Novak Djokovic Gregarious and Steely

by Dan Martin | February 3rd, 2011, 12:23 pm

Better to be Feared than Loved?

Novak Djokovic has produced some incredibly memorable moments for fans. At the 2007 US Open, his impressions, even if mildly impious, won over the crowd. At the 2009 US Open, Novak had an impromptu hitting session with John McEnroe to repair damages with the New York crowd from a testy encounter with Andy Roddick in 2008. At the 2011 Australian Open, Djokovic danced with Kym Johnson on a practice court. Nole likes to be liked, and this is good for tennis in general.

However, Novak struggled with Andy Roddick in 2009 and 2010 after their 2008 US Open conflict. This losing streak made less sense when one considers that Roddick’s serve is the only area where he clearly has an advantage versus Nole. Given the disparity in each man’s return game; relatively speaking Novak and Andy should at best be a wash when it comes to who holds serve more easily. Yet, the Serb lost 4 consecutive matches to Roddick losing 8 of 9 sets prior to a one-sided win over Roddick in November 2010.

Roger Federer is a more talented and decorated player than Andy Roddick. That perhaps made Novak’s deference to Federer from late 2008 through August 2010 more understandable. After Djokovic drubbed Federer at the 2008 Australian Open, Federer and Djokovic contested a tension filled match in Monte Carlo. Federer vocally rebuked Novak’s parents and let his displeasure be known at Djokovic’s retirement from the match. At the 2008 US Open Federer entered the semifinal round coming off of a poor summer season. Federer raced through the first set, but Novak rebounded and took the second set. Crowd displeasure over the Roddick incident seemingly unnerved Novak in a tight third set and great serving from Federer ultimately turned a close match into something of a walk for Federer in the fourth set. Novak had success versus Roger in some venues during this time period, but his deferential loss to Roger in Cincinnati in 2009 along with a meek effort at the 2009 US Open semifinals did not bode well for Novak ever supplanting the Swiss. Roger began to speak positively about Novak’s personality and what he brings to the tour. To my mind, it came across as Federer saying, “So long as Novak knows his place in the pecking order, I am happy to say he’s great.”

Arm Chair Psychology?

Players from the former Yugoslavia who either played or came of age during the Yugoslavian Civil War have left interesting marks on the world of professional tennis. Croatian Goran Ivanisevic may have been a European counterweight to Pete Sampras had his mental game been sturdier. Mario Ancic, despite his obvious talent, never quite recovered from illness and became an attorney. Serbia’s Janko Tipsarevic has a philosophical mind and Dostoyevsky’s words tattooed on his body.

Russian literature, law degrees and emergency Goran are great, but elite athletes have to be single minded. War time tragedies obviously detract from that focus. The word asceticism comes from the same root word as athlete. Athletes who cannot filter out white noise in life tend to struggle. Andre Agassi’s book Open bemoaned his 1993 consecutive break-ups with his girlfriend and then his coach. Sure those events can impact a player’s psyche. War is a stress that is different by kind rather than degree from coaching strife and an up and down love life. War might make a player think there are things more important than a tennis ball. The upside of this is that a player such as Tipsy may walk onto court not overly awed by Roger Federer or Andy Roddick. Why be intimidated by a tennis player if tennis losses are far from the worst thing that can happen to a person? Then again, the laser-like focus needed to bear down on an opponent can at times leave such a player (see Tipsarevic vs. Fernando Verdasco at Oz 2011). The impact of Djokovic’s war torn upbringing is unclear. He obviously carries a sensitivity to his nation’s past with him today as his victory speech in Australia demonstrated. Maybe Novak carries an aversion to personal conflicts because of the war, or perhaps Novak just likes to be embraced due to his gregarious nature. Either way, tensions with Roddick and Federer seem to have hurt Novak’s results in the past.

US Open 2010 as a Turning Point

At the 2010 US Open, Novak shed the vanilla efforts of US Open 2008 and 2009 and stood toe to toe with Federer. He saved match points and won in 5 thrilling sets. Novak then pushed Rafa in the final round despite not serving at a high level. Winning the 2010 Davis Cup undoubtedly gave Nole, already holder of a slam title, a season ending title and an Olympic Medal (Bronze 2008), a keystone achievement from which to build. The 2011 Australian Open semifinals featured a rematch of Federer and Nole. Novak won easily despite Federer invoking tactics he used in Monte Carlo in 2008. They worked once. I don’t think it is awful that he tried them again. Murray, who is much closer to Novak than Roger is, gave glances and stares to Novak’s team as well. Roger did however not speak about any of that in his post match presser. Novak had beaten him at the previous two majors and Roger simply said Novak was the better player that night. The message I draw from that is that Roger knows Novak has become strong enough that rebuking his team’s noise level is not going to work any longer. That well is dry.

Novak is now both likable and vicious. After beating Federer, Novak did not shy away from discussion of the London press corps and the pressures they place on Murray. Novak did not do anything wrong in talking about a real aspect of what Murray faces as a tennis player. However, Novak talking about these things does not strike me as a player shying away from conflict. Novak does not seem overly concerned about being loved by his peers. Dominance requires coming to terms with one’s excellence as compared to others. The day of Novak exerting his gifts on the tour may have arrived. That may give players more reasons to fear him and fans more reasons to love him.

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149 Comments for Novak Djokovic Gregarious and Steely

Nina Says:

Excellent and original article, Dan. :)
I also think Djokovic’s career has suffered from Federer and Roddick’s confrontations in the past.
The positive thing is that Novak now has come to terms with his popularity and tennis star status. He enjoys himself but doesn’t need to prove himself to others any longer. He nows plays for himself (and maybe his country) only. I think Novak has finally matured, both physically and mentally. I think the new era of Novak has arrived.

jane Says:

Yay, an eagerly anticipated piece from Dan (definitely for Nole fans :)). I would say that Nole struggled with Andy R due to his own “lack” of serve for a while too. So it was probably partly mental, but partly Nole’s game/serve broke down at the same time Roddick’s was resurrected under Stefanki in 2009. Nole changed his racquet at beginning 2009, and changed his serve motion end 09-mid 2010.

“Roger began to speak positively about Novak’s personality” I also think this came about because Nole was serving on the Player’s council with Fed & Rafa and I think when Nole was working close to them, his view about them changed too, and Nole began speaking positively about them in the press, which he remains doing to this day. He realize what they’ve achieved, and he rightly respects that and them, but he has found his inner desire to win regardless.

I just think for whatever reason, Rafa is a worse match up for Nole than Fed. I’d love to hear reasons for why people think that is.

Dan, i loved your “armchair psychology” about war, or any tragedy” and how that might affect a player. Sometimes, I even wonder about Murray’s experience with the school shooting, and also his parent’s divorce. I am certain these sorts of things might need to be worked through for some players – not all. It depends on that person’s nature too.

I hope you’re right about Nole, that he has found an equilibrium. He was so much calmer, and contained, throughout the AO. The occasionally bellow for a good point, but very little bemoaning mistakes and over-celebrating. A very sharp focus on the court, and happiness off it. That’s what I hope he demonstrates more of throughout 2011.

stu Says:

Your article was worth the wait, Dan. Absolutely agree re. Federer and Roddick, altho if the roles were reversed (esp. in Fed’s case), they would not have been affected by it as much as Nole was. Maybe it has to do with the experiences Nole had growing up, as you said, and now he’s learnt (from experience, and Roger), what champions are made of. I don’t know if he will achieve everything we expect him to in tennis terms, but I do think we won’t be seeing any more of the weak, vulnerable, self-pitying Nole that showed up in 2008-09.

Swiss Maestro Says:

Rafa is a worse match up for Nole than Fed. I’d love to hear reasons for why people think that is.

maybe because Roger is about 5yrs older than novak (that is half a generation in tennis) while nadal is about the same.

eventually this is how things might end :

on HC,

Fed > djokovic > nadal (slam count = 9,2,2)


fed > nadal > djokovic ( 6,2,0)


nadal > fed > djokovi (5,1,0)


fed > djokovic > nadal (masters cup : 5,1,0)

stu Says:

those numbers of yours need to be weighted by at least the number of years on tour, if not a gazillion other factors.

Swiss Maestro Says:

I will not be bought on nole unless he beats rafa in a slam. It is all and well beating Roger, but he is from another generation which is riding into the twilight. ofcourse he is better off beating Roger than losing to him.

