament and need to withdraw, so that it wouldn't affect their perfect record. Something along those lines.

No fines or point deductions, as they will not work and will only engourage players to continue playing on when it would actually be in their best physical interest not to. And that might encourage tanking of the more blatant and obvious kind. Nothing good in that for anyone, as far as I can see.

Posted by redscalp 05/01/2008 at 03:45 PM

carnap,
djoko lives in montecarlo for other reasons: there are better training facilities (almost none in serbia)and he can practice with other players who live in MC; he is so popular in serbia now that he couldn't have a normal life, he wants to preserve his private life; in MC he is closer to Milan, where his girlfriend studies. I don't deny the tax benefit is not an advantage for him; and ivanovic lives in switzerland, in bale like roger, she moved there when she was younger to have a training structure ; jankovic lives in florida, she left serbia when she was like 12 for the same reasons.
the glamourous side is not an argument; anyway he is travelling the whole year, how could he enjoy that part? and he has enough fun during the tournament if he wants, each tournament has a player's party.
and like every serb, he is very proud of his country but I don't know if we can say he is nationalist but I don't think he is more patriotic than a Roddick; I think he is just more extravert and shows it more often. i think he is just a normal young serb who was brought up with a very strong confidence; maybe the serbian bloggers here could confirm if novak looks like any other serbian guy?
maybe his pride is his strenght, but it could be also his weakness somehow. i just hope he won't quit a match in these conditions in the future; pride is always an obstacle to maturity. but he seems he always wants to learn, his coach will prob

Posted by rescalp 05/01/2008 at 03:51 PM

oops
my line was cut
his coach will probably help on this point

Posted by redscalp 05/01/2008 at 03:54 PM

for me this is only the 2nd time he quits for unclear reasons: the 1st was 2 years ago in RG against nadal; but I don't remember if he was already with vajda at that moment
if anyone has the answer

Posted by redscalp 05/01/2008 at 03:58 PM

concerning the other times he quit, for me it was ok: in february in DC against russia, he was really sick, like the whole team! believe me he would do anything to win for his country! you will see next year, in DC, they have a big chance to remain in the world group.

Posted by Slice-n-Dice 05/01/2008 at 04:01 PM

Crazy-for-Rog... point well taken.

Posted by ms. tangerine popsicle (tangi) 05/01/2008 at 04:16 PM

Slice,

Don't you think the retirement could work in Roger's favor from a mental standpoint? Couldn't Roger interpret that as Novak saying, "I know I can't beat you, so I'm going to quit so you CAN'T win." Isn't it kind of an admission of intimidation by the retiree?

I say Roger has the mental edge in the next matchup between the two. Novak knows his actions are not respected by Roger, and he knows tht Roger knows he folded his tent under pressure.

Posted by Christopher 05/01/2008 at 04:19 PM

"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?!"

Sandra-- It's a blog about tennis, what do you expect? Should tennis fans care less because tennis soccer is more popular? That's an odd notion.

Posted by Slice-n-Dice 05/01/2008 at 04:30 PM

Oh, for certain it could, tangi. And probably will!

It depends entirely on the mental makep of the vanquisher.

This is why I did not say I thought the ploy was necessarily effective. Only that it is/can be a last-ditch attempt by the eventual loser to wrest some control from the eventual winner.

Excellent point, well taken!

Posted by sheshe 05/01/2008 at 04:44 PM

Pete Bodo...After reading this post twice, I couldn't help but feel like you were not being very honest with what you really felt about Novak's retirement. You sounded like a Parent of a child who clearly has behaviour problems and do not want to be honest with yourself. Instead you make "excuses" or "explanations" for his/her behavior. This isn't like you. I read your posts daily and was very excited when I saw you Finally addressed this matter and finished reading it thinking WHAT THE????? Pete usually is Right On....HHMMM, somehow Novak has you guys feeling sorry for him???? I just do not get it. Please call a spade a spade. We were ALL dissapointed with that "fake" retirement, and he needs to realise how many people he let down..And unfortunately it sounds like he feels sorry for himself..This is just WAY TOO TWISTED....

