Djokovic Withdraws From Paris With Ailing Shoulder, But $1.6 Million Richer

by Sean Randall | November 11th, 2011, 9:55 am

So Novak Djokovic was it worth it? Was it worth playing Paris to collect your $1.6 million in bonus money only to further damage your ailing shoulder?

Earlier today Djokovic did what he should have done earlier in the week and that is withdraw from the Paris Masters.

“Sadly i have to inform you that i have withdrawn from the further tournament,” Djokovic said in a statement. “I have pushed myself to the limit by playing, and after the match yesterday my shoulder got worse. For this reason, I have to put my health first and withdraw even though my urges as a professional player are making me want to play until the last drop of energy. I am very sorry for all of you who bought tickets and wanted to come and watch me play. My season has been long and tiring, I played all of my matches at my highest level, and now my body is aching for recovery. Hoping for your understanding and support.”

Put your health first? Where was that on Sunday when it sure seemed like you were putting your bank account first?

That said, I give some credit to Novak for showing up and winning a few matches but withdrawing ahead of the biggest match of the tournament thus far – he was to play the marquee match against JW Tsonga today – is a crushing blow to fans and the tournament who all looked forward to that showdown.

However, he could have simply lost to his buddy Troicki yesterday and given his countryman the rewards of that quarterfinal.

So on one hand you have to give him credit for competing but on another it did seem like there was no chance he could have won or gone deep in the tournament, so why risk it? Turns out it probably was the cash.

As for the greater question of his shoulder. It took him six weeks to get it nearly right for Basel, but now it’s inflamed again. And if he couldn’t get back to 100% in six weeks it stands to reason he won’t be ready in 10 days for the London finals.

And with the 2012 season commencing some 5-6 weeks at the end of London, might the shoulder still be ailing at the start of the year?

In tennis, shoulders are not something to take lightly. Ask Maria Sharapova, Tommy Haas, Jennifer Capriari and Michael Stich, all of whom had to deal with serious shoulder problems which impacted their careers, even ending them. Let’s hope Novak smartly takes care of his before it’s too late.

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62 Comments for Djokovic Withdraws From Paris With Ailing Shoulder, But $1.6 Million Richer

Tennis Vagabond Says:

Hmm. On the one hand, I think its disrespectful, selfish and immature to enter a tournament with the attitude that, hey, if the injury bugs me, I can always quit.
On the other hand, perhaps the tournaments are happy to get him for however much they can. Perhaps they even tell him, Hey if the injury bugs you, quit.
My gut doesn’t think this kind of thing looks good on an athlete.

Cbeast Says:

Berdych is such a loser(dirt bag).
I officially hate him.
Asking for new balls when down 40-15.
Come on! What a cheat!
Murray deserved the victory.

Hope he still gets it!

jane Says:

Get better Nole. You deserved the bonus for your amazing year!

jane Says:

From Jonathan Overend’s blog at the BBC, pre tournament:

“Common sense should prevail and the ATP should take the pressure off the Serb, winner of three of the four majors this year, by giving him a bonus anyway. Not the full amount but something as a compromise.

He has hardly shirked his duties this year.

It would set a precedent, and Djokovic has won quite enough money this year to sort his family and his friends up for life, so maybe put it to a vote of the other players. The result would be interesting.

As Federer said: “Normal common sense can solve so many problems in our sport”. It is not common sense for tennis to effectively penalise its star of the season.”

Blah Says:

cringeworthy typos. Anyway he needs to sit out until he fully recovers and get ready for ao. He can win wtf another year.

grendel Says:

Federer is playing worse than I think I have ever seen him play, but he still breaks back – if you can call it that. Monaco just crumbled in the face of underwhelming odds.

This court is like treacle – getting any reaction out of it is tantamount to going on a long crosscountry run through sand and mud.

steve-o Says:

This is a weird match. Federer clearly playing his B game, if not B- game, lots of shanks and inconsistent shot selection. But he has the first set.

Daniel Says:

Well grendel, maybe when he saw that Djoko is out and now Murray (who everybody were giving the tourney already), he felt: hey I am in the semis already, no way I am losing to Monaco, as most will agree. And this lost of desire took him out of his zone the last days.

But for the Berdych match he will be ready, no way he will want to lose to him again this year, specially since they can play again in London.

steve-o Says:

Or maybe Federer’s simply having an off day.

Brando Says:

Surprised that Murray lost. He was a set up and I thought he had the match virtually sealed. Other than his 1st serve %- as usual- he seemed to have everything under control.

jane Says:

Yep I was surprised re: Muzza too.