It makes it even more damning that djokovic has the ideal tools to beat nadal (2handed backhand and good height to counter the bounce) yet djokovic has lost the 3 biggest matches they played outside clay, wimbledon semis 2007, olympics sf, 2008 and USopen 2010. the wimbledon semis, no doubt novak was in pole position but the sheduling havoc bit him the worst! (hewitt, baghdatis and nadal on consecutive days? that is too brutal for anyone!)

the other 2, no excuses for novak letting them slip. the good thing though is that he is still 23, so he has atleast 3-4years of top-flight tennis! we will have to see if he will make it count or let it slip away. this is a cross-roads point for novak. which path he takes might decide, in a very unfortunate way for him and his fans, who wins the GOAT bout between nadal and Fed. sorry novak fans, that is the way i see it.

Dan, thanks for a very interesting perspective. I have no doubt, Novak paid the price for taking Roddick on, all the more so, given Novak was the one at fault there.

some kind of karma-guilty feeling mix was in the works there. Roddick did nothing wrong, he was being funny, just like novak was when he was imitating others. let us hope novak has exorcised those ghosts.

Swiss Maestro Says:

stu, i agree – but those are the numbers that matter.

we will see how they will look eventually.

stu Says:

Wimby 07 – ret., understandably. Olympics – it was SO close, really. A point here and there. If I remember correctly, Nole held more match points. Queens club in 2008 too, SO close. USO 2010 = Rafa the serving machine and Nole without a serve…

which is why, fans think the new Nole with a working serve now has the mental strength to make the “SO close” matches go his way…

stu Says:

“given Novak was the one at fault there”

again, a matter of perspective. while I agree that Novak overreacted, I think Roddick was out of line. insinuating that someone is faking an injury is NOT the same as Novak’s harmless impersonations of service motions/ clothing/ movement. but we don’t need to get into that again, bygones.

johnny Says:

Rogers’ ego is an untamed beast. Haven’t seen a player so deeply emerged in vanity and smugness. For me, Rafa is the example of the ultimate champion, always humble in his achievements.

Novak learned one thing in respect to Roger: “Always tell Rogers is the best ever and keep beating him on every occasion”. Works nicely for me.

Swiss Maestro Says:


Roddick echoed what every one except the rosy eyed djokovic fans already knew. Djokovic’s retirements and MTOs were becoming a joke at that point.

I would take Roger’s candidness over Rafa’s false humility any day. If he was really humble he wouldn’t have had issues with soderling/berdych.

Fed has 6 sportsmanship awards to rafa’s 1. I am sure the players are smarter than little johnnies that post on discussion boards.

johnny Says:

“Fed has 6 sportsmanship awards to rafa’s 1. I am sure the players are smarter than little johnnies that post on discussion boards.”

Very True, someone had to feed insatiable Roger’s ego lil Swiss Maestro ;)

Naydal Says:

Great article, but Novak is still a complete prick when it comes down to it…in the vein of a young Jimmy Connors. It takes a very “special” fan to like that personality.

stu Says:

He has retired from 9 matches over a 9-year career. Roddick has retired 12 times in 12-year career. And Novak plays more tournaments, and gets deeper in them. Just sayin…

jane Says:

SM: are you saying neither Nole nor Rafa will ever win another hard court or grass slam? Seems like a leap; I would think, given their ages, that Rafa could grab one more grass title and Nole, hopefully, given he’s been in two finals there, a USO title. I suppose it could happen that they don’t, perhaps especilly if a new fleet of younger guys come up to challenge, and/or if JMDP gets back to full flight. Murray should win the AO, USO and Wimbledon once, but we’ll see.

“maybe because Roger is about 5yrs older than novak (that is half a generation in tennis) while nadal is about the same.”

I take your point; however, Fed beats lots of younger guys on a regular basis too. I feel like it may be that Fed’s aggressive and ends points more quickly; if Nole hangs in there, he can squeeze out the wins. But with Rafa, most points last and last and last, and Nole gets broken, if not physically, then mentally. I hope he beats Rafa in a big match soon.

Nole will regret that Olympic match the most out of all of them maybe; he started slow, but then he came roaring back. One badly timed smash allowed Nadal to serve for the match. Nole left the court with tears that time. I think it hurt.

He may be at a crossroads. Another way to look at it is that he crossed the road with the DC and AO wins. So happy he has two slams now, but it would be awesome to see him win somewhere else too.

Jose Says:

interesting piece. i could be wrong, but i don’t think anyone even asked Federer or Murray about the noise from Djokovic’s box in their post-match press conferences.

johnny Says:

“Great article, but Novak is still a complete prick when it comes down to it…in the vein of a young Jimmy Connors. It takes a very “special” fan to like that personality.”

The same you can say for Roger, when he is winning he is full of grace, when he is loosing he is a great disappointment. The latest example was the AO match when he harassed Novak during his serve and systematically complained to the umpire: everything bothered him coz he was losing. He also tried to break Novak’s rhythm by taking the bathroom break.

Give him another sportsmanship reward says me!

Eric Says:

This is an interesting article, Dan, although I would certainly agree with those who have pointed out that Federer won the ATP sportsmanship award six times in a row or whatever and no one actually in a position to know him has ever said anything negative about him really, so he’s obviously not the Machiavellian and manipulative monster you make him to be.

But I think the larger point that Nole has finally “found himself” is definitely right. The next year or two should be fun.

(Also: “asceticism comes from the same root word as athlete.” Erm, dunno where you got this idea, but… wrong.)

Dan Martin Says:

I am going to write 1 column per month, but since I missed January I will add a second to either July, August or September.

I did find it refreshing to see some new faces play well at times Down Under, but I think tennis is lucky to have several consistent performers with different personalities. I genuinely like watching all of the top guys play. My rooting interests are typically not going to see me pulling for certain players due to stylistic preferences, but I think typically all of the top guys have some admirable qualities. To put my biases out there as I always have – as a fan Federer is my favorite player to watch all time, JMDP and Nole are probably my other two favorites among the well known guys. I like Stan W. too in part because his game is a much much (infinitely) better version of how I try to play.

Just because I hit a single handed backhand and am not a grinder does not mean I can’t love Rafa’s crazy gets or Murray’s counterpunching. I just don’t relate as much as a player to how they play.

Dan Martin Says:

The Greek word “askesis” is the root of asceticism. I would check the etymology of this link –

“The adjective “ascetic” derives from the ancient Greek term askēsis (practice, training or exercise). Originally associated with any form of disciplined practice, the term ascetic has come to mean anyone who practices a renunciation of worldly pursuits to achieve higher intellectual and spiritual goals.’

I hardly look at Fed as being manipulative on court. Players almost always have a subtle (and at times not so subtle) way of interacting with their opponent. Connors always made eye contact with an opponent after he hit a winner, Nadal does his soccer sprint after the coin toss …

Swiss Maestro Says:

Nadal does his soccer sprint after the coin toss …


Dan, did you not get the memo that Rafa was humble? How dare you include him in the same sentence as connors?

cough! little jhonny is getting littler!

little swiss maestro? how creative? can’t expect more from a r@f@tard!

Dan Martin Says:

I should have said the root of asceticism comes from the same Greek word referring to athletic disciplining of the body but the basic point is that athletes need to have blinders and be focused in ways that awareness of the horrors of war makes difficult.

Swiss Maestro Says:

Jane :

Do you want to compare nole to tsonga, baghdatis and berdych who have losing records against Fed or with nadal and murray who have winning records?

If you are even decently strong in your head and you have the potential to be a multiple GS champion, there is no way you should lose to players 5yrs your senior in a physical game like tennis.

If novak was 23 and had to play nadal at 29 on a hard court, I assure you, you would not be thinking Federer is an easier match up.

Dan Martin Says:

I think at this point Novak has an easier time playing Roger for multiple reasons. The main one being Nadal’s form in 2008 and 2010. Still, I think Novak can (emphasizing can) pose a lot of problems for Nadal. His serve is much better than where it was at the US Open. That alone may have pushed that match to a 5th set. Rafa is the reigning champion at 3 majors and 3 1000 point events. He is a hard out for anyone on any surface. I do think the day will come when Nole and a few others (JMDP?, Murray? … are favored vs. Rafa on surfaces other than clay). Some of Dolgo’s odd action on his serve and ground strokes makes me think that younger and younger players with these strings are going to use the technology in ways that makes table tennis type shots more and more common. That alone could make predicting some of this much harder.

Swiss Maestro Says:

Talking about playing styles, that is definitely why I root for federer and not nadal. brazil and not germany/italy in football (sorry americans)
lakers over spurs. in cricket, australia over england/South africa.

johnny Says:

“little swiss maestro? how creative? can’t expect more from a r@f@tard!”