Posted by ms. tangerine popsicle (tangi) 05/01/2008 at 04:45 PM

Hi Slice,

I bet the other players took note of him giving up on this match, too. Perhaps they view it as a weakness to be exploited next time they face Novak? It will be very interesting to see how he performs the rest of the season.

I agree ... it could be an attempt to retain some mental edge over the vanquisher. I see it as more of a mental ploy Novak uses to convince HIMSELF that he really had control of the match and would have won had he been physcially able to continue. Remember the match vs. Rafa at FO when he retired 2 sets down but said in his presser he was in control?

Of course, it is a tactic that cannot be used on a regular basis. He will have to face his fears and his parents (maybe they're one and the same?) at some point. Given his parents' proclamation that their son wouldn't ever lose to Fed again, the king is dead, etc., maybe he felt he couldn't come off the court defeated. This was his way out.

Posted by colin 05/01/2008 at 05:01 PM

I dont think djoker gives a flip about roger's greatness, nor should he. this is a competitive sport; fan boys hop on and hate to hear anything bad about their 'boy'. seems like a Yankees vs redsox here battle between djoker/fed sides - no love lost between the two. Its good for tennis. Id love to see NADAL say Im GOING TO BREAK U FEDER At wimby or even USOpen. thats been what i think has been holding nadal back from the topest lvl is that burning fire to destroy - he has it on clay but not on the others. To me roger excelled in a weak era, copying sampras's serve. hopefully the era is changing now. novak quits rather than losing at the end of 6, so what- I agree with ya pete a loss is a loss. He figured it wasnt a slam nor did he seem to want to keep playing so he threw in the towl to fight another day. he made his money. To many of us, this is not a good philosophy, goes against our beliefs of NEVER SURRENDER, NEVER DIE. I think the atp should review drop outs in master series events, maybe rule change, player loses points or no money if dropping in master events for bogus reasons. Novak needs a good strength training conditioner- physically and mentally* to change his ways.

Posted by Lo Svizzero 05/01/2008 at 05:32 PM

Novak has retired twice from a slam and both times against Nadal. At the 2006 FO and at the 07 Wimbledon SF. Yes you read right, Wimbledon SEMIFINAL! I would do antyhing to win that Slam that happens to be my favorite...

Posted by Ante 05/01/2008 at 05:45 PM

Posted by mariej... vamos king of clay ! 04/30/2008 @ 5:07 PM
------------------------------------------
A gree.
It is ok to be young and wild. Young and ambitious. Those three things go together. As long as he beat everyone, and achieve the GS title. That's an achievement.

And one more thing: As long as he didn't offend anyone. And Djoko didn't.

Arrogance? That is a personal opinion, i'd say. Personal state of mind.

It's good thing that we have some wild gigant different from humble one (Nadal, Davydenko, ...). I don't think Fed is humble. After having Jimmy and McEnroe it was about time to have another one. There will always be somebody. Now it is Djoko, tomorrow someone else.

Some people make big mistake identifying Novak with his parents statments. Wrong! That drags tennis matter away onto the spectators. No wonder why some Serbs see it as national attack.

So, guys, stay in tennis with your comments and keep with the athlets please.
I have no arguments with article except section where Pete said that Federer did good thing communicating with Novak's parents on the court during the match!! That's wrong. Federer shouldn't extend his play beyond the court during the match. Which he did. And that's the mistake.

Posted by Erin 05/01/2008 at 05:46 PM

Posted by Sam 05/01/2008 @ 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."

That's right, and Justine really doesn't have a habit of retiring in big matches or vs big rivals either like Novak does, which makes me believe her retirements are more legit..Justine has lost plenty of matches with a poor score and still played the match out, and at least she had a clearly stated reason for quitting at the AO, not vague 'breathing issues" like novak, which actually translate to "panic attacks because my opponent is beating me or playing quite well"

Posted by sam hill 05/01/2008 at 06:31 PM

[ That's right, and Justine really doesn't have a habit of retiring in big matches or vs big rivals either like Novak does, which makes me believe her retirements are more legit..Justine has lost plenty of matches with a poor score and still played the match out, and at least she had a clearly stated reason for quitting at the AO, not vague 'breathing issues" like novak, which actually translate to "panic attacks because my opponent is beating me or playing quite well" ]


Once again ... the "habit of retiring against his biggest rivals" isn't real! You all can't have forgotten what was going on in Wimbledon 2007 ... he was clearly shot.