Fed is through now, so it’s looking like we may see a Fed vs. Tsonga final, which could be very good. Of course they both have semis to win first.

grendel Says:

good point, Daniel. I felt (unlike Peter Fleming) that Monaco was in control of a lot of the rallies in the 2nd set where he had upped his level, but he was woeful at finishing. He was within a couple of points of taking the 2nd set, and it was sort of weird. It was obvious Federer didn’t really think Monaco could beat him, but on the other hand, if he was going to continue to shank the fh and act as if his bh was a foreign stroke, the aweful possibility loomed that he might actually lose. (Incidentally, amongst all the shambles, Federer did some delightful volleys).

2nd last point before breaking Monaco, Federer went for a humming slice – and it did the job; whereas whenever he’d gone for a bh winner, he’d had no timing on it at all. And the actual break point was a donation from Monaco – kind of typical of the match. I get the feeling from players like Monaco that they essentially want to put up a good show; winning isn’t too high on their agendas.

Nina Says:

What a surporising and disappointing tournament.
I must admit I was disappointed at Nole. Not for withdrawing, but for putting money before health. A shoulder inflammation is a serious problem in a pro tennis career because it reappears every once in a while. This shoulder thing is nothing new. He had a similar problem last year and he couldn’t serve for the best part of 6 months. I hope Nole doesn’t go back to that, it would be a disgrace to this sport, imo.

And Muzza… come on boy, I thought you were putting it all together finally. I envisioned you as the winner of Paris and WTF. What a bummer.

And Federer… what was that? you said you were so eager to win in Paris for the first time but yet you still played as badly as you did in previous years. And that after playing a couple of superb matches. Where is the consistency nowadays?

And Rafa… did you have to skip so many tournaments when you’re not even injured? I hope we see your best part when you come back on tour for the WTF.

grendel Says:

The Murray/Berdych match was a humdinger. In theory, we had a very clever player – the cleverest on the tour – against a very powerful player, the smoothest hitter on the tour by far. But I think that’s decpetive. The fact is, Murray has power at his disposal, especially his serve, whilst Berdych is a player of underated skills. His timing, of course, is gorgeous – absolutely Safinesque when it’s on – whilst his touch at the net is admirable. He’s an incredibly good player who (as Federer has remarked) has not done his abilities justice.

I differ strongly from Brando – I thought the match was nip and tuck for a large part of the match. At no stage was Murray in control, whereas for about 5 or 6 games in the middle of the match, Berdych looked like running away with it. He just couldn’t quite keep going a very high standard.

The problem with Murray – at the very highest level – has always been mental, but the same is true, even more so in fact, of Berdych. So it was fascinating to watch the play from that angle – who would crumble first? Actually, I think it is unfair, really, to look at it like that, for this was a real scrap. Both players showed signs of weakness – especially a critical doublefault from Murray – but on the other hand, they both displayed tremendous tenacity. In particular, Berdych has reason to be proud of himself; over three hours, he never got down on himself evem when opportunities went begging. If Berdych could play consistently like this, he’d be a threat to anyone. But that’s been his problem. He beats Federer at Wimbledon, and then lamely subsides against Nadal.

Brando Says:

@Nina: I agree with your post.

1: Nole: For me since montreal in august his serve/ shoulder has seemed slightly off colour, so to speak. It seems to be an issue still, so who knows the REAL story there. The only truth is that he really should not be on court as it does not do justice to his incredible game.

2: Murray: This may sound ridiculous, but other than nadal and djokovic he has quite simply, IMO, just beaten players that he should do at least 80% of the time he plays them.

He has since monbtreal faced fish twice and ferrer once, beat them both. Not a tough ask for andy even when he is at 70% of his potential best on his favourite surface: Hard court.

The djokovic and nadal wins were the headline creating wins. Nole: Retired in that match, obviously hurt. Rafa: Lost his next match to mayer in shanghai, shows were his game was.

So im still not convinced that andy has improved to an extent that shall cause the BIG 3 trouble at a GS. He needs to win the WTF, IMO, to show that he truly is on the rise.

Otherwise, its more the same really. False hope.

3:Federer: He’s at that stage in his career where it shall be an up and down kind of thing with his game. Not a big deal i feel.

4: Rafa: smart decision. No point going to Basel ( he has never played there before at all) nor paris when your game is suspect- and that too on your weakest surface.