Your ego and arrogance don’t fall short from your idol’s. I’m not a Rafa fan, I just respect him for who he is, a true Champion (and a warrior that never cries) Roger can just dream of. And you are obviously just a crying Freuderer’s fanboy. Nuff said!

Swiss Maestro Says:

and a warrior that never cries


hahaha! really? who is a fan boy here? nadal plays tennis, it is not war. get it? i am not the guy who fantasises about my favorite as a warrior and not crying? you are lying. rafa cried in the 2007 wimbledon final. go check the facts.

johnny Says:

“you are lying. rafa cried in the 2007 wimbledon final. go check the facts.”

You mean like this?

Dan Martin Says:

I am not sure how a column about Nole’s psyche turned into a debate about Rafa and Roger.

Daniela Says:

Nole should be beating Nadal with greater ease than he is beating Federer…

stu Says:

thank you, Dan

Duro Says:

How old are you, guys?

Atp tennis Says:

Great Article.
I think that the main issue here with Fed vs. Nole is when they play it comes down to 1st Serve % period.
If Fed serves well he wins, if he is around 60% he wins.
Also he has only lost to Nole in 2 finals, never in the final of a grand slam. I think definitely in this match Nole played his patterns better than Fed period and Fed did not adjust. Especially to the hard crosscourt Fh to FH pattern that Nole was implementing…brilliant.

Should be an exciting 2011!

dAri Says:

Thanks, Dan. Cool article. As nadal is the measuring stick right now, we will have to see how nole does against him. Unfortunatley that sounds like a matchup that is at the expense of fed, so, if I don’t see it for a while in a slam, I will be okay. Nole on grass, I never really paid attention so I will be excited to see that!

dAri Says:

Is that possible?!!?!!

stu Says:

That might be a bit of a stretch :). He’s hasn’t been able to take a set off Rafa in 3 tries! Not to mention the people he lost to in the last couple of years – #27 Melzer and #31 Kohlschreiber!

dAri Says:

Yeah its a stretch, but its exciting to.see what’s possible with novak in this form. I’m a bit sensationalist, these things pop into my head!

Nina Says:

Swiss Maestro… you sound more and more like the player you idolize, lol.

skeezerweezer Says:


“How old are you guys?” hahaha :) “Classic”. I don’t know why but after scrolling down all the comments that one made me laugh so hard. No offense to SM or J it just was so well timed ;D


“I think Novak has finally matured, both physically and mentally.”

This sums it up for me. At least it sure seems that way this past year. For the Novak fans, let’s hope he continues to grow in both areas.

As of today, he has proven with his style of game he belongs in the elite on any HC. Speed, agility, mechanics, all have improved. Not so sure about the Grass, though. Needs to work on the transition game, and oh yeah, he could use some improvement there. If he continues to serve like this, whoa. He did mention a key strategy for him during after Fed and Murrays win was “stepping in”. In other words, you take ball the earlier than your opponent from the baseline you dictate play….and he did. When he gets in defensive baseline mode, eg; against Rafa, he can be beaten. But if he continues to be aggressive from the back court he has a very short road to the top.

JimboJones Says:

I wonder if Nole will be able to hit with Sampras during or prior to Indian Wells this year. Who is the best player among guys with 2 slams? Novak? Rafter? Safin? Hewitt? Kafelnikov?

skeezerweezer Says:


Easy one for me. SAFIN. But he is done. Novak is still playing and 23……

Mike Swanquis Says:

Here’s my theory:

mid-2000’s — Nole befriends Marat Safin

2007 — Marat Safin dumps Alexander Volkov as his coach

2008 — not wanting to sacrifice his friendship with Marat, Nole begins secretly working with Volkov, a master of mental fortitude on the tennis court in his playing days, to hone his own psychological skill set, leading to his current success

I fail to see the possibility for any other scenario holding water against this one.

billyb Says:

@ Johnny : you should check Nadal’s matches against Djokovic and Berdych during the World Tour Final 2010 to see how he can sometimes behave on a court. Two matches which took place only days after he recieved his first sportmanship award…
By the way, it is well known and well-documented that Djokovic, like Nadal, usually takes more time to serve than what they are allowed to. Strangely several players were sanctioned at Melbourne because of the amount of time they took in order to serve… not the number 1 and the number 3 of the world…

jane Says:

atp tennis says re: Fed and Nole match up: “If Fed serves well he wins, if he is around 60% he wins.”

Fed was at 59% first serves for the match at the AO; that is pretty much “around 60%” yet he lost in straights. I think age may be a factor, as SM has pointed out. But I do think the match up is really interesting, and often their matches are close. Occasionally you have a rout, but mostly, they are close sets that could go one way or the other.

Daniela says “Nole should be beating Nadal with greater ease than he is beating Federer…”

But why isn’t he?!!! I wanna know dang it. :)

Thanks to everyone who offered opinions to me on this, but I still don’t know why Nole struggles versus Rafa. More often than not, the matches can be really close again, but they almost always swing Rafa’s way (like that Queen’s match, for e.g.).

Skeeze, liked the way you put this: “When he gets in defensive baseline mode, eg; against Rafa, he can be beaten. But if he continues to be aggressive from the back court he has a very short road ” :)

SM “Do you want to compare nole to tsonga, baghdatis and berdych who have losing records against Fed or with nadal and murray who have winning records?”

I am not sure why you asked me this, honestly. Can you clarify? I just wasn’t sure why you have Nole and Nadal winning zero more slams in that post so I was curious.

Eric Says:

Dan, I see what you meant, but “ascetic” comes from the Greek ‘askesis’ meaning ‘practice’ or ‘exercise’ like you said (for example, the homework exercises in a math textbook are ‘askiseis’), whereas “athlete” is from ‘athlon’, meaning prize. So they’re not from the same word, although clearly practice makes winning a prize more likely. :D

Kimmi Says:

my two cents

aussie open surface was giving federer problem from get go this year. the temperature was very mild througout the fortnight . I dont remember when was the last time the temperature at melbourne was this cool. the last few year has been very hot for sure. federer himself said his shots could not hit through the court during the night. he was finding so difficult to penetrate through…as the match goes on the slower it became.

things become worse because Djokovic is a very good retuner, and great defensive/offensive player. I believe with age now, federer will always struggle against player like djokovic on slow surfaces.

nadal has not brought his wimbledon/USO game yet. I thought he played the best I have ever seen him play in these two tournaments. the USO he got a little easier draw but he was still very good. I thought murray played one of his best matches at wimbeldon semi last year..serve was clicking and the placemenent was very good too but still lost in straights sets.

We will see if nadal can bring that game again. so far i havent seen it since the USO. If he can, he should easily dominate clay and grass again. but can he?

Kimmi Says:

PS: i am glad djoko is playing well. Hope he can give nadal a big challenge. We havent seen 5 set thriller against top plays for a while now. (OK, USO federer vs djoko was one ofcourse). I think nadal needs those matches..its been too easy for him.

Kimmi Says:

sorry, off topic but dont know where to post it.

Murray and Novak playing rotterdam next week. WOW! these guys dont get tired i guess. Its only a week after AO….

anyways, i am very happy murray has put the painfull AO loss behind him. i was worried when he said he might take a long time off.

Hope he can get his revenge in rotterdam.

jane Says:

Kimmi, agree with you about Wimbledon/USO Rafa; that’s why I am not sure even Fed would’ve beaten him in that final at the USO if he had beaten Djoko. Because Rafa had that new serve, and he was just playing mind-blowing points. Plus, since he cruised to the final he was really rested. I don’t know if anyone could’ve beaten him unless their game was 110%.

But agree with you it’s been very smooth-sailing for Rafa, although now he’s injured. So who knows what will happen. I am curious if he can defend all those slams, or even two of them! Should be exciting to see. :)

I think Fed was also on a long streak at AO, with Stockholm, Basel, semis at Paris, WTF, and Doha, so maybe it was bound to end sooner or later, conditions aside.

Polo Says:

I have been over my stage of denial about Federer’s decline. Age is no longer his ally. I am no longer surprised when he loses. Each time he beats players the likes of Nadal, Djokovic and Murray, I heave I sigh of relief. I don’t even expect him to win another major. Each one that he fails to win now, makes the next one even more difficult. He will still be very competitive but the days when I was always sure he was going to win are over.