Against Davydenko, he was clearly ill. (And leading the match at the time.)

As for retiring in 2006 against Nadal, at that point in his career, Djokovic hadn't even played in a Tour final. They were NOT rivals at the time. Djokovic was ranked 63 or something like that -- losing to the defending RG champion wasn't exactly something to worry about.

I think there might have been something less than honorable about the Federer withdrawal, but to base it on some sort of habit that he quits when he's losing to his rivals is rewriting history.

Are there other issues? He's a bit of a drama queen, for sure, but there is certainly more evidence that he has health issues than that he quits when he is losing to his big rivals.

Posted by Anthony Beckman 05/01/2008 at 07:16 PM

I'm no nationalist. One of the nice things about tennis for me is it's non-team sports perspect, exponential qualities of doubles aside. But, no need to yell anti-Serb prejudice after some people see signs of bad sportmanship in one guy. I laughed at some of Djoker's serve imitations, too, but it's not impossible (nor likely...) to read some poor sportmanship in them.

I think you miss the point at Rafa's expense, Colin (re: "NADAL say Im GOING TO BREAK U FEDER"). His complaint about Cl-Ct-Ssn-scrunch is nicely weighted by his econ. of opinion, no?

Posted by Anthony Beckman 05/01/2008 at 07:18 PM

Too bad, but drop-pits should lose their point for that tourney, period.

Posted by Anthony Beckman 05/01/2008 at 07:43 PM

"No fines or point deductions, as they will not work and will only engourage players to continue playing on when it would actually be in their best physical interest not to. And that might encourage tanking of the more blatant and obvious kind. Nothing good in that for anyone, as far as I can see."

Why not?? Too hot in the kitchen? Then don't play. Best physical interest for the best physical? Hey, they are perfactly free to not play at any moment of any day, like me. (Too busy sitting...) :)

Posted by Anthony Beckman 05/01/2008 at 08:08 PM

This artlice should've been entitled "Nole Contendere."

Posted by Anthony Beckman 05/01/2008 at 08:09 PM

(I mean *article* - lice are usually inartistic.)

Posted by Zora 05/01/2008 at 11:37 PM

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

I agree!

Wish we all here could be at least little more like the great sportsmen: Federer, Nadal, Djokovic... and so many others!!
Less hate and blame, more hard work and respect!


Posted by Sash 05/02/2008 at 01:00 AM

Don't see why Nole has to resort to any kind of unsportsmanship at all! He is such a talented guy; in fact i think he is the most talented guy after Roger.
Also think that he has to block the expectations and pressure cast on him by others when he steps on the court. That would surely help him in achieving even greater success.

Posted by ognost 05/02/2008 at 02:51 AM


Because of his attitude and behavior, Novak is losing about 10,000 fans with each passing day.

I hope he won't reach the Roland Garros final otherwise we will witness a repeat of the '99 incident Hingis versus Graf.

Boooos from 28,000 Centercourt spectators.

Posted by Serpiko 05/02/2008 at 03:44 AM

Ognost,

Boooos from 28,000 Centercourt spectators......... No tennis stadium has such capacity, epsecially the one in Paris. Check figures before you start writting smth here.

Because of his attitude and behavior, Novak is losing about 10,000 fans with each passing day.... -> take some medicals man

Cheers,


Posted by ognost 05/02/2008 at 05:29 AM


i just remembered that even in his first Grand Slam title, the Centercourt crowd did not clearly like Novak.

why is that?

In Melbourne 2008, the crowd was all for Tsonga, and Novak acknowledged that in his 'thank you' speech.

Posted by Limbo 05/02/2008 at 06:25 AM

After going through all the posts, these are my thoughts.

It seems like the most vocal of Djoko defender for his retirement comes from Serbians (expect to be so) with Serpiko being the most out-spoken one. One of our fellow poster mention that he had stayed in Serbia for sometime and that the people there is considered arrogant. For me, Serpiko represent this in his writing, by dening the fact that to give up a match while to everyone else that he is much capable of finishing (remember he just broke Fed 2 games earlier), is simply rubbish. One have to take one medicine sometimes, and admit that he is seeing a better player beating him on that day. Just my opinion, and am sure will get flame by Serpiko soon. :)

And what I am going to post next will sure get flame by a lot of other. This is what is said to me by a friend the day after that MC semi-final, so don't "kill" me for posting this. My friend, who likes to both watch and bet on tennis, told me that he suspect that Djoko must have bet on his matches (conspirary theory by him). He just put down $100 for a Fed win (Djoko was slight favourite on that day according to him) and by retiring, all bets are off and the money get refunded. Thus, accordingly to him, that if he, through some other agency, place a huge bet on himself and see that he is going to loss the match, will simply retire from it, so he can get the refund on the bet back. If he wins, then he makes a killing, and if not, he just retire. A win-win situation for him. Hmm, food for thoughts.

For me, personally, I don't really buy the theory above, but just want to share this to other people that bet on matches. Is the above true? Anyway, as I said, don't flame me too much for it and I only love to watch tennis matches. Thats all.

Enjoy the tennis folks.

Posted by Serpiko 05/02/2008 at 06:31 AM

Ongost,
Tsonga is a great guy, great character. All World was crazy about him, good story, resemblance with Mohamed Alli etc.. Even to me (die hard Djoko fan) Tsonga is incredible intersting player and all the way till the final I was supporting him as well.
In today's tennis world, Roger and Rafa are loved the most simple because no other player was able to impose himself.
Things are changing though...

Posted by Serpiko 05/02/2008 at 06:38 AM

@ Limbo
DO you read my posts carefully?
Already several times I have written that I DONT JUSTIFY the fact that Novak retired against Federer. He should have on the court and lose the match since to me he did not look that bad. I mean, I am die hard fan of Novak but also have some sense for realism.
It was a bad thing to do, I and I fully agree with most of the people here who critize Novak for retiring.
Cheers,

Posted by Serpiko 05/02/2008 at 06:43 AM

@ Limbo
Djokovic has no reasons to bet since he is a multi-millioner. Players who to do bets on their matches are the ones ranked 100 something...
Surely, here I dont include Davydenko yet, but I am almost certain that he will be cleared of any charges.

Posted by Sash 05/02/2008 at 07:03 AM

Safin losing.:-(

Posted by Sash 05/02/2008 at 07:13 AM

Sampras and Federer almost never travelled with their parents and family along. Having them around when you play important matches is disadvantageous, especially when a player is smart enough to decide things for himself.

Posted by Voks 05/02/2008 at 08:18 AM

its not worth it Serpiko... except for minority of decency, its a 'cocktail' party here. the eyesight got blurry with all the booze...

Posted by Limbo 05/02/2008 at 08:28 AM

Yea, Serpiko, as I said, I dont't believe in the betting senario too. And, am sure that Kolya is innocent too.

Ok, I also feel that we should stop on this issue already. Either Djoko will mature or he will not. Let's see how he cope with his next big test (against either Rafa or Fed).

Posted by Serpiko 05/02/2008 at 12:49 PM

Voks, agree but we need spread the energy ))
Take care

@Limbo, thanks for understanding. Fully agree with you on the statement that future will bring us many answers.
Cheers,

Posted by Primakof 05/04/2008 at 10:57 AM

Yea!
all Novak's fans are Serbs only! (wrongly: Serbians).
And they all are arrognat, including Novak.
We all should hate them and be more than happy when Novak retires or lose.

It would be nice if somebody somehow find the way to charge Novak with fraud and deprive his AO title. Give it to Roger. If there was no Novak, Roger would have won it anyway.

This is only the justice.

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