Polo Says:

I think that Djokovic is no longer fazed when competing against Federer. He believes he knows how to play him now. His next and biggest hurdle is Nadal. I don’t know if he feels strongly that he can handle Nadal. I have not seen it yet whenever they play.

sheila Says:

seems that djokovic is the new golden boy w/his win @ ao, but until ic djokovic win nadal in a slam my bet is on nadal. federer is almost 6yrs older than djokovic & murray & that is a big difference in tennis yrs. nadal will win french open again & my hope is federer can somehow win back wimbledon & maybe someone other than these guys will win uso. djokovic is definitely coming into his prime tennis yrs & i think he is a really good player, but until ic his results in slams as consistent as nadal or federer i wont put him in the “great” conversation yet. djokovic definitely has game, although i don’t care 4his personality. too bad murray is so passive, hes got a terrific game w/so much variety. it will be an interesting 2011 if other players do challenge nadal. although im biased towards federer, being realistic, hes older & not as consistent as he once was, but as i said, i hope he can win back wimbledon w/his variety of game & annacones aggressive strategy.

Kimmi Says:

Polo – Its very easy to be in denial with federer. i think i am. he is a very difficult player to figure out at the moment. yes, he is not 23, 24, 25 anymore plus we have seen how badly he did in the last 4 slams. ah, the moment we start to believe the end of federer, he suddenly play magnificent tennis he did at the WTF. WTF? he bring our hopes back up again…DENIAL comes right back! aaaaargh!

I ofcourse give credit to all players who have beaten him in the last 4 slams, he couldnt even give a big fight in these matches “sigh” (soda, berdy, djoko, djoko)..they play mind blowing tennis “but”… there is always a “but” when it come to fed now-a-days!

Lets see what rocky road we can travel with him till he retires..

Kimmi Says:

How does djokovic slide on HC? i think he is the only top player who does that. there was talks about him injuring himself if he continues to do this, i heard a lot of commentators commenting about this…but we havent seen the injuries. not for a long while for sure. His problems are other health issues but not injuries. which is very good for him ofcourse.

on onother thread i think it was jane talking about his splits. just amazing how flexible he is.
perhaps his flexibility is what is preventing the injuries. who knows. whatever he is doing, it is working!

Atul Says:

Nole is playing extremely well these days but still I strongly believe that age factor is the only reason why Fed is losing against Nole.

Polo Says:

Kimmmi, letting go of my denial has helped me a lot in dealing with Federer’s losses. At the same time, it heightens the pleasure each time he wins. I don’t expect him to win another major, but if he does (which is not an impossibility), the joy will be even more, or at least equal to, when he finally got his French. Unless, of course, that unexpected win is a second French.

skeezerweezer Says:


Good one. As a Fed fan what major would I like to see him win? FO. What a statement that would be. Didn’t Agassi do it at 29?

But his best chances? Wimby or USO.

Tennis Vagabond Says:

I will risk the enmity of the crowd here, but here goes: Nole is not, and never will be, in the league of Nadal and Rog at their best.

He may be a Lleyton Hewitt or Ferrero, a great player who can win tournaments when no other great champion is stepping up. I think Nole may win a couple more slams, but I would put his over/under at 4 or 5. In other words, closer to Courier than Edberg.

Somebody save this to bite me in the ass or vindicate me in 5 years!

Tennis Vagabond Says:

I should add that I like Nole, and have enjoyed his personality (though not his entourage!) since he came on tour.

jane Says:

If Nole wins 4 or 5 slams, I would be thrilled. :) I do not know who is calling him a “golden boy” or who has said he is in the same league as Federer or Nadal. I have not heard one person say that on this site. So I am not sure why it is even an issue. I thought this was just about Nole having reached a good point in his career. Sure we can talk match ups and maybe rankings, who will end up where at the end of this year, but I do not see any reason to even make some of the comparisons that are being made. As far as I know, Nole would like to one day reach number one, and one day win Wimbledon. That is what, therefore, I hope for him.

jane Says:

p.s. Kimmi, Clijsters can do the splits and kinds of slide on hard courts too, and she doesn’t seem to get injured either. Must be a flexibility thing.

jane Says:

Thanks Kimmi for posting that Hotsauce piece. :)

skeezerweezer Says:


All due respect but …”Nole is not, and never will be, in the league of Nadal and Rog at their best.”

I am not a all out Novak fan, in fact “Fed till he retires” fan am I. But is that really a fair analysis of a player who is # 3 now, and his best years ahead? I mean, when is his best? Now? How does anyone know? He is as best as he ever will be now and it is all down hill from here? Just sayin…….

Eric Says:

Tennis Vagabond, it doesn’t really require genius powers of foresight to say that Nole is not and never will be in the same league as Federer… Federer has achievements that no other player can even come close to matching. The only real points of comparison for Fed are Agassi (who would have won at least 4-6 more slams if he had (a) not been a mental disaster until he was almost 30, and (b) not skipped the Australian Open, his best slam, for half of his career), Sampras, Borg, and the other legends. Whether Rafa will end up in the same league as Federer remains to be seen. (Although it seems likely.)

What people ARE saying is that Nole has the potential to be a major, dominant force in the world of tennis going forward, Especially with this AO win, he has a real chance to overtake Federer soon, at least briefly. Frankly, if I were Joe Pro, I would rather play Roger than Nole at this point (on hard courts). Roger might, of course, give people reason to fear him again (as he sure did at the close of 2010), but it’s not going to last forever.

As a Federer fan, I obviously hope (and, to some extent, expect) him to improve on his 2010 results for the next six months especially, but in the long term Djokovic seems likely to take his place as “Public Enemy No. 1” on hard courts. Will he ever be as dominant as 2004-2007 Federer? Of course not – no else has ever been that dominant over a comparable length of time.

DC Says:

Djokovic was playing well, but lets not forget, the two main opponents he faced, Fed and Murray did not play up to their potential.
It would be hard for me to believe that a Djokovic in good form could so easily beat an in-form (or good form) Fed and Murray in a row.

As a 2 slam champion, expect Djokivic to perform better at the remaining slams, but it would be extremely difficult for him to win any more Grand slams this year.

He was lucky not to meet any inform top 5 player at the AO, which is highly unlikely to happen again this year.

jane Says:

Skeeze, it is true what you say. Also, no one has ended the seasons at #3 for so many years (4) in a row before, so Nole has been consistently trying to break through the duopoly, and he did hold number 2 for a number of weeks, as did Murray. But they are young so they could, potentially anyhow, still improve aspects of their games for the next two years or so.

stu Says:

how nice of hot sauce. these are the guys that should be winning sportsmanship awards…

Swiss Maestro Says:

How old are you, guys?


Old enough to be not stupid enough to bet 100pounds on novak and lose to a Roger fan. You remember that duro, dont you? Stop acting like you are some wise guy. Atleast I never lost money on Roger.

You are definitely behaving much better after that humiliation, my friend. You want me to post all your retarded posts about “in nole we trust”. You can preach us lessons when you and your friends grow up.

stu Says:

Thanks funches.

“As a shotmaker, the guy is the first player in modern history without a weakness.”

Huh! I never looked at it like that!

Swiss Maestro Says:


You said Fed beats other younger guys a lot or something like that, so I was showing you nadal/murray – 2 younger guys who have winning H2Hs against Federer as opposed to tsonga and co who have losing H2Hs. I was asking you who you want to compare Novak to? get it?

Regarding the numbers, as I explained, the numbers are as of today. We can update them as things move on.

jane Says:

Oh, didn’t realize you meant the numbers “as of today”: thought you were forecasting SM.

Murray has beaten Fed 8 times in 14 matches, all of those wins in 3 setters and the only surface they have played on is hard courts.

Nole has beaten Fed 7 times in 20 matches, 3 of those matches on clay (2:1 Fed) the rest on hard. I think Nole typically has gotten deeper in clay events than Murray so he has run into Fed and especially Nadal a lot more times. Nole has faced Fed in slams seven times, winning three of those matches, which is not too bad since they have been meeting since 2006 in slams.

Murray has only played Fed in slams two times, the two finals he lost. Nole has been on Roger’s side of the draw more and has gotten consistently deep in the slams since pretty much 2007. Murray probably broke through at the slams a little later, in 2008. Nadal is in a league of his own, even though he is their age, or one year older. He broke through at 17 wasn’t it? So he is a different case, I should think.

jane Says:

Funches, that article is pretty laudatory! I think I read that one, very true about still making due w/o a decent serve for half of last year. Just hope Nole has a great/consistent year this year, that is all. Would love to see Murray get his first slam too.

David Says:

“As a shotmaker, the guy is the first player in modern history without a weakness.”

His volleys are wooden. He has no touch nor creativity. His only idea of net play is a copy-paste mechanical BH volley that more often than not ends up in the net. His whole forecourt game is shambolic as regards court positioning and shot selection.

He is strictly a baseliner, a hardcourt specialist, a much-improved Davydenko, a modern Lendl.

Yet, to be announcing The Djokovic Era seems a tad premature.

Dan Martin Says:

I think Nole historically would be hard pressed to match Federer or Nadal. I do think he can win matches and big events. The match in front of him is the one I think he has an excellent chance of winning at this stage. I doubt he wins the historical battle with two of the all time greats, but he can win this or that specific tournament as well or better as almost anyone else for the next few years. At some point Courier was losing to Rios, Courier’s career is way out in front, but time is the one foe no one beats.

Atul Says:

Dan: time is the one foe no one beats.

Couldn’t agree more Dan. That’s what I am trying to emphasize….it’s just because of age difference that fed is losing all close matches.
After a certain age your body doesn’t work in tandem with what your mind thinks how it should work..

Am a big federer fan; so just hope fed rebounds by winning Wimby n USO this year..

Polo Says:

This is a tough time in tennis to breakthrough because two of the greatest of all time are there. Nadal is at his peak and Federer remains in good, albeit, not at par as when he was at his peak. For anybody to intermittently sneak in and win a major during this era is no easy feat. Djokovic and del Potro must be lauded for doing that. Djokovic is only 23. If he continues to perform like he did at the Australian, who’s to say that he may not end up elbowing those two guys at the top? I could not rule out completely the possibility that we may be witnessing the three greateast tennis players of all time, all playing in the same era. How lucky are we?

margot Says:

Wow Polo: I’m a huge Nole fan but I thought we were still debating whether Rog was the gr8est of all time and suddenly we’ve got 3, 3!!!!
Without thinking, have u 4gotten : Laver, Lendl, the mighty Borg, McEnroe, the extraordinary Sampras…..

Tennis Vagabond Says:

DelPo is back next week at SAP. He plays Tuesday. Also in draw: Verdasco, Monfils, Querrey, Hewitt.

Meantime, Nole has withdrawn from Rotterdam, but we still have Murray, Soderling, Berdych, Ferrer, Youzhny, Melzer and Tsonga, so a very strong field for Murray to meet.

Dolgopolov is back at the Brasil Open- a weak field, this is a good chance for him to prove some things.

Anyone know when Raonic is back?

jane Says:

David, I totally disagree with you that Nole is a “hard court specialist”. In fact, he was the youngest player in the open era to reach the semis of every slam. His weakest surface thus far is grass, but still he has been in finals at Halle and Queens, and two Wimbledon semis. On clay he has a masters title, smaller titles, and has been in the semis of Roland Garros two or three times. He has also met Rafa in the semis or finals of a number of clay events, losing only to him, arguable the greatest clay courter, or one of them.

I do agree that his net game and possibly transitioning to net is his weakness; he doesnt have Murray’s flare at net or natural abilities.

I dont agree that he “lacks creativity”. Nole was one of the first guys to change directions on the ball will utter ease, and surprise his opponents. His use of defensive lobs in the AO final was creative. His movement is extremely unique. He is elastic boy to Murray’s speedy boy. :)

So it is all in how we see it.

Like margot, I think there are a number of “greatest” players. I dont put Nole or Murray in that category based on achievements thus far. Yet I think they are both awesome and fun players to watch.

Go Nolandy!

Glad Nole withdrew from Rotterdamn; hope Murray wins and gets back #4.

jane Says:

p.s. Nole withdrew with a shoulder injury. I did notice that tape on it, during his shirtless celebrations. Hope it is nothing too serious. : /

margot Says:

jane: awesome and fun, yep :) I wouldn’t be surprised if Andy withdrew as well. He said in some interview he’d been away from home, kim and Maggie ;), for two months. Can’t see him beetling off to Rotterdam myself.

mat4 Says:

Nole, like AM, is trying to improve and mature under the biggest pressure that was. He made some bad moves, but three years after his first slam, he plays well, and is a contender on every surface and in every tournament.

He was able to play on his top level for most of 2007 and the first part of 2008. I don’t see why he couldn’t now. I hope he learned something about life in the meantime, and that defeats will not mark him so much as they did (the Queens back in 2008, Madrid in 2009…). It could be his year, and not only he is able to win more than one slam, but there is not one where he won’t be among the most serious candidates to win.

jane Says:

margot, yes read one article that intimated Murray might pull out of Rotterdamn as well, which would be okay too. Give him time to come back to full strength physically and mentally. He did seem to have something with his thigh in that Ferrer match, so wouldn’t want him to tear anything. But whatever he decides, wishing him the best. Apparently Soda is already there practicing; he won last year so has to defend.

Huh Says:

Cant believe the comparisons of Nole with Fed and Rafa has started, lol! ;)

Thank u Mrs.Margot for being the voice of reason courtesy of ur 10.23 am post. :)

Huh Says:

Johny: Stop your lame Fed bashing and Rafa-glorification.

We all know what a saint Rafa is, especially in comparison to Roger! ;)
Rafa would never be the great champion that Roger is, Roger is the best champion tennis has ever seen(and I m not speakin about tennis but personality here in particular). If there is any champion whom the most like, it’s Fed. Live with it.

Huh Says:

To be honest here, Rafa and Roger are without doubt great champions. But who is greater champion(person I mean) is subjective, let’s leave it here. And those in delusion that Fed is not a great champion must try to view things in a bit more objective fashion. Billions of sportsfans(not just tennis fans) love Fed for God’s sake, dont ya know!

Fact is(nothing to do with my perception): In Asia itself and particularly in my China, Fed is much more popular and has much more fans than Rafa, aagain to be honest. So no point trying to demonise Fed(especially praising Rafa in this respect). People need to realise that there is lot more to things than just what you see, be it with regards Fed or Rafa. Whatever, but my intention is not to insult Rafa(God knows I m nothing compared to Rafa in any respect, be it talent or heart or grit or humility), but if you keep bringing up the comparisons between Rafa and Fed just to trashtalk Fed, then you would be timely reminded the truth.

Anti-Feds need to give Fed the credit and Anti-Rafans need to give Rafa the credit as well. Whenever we see something contrary to this happening, God knows that only unpleasant situation would arise in tennis-x. Sorry, but only stating the truth.

Its the undeniable truth that Fed is a great champion n so is Rafa. If one doesnt know this, then he/she needs to know this sooner than later for his/her own credibilty’s sake.

jane Says:

Nice post @ 1:02 huh! Very much agree.

It is true Nole is quite popular in Asia? It seems when he plays there (Bejing, Shanghai), the girls really like him. ;)

Nina Says:

@ Jane 10.58 am

That’s a fantastic post and I agree 100% with it.
I don’t think any Nole fan thinks Novak can match Federer’s achievements in his career nor that they care of. I don’t need my favorite player to be utterly dominant, multi-slam winner and GOAT to love and appreciate him. I’m not a gloryhunter and I’m not interested in endless glory. I just want my guy to fulfill his potential, win some slams and become n#1. That’s all Nole wants too. I don’t think he’s delusional. Said that, I don’t think Nole has anything to envy others like Federer or Nadal. Achievements notwithstanding he’s as much exciting and interesting to watch as those two. And his tennis can be equally scintillating. I think we can all agree he’s a GREAT player and that’s it.

Nina Says:

Yes, Nole is very popular in Asia! Specially with girls who find him very attractive. :)

Catherine Says:

@Huh: thank you for your sensible posts! :-)

Djokovic was very impressive at the AO and the deserved winner as he obviously showed the best tennis of all competitors. But to start proclaiming the “Rise of the Djoko Era” right now… isn’t that a bit premature? It took him THREE YEARS to get his 2nd slam title, which already shows how hard it is to grab merely one in an era where *two* players managed to pick up 25 of them… Fedal has earned their spot among the GOAT-candidates, Djokovic still has a very long way to go. Sanity Please, folks. :-)

Growltiger Says:

Interesting article. I’ve thought for a long time that the wartime experiences of the Serbian players when they were children had to have affected them psychologically. This is the first article I’ve read that floated that possibility. I read somewhere about one family member (can’t remember which) talking about the family in the basement while bombs dropped. Add in the mix the fact that the whole world was against Serbia because of what Milosevic did.

Re the Roddick, Federer outrage(s) over the impressions, these two players have two things in common: One, both take themselves VERY seriously and two, both start grousing about the other player when they’re losing. Roddick takes it another step by grousing at and about the lines people. Federer however has complained that Hawkeye didn’t call the line right. (Actually I agreed with him; I thought the computer was showing the wrong shot(s).)

Nole mimicked McEnroe, Sharapova and Nadal — they took it as it was meant — good fun.

Novak was young and mouthed off back at Roddick which sounded churlish and childish. He should have allowed Roddick to look like a jerk. Instead, he out jerked him.

Federer is smarter than the average player. He uses gamesmanship (this writer is the first writer I’ve seen that picked up on that) more than any other player, but is so smooth and subtle that few notice it.

I notice it and that’s why I always root against him.

Dan Martin Says:

I think time is always an issue for champions. Benjamin Becker d. Agassi, George Bastl d. Sampras, Jaime Oncins d. Lendl at the 1992 French … I think Novak is a true champion whose record compared to other 2 time slam winners is pretty favorable:

He’s had a better career than Bruguerra and Johann Kriek for sure

Hewitt, Safin, Kafelnikov and Rafter all got to #1, but other than Hewitt I can almost be sure Novak has spent more time in the top 5 than the other 2 time slamers. Hewitt and YK won on two different surfaces so arguments can be made, but he is a player.

Maybe Novak beating Federer is a bit like Courier beating Connors and McEnroe at the US Open, but he is going to have some good days. I am not saying he takes over the tour. If Nadal wins three 1000 point events and the FO he’s almost impossible to dislodge at #1 even if he somehow declines on grass and hard courts. Federer has no declined too steeply and he will be champion emeritus until he retires or loses the ability to run. JMDP can get healthy. Murray may learn a la Lendl how to draw upon his best tennis at big moments. The big Canadian (Serbian ethnically) might show Novak who really is straight out of Belgrade. Who knows? I just think the past 2 slams along with Davis Cup bode well for Novak.

I also agree with an earlier post that Novak did bring a lot of that Roddick conflict on himself. Jon Wertheim said it nearly came to blows in the locker after the match and that seems a bit crazy on both of their parts.

Anyway 2011 is underway

Huh Says:

Mrs. Jane:

You would be pleased to know that Nole is very popular in Asia and in China and it does have much to do with the likeable personality and joyful character of Nole, just like you and Mrs. Margot are in tennis-x. :)

Polo Says:

margot Says: “…we were still debating whether Rog was the gr8est of all time and suddenly we’ve got 3, 3!!!!

I was just projecting, Margot. I am not starting an argument about Nole being including in the “greatest” topic. Nobody in his right mind will put him there yet. Federer for sure is in the category. Nadal, I believe, by the end of his career will be in that category (if he isn’t yet and to me he is). It was just wishful thinking on my part that since Nole has broken through that tough Fed-Nadal stronghold, he must be a force to reckon with. At 23, if he gets any better (which I think he could), I would not be surprised if he gets into that category.

Of the other guy you mentioned, great as they were, I will take the names of McEnroe and Lendl out. I will put Borg and Laver below Federer.

Huh Says:

I dont know why fans of some players are termed glory hunters by the other supposedly ascetic fans of other players.

Huh Says:

Ya r welcom Catherine. :)

jane Says:

To support your post of 3:30 Dan, and particularly this point “I can almost be sure Novak has spent more time in the top 5 than the other 2 time slamers”, I offer the following quote about Nole and Murray:

“Against the rest of tennis, the two have dominated. Already, despite having just one major between them, they both are in the Top 20 in career winning percentage in the Open era, ahead of such multiple-major winners as Lleyton Hewitt, Jim Courier and Mats Wilander.”


[this article was posted before the AO final]

jane Says:

Cheers huh, thanks for the confirmation re: Nole/Asia.

Duro Says:

Hey, Swiss Maestro, easy boy… Why all that bitterness? You and your Rafa friend acted like children, that’s all. “You are lying; no, you are lying. Rog cried; no, Rafa cried…” Come on.

I didn’t bet 100 pounds on Novak. It was 100 Euros. Plus, Long Live The King didn’t take it. I was man enough to stand by my word, attitude and opinion and offer it, as well as he was man enough not to take it. It was a matter of loyalty, of principles. I’m not afraid to bet my money on something I believe in. You cheer for the GOAT and yet, you’re afraid to. Stick by your own, or do not claim what you do.

Why would you call a fair bet a humiliation unless you wanted to offend me and all because you two turned to be childish and funny?

You call my “In Novak we trust!” posts retarded? OK… can’t help you, really. My friends here are all well grown up (not putting myself necessarily in that category, just for your personal satisfaction). Why are you offending them? I love my friends, I’m loyal to them no matter what and that’s a matter of principles. Have a character. Be a man. Bet if you believe, even if it serves only to prove your point at the moment. No passion – no life.

And by the way, do grow up. Cheers Swiss Maestro. Be worthy of the champ you root for. He really is SM, but you’re certainly not.

Mike Swanquis Says:

Nole can only dream of feeding lobs Kriek-style.

And you can run from my Volkov theory (posted yesterday), Dan, but you can’t hide.

skeezerweezer Says:

“Federer is smarter than the average player. He uses gamesmanship (this writer is the first writer I’ve seen that picked up on that) more than any other player, but is so smooth and subtle that few notice it.

I notice it and that’s why I always root against him.”

Oh I have noticed it, don’t mention it, and LOVE it. Why? You said it, he is “smarter than the average player”. If Fed seems to hide it so well, but, if YOU can see it, do you think he is the ONLY guy on tour who doesn’t use some gamesmenship “talk” before a match? C’mon man! ( stolen ESPN quote ).

I’ll take that talking gamesmenship anytime over the physical antics that go on, and no one is not guilty of that. Let’s see some highlights, and anyone is welcome to add on :-):

-Bouncing the ball 2 thousand gazllion times before a serve.( “Wake me up when it is over” )

-digging into the crack on your backside, then putting your hair back on both sides of your head, then wiping your nose, then touching and bouncing the ball afterwards, and, astoundingly with the same hand. Can anyone say “pocket hand sanitizer”? And the opponent sayin “excuse me….uh…, you want me to hit that? ” Your kidding, right?

-going on a “sorry ump, gotta go # 2 bathroom break” ( can the ump legally call to question
“Did you wash your hands? “. He should be able to do that.)

-spitting a big spit wad onto the court…..” oh….sorry… I thought it was a Grass court.

-more crotch grabbing than Michael Jackson ever did, and there is no ” Hee Heeeee! ”

C’mon man!

dAri Says:

Good stuff, skeezerweezer. Love the way you manage to put MJ in there.
Who’s the poddy break?
Roger is a phenomenally sweet smack talker. He leaves it mostly off-court and made an admission about a bathroom break during AO 10 with the shade.
As for growltiger- hopefully all these guys are taking themselves seriously, but AndyR had QUITE a sense of humor and roger is a bona fide giggle puss.
I would also love to hear of examples from you of people who complain when they are winning. No seriously, I’m trying to think myself…

Nina Says:

@skeeze… that is gross, you make Nadal look like some kind of brute with poor hygiene. Come on!
Rearranging his shorts/underwear is a tick and it is not dirty by any means, even if some might be disgusted by it. Obviously there is no contact with skin! That’s just a low attack at Nadal. It’s not even funny.
And yeah Federer uses gamesmanship that in the past I have found quite annoying and rude. That’s why I will never understand that they give him the sportsmanship award. Of course these kind of prizes equal popularity. No coincidence that Nadal got his in his better year achievements wise. It’s as simple as that.

Skeezerweezer Says:


Rog was the potty break :)


C’mon man, you think i was serious?

Da Joker; “Why so…..serious?”

All in good fun, I have no problem apologizing if it offended some, i tried to include everyone I have seen, not just 3 consecutive slam winner and nicest butt ( so I have heard ) on the tour :).

Eric Says:

You guys are too quick to assume that the kinds of things you’re describing as “gamesmanship” are about disrupting the opponent — rather than helping (re)gain focus, etc.

I just don’t think Nole’s ball-bouncing or Rafa’s shorts-adjusting are about the opponent at all. and I don’t think Federer’s antics were either. Even when he took that superfluous bathroom break and chortled about it to the press afterward, it wasn’t “I did it mess him up!” It was “I did it to give the sun a few more minutes to get out of my eyes and to give myself a chance to get focused.”

Wentz Says:

Dan Martin, well done! Excellent article! Thanks!

I really enjoyed the other comments as well. I’m really thrilled that I accidently stumbled upon this article and all the rhetoric that followed. Almost as fun as watching a good tennis match! =D (Although some of it was over the top, imo!!)

Love the game of tennis, love to watch a lot of the players but am a true Nole fan! Fedal is a beast but can be slain! Great time to be a fan of this wonderful game.

Atul Says:

Anyone who is thinking that Fed is using bathroom break to break his opponents rhythm should check out the facts first…
Even when Fed was up 2 sets to 1 in 2008 US open semifinal against djok, he went for a bathroom break…
People should realize that even tennis players are human beings who need to go to bathroom whenever need arises…it’s natural.

JimboJones Says:

If Nadal played a germophobe lol germ warfare… I do think Dean Martin did ok in this column even a blind squirrel finds a nut now and then

DC Says:

to all those who have issues with Nadal re-arranging his underwear – please remember, you were born because someone rearranged their underwear.

Skeezerweezer Says:

@ Eric

Good Insight and makes sense :). Too each his own to make it work for them, but ?

I guess it’s just me but I wish the on court rules were more black and white rather than gray and all that. We all here can see plain as day appropriate stuff and not but the imps ( oops…umps )seemed to be caterers, not officials, just my imo

Atul Says:

DC: your last comment @ 11.01 p.m. was hilarious

skeezerweezer Says:

JJ & DC,

LOL :) way to bring some humor into the Tennis world :)

Atul Says:

Did anyone notice that whenever Djok reaches the US open final he wins the next Oz open.. (US07-OZ08, US10-OZ11)
US open is a warm up tournament for him, it seems…

Swiss Maestro Says:


You are one to preach about childish behaviour and how one should act? Please! I dont have to insult you! You do a good job of showing your stupidity yourself. nothing wrong in losing a bet, but think about how arrogant and stupid that bet was? you want me to dig it up so people can see your foolishness in all its glory? I know better than to take lessons from jingoist nole-fan boys like you.

in nole we trust? one of the most childish slogans i ever heard. speaks volumes about you and your “friends”. here is one for you “noles-r-us”.


There cannot be any award bigger than the support of your peers and sportsmanship award is exactly that. Stop degrading it because we all are sure novak isn’t winning one of those ever. How do you explain Roger won the award in 2008 and not nadal when their performances should have meant Nadal should have won it? Accept the fact that nole can’t take a joke on him. Everyone in the tennis world were doubting if his injuries were being faked and A-rod presented it humorously. I can see the nole-tinted-glasses wearing people are yet to come to terms with it. I am sure mcenroe, nadal and sharapova found what a-rod said very funny.

Swiss Maestro Says:

Gamesmanship? As someone said, every player indulges in it. There are officials out there to take care of that. What is funny is when fans come out and proclaim their hero as the ultimate champion because he is humble. If he is humble, please show it in respecting the rules. why not show it in not communicating with uncle toni, instead of proudly celebrating it saying “he asked me to serve wide” or some other nonsense. This after being fined for coaching in the GS before it.

margot Says:

Huh@3.31 : thanx :)
Polo@3.37: those names just popped outta my head cos I was so flabbergasted by your post ;)
jane@3.56: v. interesting, must try and memorise and quote for my defending Andy moments
skeeze: I know you were teasing but …’ve never been indulging in a bad habit and found yourself caught on CCTV??? V. difficult to know where habits stop and gamesmanship starts. Think Johnny Mac, now the darling of BBC. Could he help that stuff??
Koenic commentating said Rog had asked him which two rules he’d make/break and he said do away with “let” and have a stop watch court side and enforce serve rule. Some folk here might be tempted to ban “bathroom breaks”…..hmm…might be nasty…

Duro Says:

Swiss, again with insults? You can’t express yourself without these precious words of yours, “stupidity”, “foolishness” and such? That’s the easiest way, available to anyone, thus not much appreciated in the world of adults. Anyway, it’s pointless to communicate with you if your anger prevails. Find the source of your anger. Maybe it’s in your dissatisfaction in “you are lying – no, you are lying” episode, or in your “communication” with me. I don’t know; just a suggestion. Anyhow, you firmly proved that you didn’t understand the categories I had posted above. You can find the answer and explanation of everything you don’t understand about my views there, but…

Now, since I would very much like to terminate this discussion between us, so we could both go our own ways, I would consider it as your personal favor to me, if you agree to it and we leave it there. Is it too much to ask? Thanks. Cheers.

noleisthebest Says:

@Duro, February 5th, 2011 at 6:55 am

Take a cue from most sensible posters on this site where Swiss Maestro is concerned:
1. skip over his posts
2. ignore him
3. in the event u find yourself unadvisedly ENGAGED in a conversation with him, let him have the last word

works a treat……..

Dan Martin Says:

Mike Swanquis – yes I do agree that Kriek was indeed the greatest lob feeder during the 5 minute warm-up period in the history of tennis. It is kind of funny that Novak and Kriek are the only 2 time slammers to win both Down Under.

As for Volkov well …

Dan Martin Says:

PS – Maybe you or I should write Wertheim about Kriek, he may get a kick out of it. When I met Wertheim in 2009 he said to me, “You have a friend who sends me a lot of good questions too don’t you?”

JimboJones Says:

About gamesmanship, Agassi used to always say that being Andre Agassi was worth 1 or 2 games per set against most players. If a mental edge is there, players would be stupid not to take the nerves, over hitting or under hitting that an opponent will throw in due to playing a legend. A lot of matches can be won in the locker room and that saves energy for a player. I think every player likes to try to get that edge on an opponent. Junior tennis is where it seems really obvious, but these guys have subtle ways of letting the other guy know that they think little of their chances at victory. When elite guys step on court their ways of letting the other know he can’t win might clash a bit more because they win so often and have the goods to back up their bragging.

Duro Says:

Noleisthebest from tennistalk? Hey bro! You’re quite a star there. Keep on going mate.

As far as my “personal war” with SM is concerned, I like to wage my wars alone. It wouldn’t be fair to do it 2 or more against 1. There is no need, but thanks anyway.

I think SM and I should be OK now. Extreme love towards our faves often produces such situations. Not a big deal. I like passion. Sparks are good from time to time. No easy losses when we lose to each other (Fed to Nole or vice-versa). Quite a normal thing as a matter of a fact.

Cheers and keep claiming: Novak is the best!

In Novak we trust! (Sorry SM, but live with it :-) ).

johhny Says:

Duro, SM is just a disguised kitchen woman Von – certified Nole hater and converted Roger fanboy.

Nina Says:

Sorry, skeeze, maybe I overreacted, lol.

Duro Says:

johhny, I wouldn’t know…

dAri Says:

Nina- I think I might disagree about nadal’s picking being “not dirty by any means”. the shorts and underwear they wear are pretty thick, but with all the sweating that goes on, there may be some gnarley stuff on his hands.
But he is mostly only hurting himself with that nose wiping business. Touching your nose after touching most things could be trouble, let alone after touching where nadal does! All in all not causing much more harm than annoyance, but would love to see thw microbiolgy of the hand, ball, amd racket after nadal! Ah!
I wonder who the tour germaphobe is?
If I only saw Rafa’s water bottle routine, I would say him. But between the wipes and the NO SEAT BELT, Rafa likes to live on the edge, health wise!

funches Says:

I love these people who always say you can’t compare someone who’s just won a grand slam to players who’ve done it many times before. By that logic, no one should ever write anything. Just compare grand slam titles and rank the players in that order.

The article was projecting what Djokovic would do in the future. Obviously his career to this point has been nowhere near as good as Rafa’s or Fed’s. That doesn’t even need to be said because it’s so obvious.

But I expect Djokovic to end this year ranked No. 1. It’s certainly no lock with Rafa and Fed still playing terrific, but Djokovic can win on any surface and likely will be the favorite going into the U.S. Open.

Mike Swanquis Says:

I heard Wertheim was going to cover MMA and billiards exclusively now, as tennis journalism is clearly your exclusive domain, Dan!

The Kriek/Djokovic comparisons can’t just end with their exclusively-Aussie success. Just look at the uncanny similarity of their hairstyles:

Swiss Maestro Says:

Obviously his career to this point has been nowhere near as good as Rafa’s or Fed’s. That doesn’t even need to be said because it’s so obvious.


You obviously have ignored the nole fanboys’ cries around this forum. As good as these projections are, it is equally clear that Djokovic will never enter even Rafa’s league, forget Roger’s. Besides, as I said before, this is a movie I have seen earlier, 3years back. Djokovic beating Roger in the semis and beating up an opponent who had more pressure than him in the finals.

We will see where things are at the end of this year. I will not be surprised if Djokovic does not win another slam this year and stays at his usual no.3. If that happens, I hope we will have no more projections if he wins another aussie open next year.

Nina Says:

SW, bitter some? stop with the BS. No one is saying Novak is the GOAT.
And Murray had more pressure than him? You must be nuts.

Nina Says:

I meant SM. Damn why there is no edit button?

Swiss Maestro Says:

Nina, STFU! murray definitely had more pressure on him than nole. murray is yet to play a guy who has made less than 3GS finals in a GS final.

federer played philipousis (add some lps approppriately) who was in his 2nd slam final. rafa played 1st time finalist puerta, nole played 1st time finalist tsonga.

murray played fed and djok in his 3 finals. you must be a blind-as-a-bat novak fan to say nole had more pressure than murray, that sunday.

Swiss Maestro Says:

where did i ever claim that people said novak is goat. If anyone says that, I will slap him silly till he/she comes to their senses. funches talked about projections and i told mine.

take off those nole coloured glasses and READ. remember, READ!

jane Says:

I would say when Nole played Tsonga, he had more pressure; he was by far the favorite after reaching the 2007 USO final and beating Fed at the AO in 2008, plus the crowd were for JoWill. So I think the pressure was on Djoko to prove himself. I think Nole maybe felt a lot of personal pressure in this latest final, to get rid of “one slam wonder” tag and to make up for losing USO final again. However, I think Murray faced more external pressure from the crowd, his camp, all of Britain, and then additionally whatever pressure he put on himself.

I do not think any Nole fans are suggesting these “great claims” that are implied. I read through the thread and i cannot see people saying Nole is as good as Nadal and/or Fed, nor did anyone say it on the previous thread. All people have said is that maybe, now, he has turned a corner and will truly be a force in the slams. That seems feasible, though we have to see if he can maintain form and consistency. So far he has been very consistent but not able to grab the big prize, until this AO.

That is worth being happy about. I think he wants to peak for the big events now, so we just have to wait and see if he does is all. He definitely seems more mature, whicb bodes well for him not repeating the path he followed after AO 2008 win. Hope he stays optimistic, and healthy.

johhny Says:

“Nina, STFU!”

That’s the Federer class style, his whiny fanboy is just projecting the real Freuderer image. Graceful in victory, sore loser in defeat. Curtain has fallen and insulting “Maestro” has shown his genuine character.

Give him another sportsmanship award for smugness me says!

dAri Says:

Oh, you’re falling into a trap yourself, johnny, trying to equate a tennis website commentator to the greatest tennis player of all time. Stfu is even out of the range of rofer federer. Don’t fuel the fire.
I see old Robredo won Santiago. Would have been nice for Santiago giraldo to have won the tourney in santiago!
As for now, yay football! (The US kind!)

Swiss Maestro Says:


are you an idiot or just pretending to be one? Stop denigrating the sportsmanship award because soderling and berdych put nadal in his place all these years. Another one for you – ATP fan favorite award for 8th time in a row. Too bad, r@f@tards like you can’t vote, because you and your idol have an IQ that is worse than a cow’s. hopefully someone will train r@f@tards like you to vote one fine day.


Fair enough, but 1st time finalist nerves are crazy. Look at djokovic in 2007 USopen final he gagged big-time in both 1st and 2nd sets. No amount of pressures will substitute that. You will need a dummy across the net like puerta to out-choke you.

People are just being dumb, if they say djokovic had more pressure than murray in that final. They have absolutely no idea of the pressures of public performance and the heat the british press brings. Serbian media is a dot compared to the gigantic british press.

Catherine Says:

This site could do with some Troll Expellant lately, no?

Peace, folks!

contador Says:

Dan Martin –

thanks, nice read.

really do agree with the way you describe the story of novak djokovic over the past few years.

have to admit i didn’t like his on court chest thumping, his box..and overall demeanor when i first watched him. off court i always thought he was fun. but he was a the dangerous villain for federer, rafa, roddick, or almost anyone. the one to beat in my mind.

he changed after us open 2008. maybe i changed. whatever the case, i found myself cheering for him and liking him. he seemed to have less bravado and was more respectful on court. but then his game suffered. the end of 2009 at basel, was the true turning point for me. he beat my favorite on his home surface and like delpo before him winning us open, i didn’t mind. i think novak found a balance. he toned down the mannerisms on court and was playing great tennis. then another dip in level came after a great fall 09, which had me believing he’d be #1 in 2010. rafa was suffering and federer aging – really did believe the turning point of fedal would be in 2010

but federer surprised me by winning AO 2010. then federer struggled after AO 2010. later, suddenly rafa’s knees were in good shape. and the complete domination by rafa started. having no expectations for federer and a new respect for novak, i was actually happy nole won the us open semi. i woulda been happy if fed won too. i simply wanted the strongest of the 2 to win. rafa already won FO and us open, facing an in form rafa with a new rocket serve to end points quickly was scary. rafa was unbeatable.

who cares about what i think but what i saw was a different novak djokovic. he beat federer in a GS semi, unlike the 2009 version of nole who i saw sort of fold. he did it all with class: the 2009 loss and 2010 win. but i thought he had too much respect for rafa in the us open final tho.

he’s conquered federer. (fed may try to change that) but it won’t be a passive encounter with djokovic again. now it remains to be seen what he could do in a GS final against rafa. nole is good on all surfaces. maybe he’ll challenge nadal at FO or federer again at wimbledon or us open.

actually, i believe he can do it…meaning beat both of them.

he does appear the best atm. and i say ajde! the ball bouncing is back but without it, his serve was off. i think he needs the bounces to regroup his thoughts. imo it’s a way better watching that than what rafa does to regroup his thoughts or whatever he’s doing, with all due respect.

now i digress…cant help it. the posts!! lol….

i don’t think either habit is intentional any more than schnoz blowing and wiping. it has to be done hahaha…it’s an “ew yuck.” but i definitely think a time limit should be enforced. maybe add a couple seconds to what’s already the limit but sheesh…really, the waiting is annoying, as a fan i appreciate the players that move along. soderling hikes his shirt up over his shorts above his butt but only on the 1st serve. 2nd serve he gets the job done, no hiking. most players do move along. thank god.

also excessive grunting is unnecessary…the type that gets louder with every stroke of the ball and interferes with lines calls…agree with navratalova on the grunting.

the end….back to superbowl.

dAri Says:

Contador- Duh! Everyone knows you cannot hit a proper first serve return with your shirt going past your waistband! Soda is fine, its the rest of the tour who has it wrong! :)

contador Says:

LOL Dari…”the rest of the tour who has it wrong!” agreed….

have you watched soderling? no muss or much fuss really but…

the posts just made me think of what he does on his 1st serves: he bounces the ball a couple times, reaches around the hikes his shirt above his butt, bounces the ball again and whackes it. if he has to serve again….there is no ritual. simple toss and hit – no matter where the back of his shirt is…. hahaha

funches Says:

One note on the Djokovic loss to Nadal in the U.S. Open: by the time the match got extended to Monday, he was more interested in saving himself for the Davis Cup semis four days later than he was in beating Rafa.

That’s not an excuse. That’s a fact. He cared more about winning Davis Cup for Serbia than winning the U.S. Open against a white-hot opponent who would have forced him to expend an enormous amount of energy to beat, if it was even possible.

Atul Says:

Hi everyone

queen Says:

Funches, sorry but your comment is plain stupid. Nobody sacrifices GS title for Davis Cup. U crazy? How do you know? Djoko told you?

Nina Says:

I don’t believe that but I was shocked when I heard Nole said after winning DC that it was his greatest achievement ever in his career, obviously putting that above his grand slam win. For me it’s shocking to hear that.

dari Says:

yes, contador, i have seen soderling! besides the strokes (OPEN, bird wing forehand) i have noticed the shirt lifting on serve /return, but he is pretty much efficient otherwise. i also notice a horribly uneven bow-legged gait. he appears to be limping often. one leg much shorter than the other?

contador Says:

soda does it all relatively quick. no complaints abt mr. dimples. and for having bow legs plus a gimp, i’d say he’s doing well in the world!

this is probably not the right thread for this topic but wow….i just saw the order of play for tomorrow in rotterdam. have to set an alarm, dari. could be painful. dimitrov v tsonga followed by gulbis and debakker…i doubt there is much hope for grigor unless tsonga isn’t 100%. but i fully expect EG to win!

moving to a different thread, dari.

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