Apologies for the length of the post

Tennis Vagabond Says:

SHould be great semis tomorrow. Depending on Isner/Ferrer we’ll have 3 or 4 of the WTF Eight. That significance, ‘eliteness’ or ‘otherness’ of the EIght is really acute at the last tourney of the year. In Paris, Berdych and Tsonga and Ferrer seem much more prestigious than they might at Key Biscayne or Rome.

mat4 Says:

I am a bit shocked by Murray’s lost against Berdych. It seems fatigue (is this word a false-friend?) caught him finally, although I should add that Berdych is an excellent player.

Brando is perhaps right about his game, although AM looked great to me in Tokyo.

sar Says:

Tennis vagabond:
How do you feel about Murray withdrawing from Basel in singles and doubles after asking for a WC?

Tennis Vagabond Says:

Sar, I don’t think that’s equivalent at all. Murray hurt himself just before the tournament in some weird butt accident. Novak just lost last week because his shoulder hurt. He knew it was likely to trouble him again but said, what the hell, no harm no foul, if it hurts, I quit. I don’t like that. Again, I may be missing tournament pressure and acceptance of that attitude, but I still don’t like it as a fan.

Dory Says:

Poor Djoko. I feel sorry for this quarter of his season but poor guy has had no respite from constant play or injuries. Hope he wins World Tour Finals. That would be AMAZING!

And the Djoko haters will come out now with conspiracy theories on how he played only for the money.

grendel Says:

I am surprised nobody has bothered to comment on the Murray/Berdych match. It was by far the most exciting of the tourney. And Murray was playing very well against a player who was playing as well as he can – and that’s good enough to trouble anyone. It’s true Murray’s serve was not up to his recent standard – but that’s a problem of consistency which Murray has always had.

I think even if Murray wins the WTF, it doesn’t prove all that much, especially since the final is a 3 setter. We want to know if his attitude has changed sufficiently that he can win a slam. It was noticeable today, as things were getting tough, that Murray’s tendency to a very brittle sarcasm was coming to the fore. In a tiring epic of over 3 hours, that is hardly surprising, and it would be churlish to criticise him. But that is not the point. The question remains: does he have the calm and fortitude to bring out the best of himself against the best at the death? There is absolutely no reason to suppose so. But that doesn’t mean to say he can’t. It’s up to him to spring a surprise. But meanwhile, don’t anticipate should be our motto, I reckon.

jane Says:

Well I still believe Murray will win a slam, grendel. I don’t know why, but it is the inconsistency of his serve that worries me more than his attitude. He could be as grumpy as an old man and still win a slam, but he needs his first serve percentage up and his second serve to be a bit stronger.

Also, I don’t think, as you said on the other thread, that Nole’s great year was a one off if you mean that he won’t continue to be at the very top challenging for slams. On the other hand, if you mean that he will not have another year where he has lost just a few matches after the USO, then sure, of course. But I would’ve never expected him to repeat a streak like that!! I think he has what it takes to win a couple more slams. Hope so anyhow. He is certainly young enough.

Brando Says:

@jane: agree with you re nole. Cannot see another year by nole with only 4 losses- very tough to do once let alone twice. Also see more majors- 10 is the no. I think of when re nole final slam count. As for murray’s serve it could be that when he is feeling pressure, or should I say slightly ervous, his radar goes off for a walk, hence the low % of 1st serves I the big matches.

mat4 Says:


I think that it will be quite difficult to improve the serve at this age for AM. Lin, on essential tennis, believes that it is a choice Murray made: low percentage of first serve, but lot of free points.

It will be very difficult for me to explain, because of my lack of english, but I have the impression that Andy, under pressure, in tense situation, lacks of aggressive patterns. He waits for an opening, he is not able to provoke one.

Then, when I remember his lost finals in Australia, I had the impression he needed time to think of an attacking strategy. He started both matches waiting for errors (he played Roger’s backhand, and against Novak, he tried to deny angles and keep the ball in the middle), but when it didn’t work, he needed more than a set to readjust.

Although he doesn’t have an exceptional forehand like Roger, Rafa or Novak, I believe he could win a slam with his exceptional strength and speed, with the best backhand in the game, but his partial improvements, element by element, shot by shot – and not globally, show that he still doesn’t understand that when the going gets tough, he has to make his luck, not to wait for it.

RZ Says:

I’m disappointed that Nole withdrew. My guess is that having to play Tsonga had a lot to do with the decision. If Nole’s shoulder isn’t at its best, he knows that playing Jo-Willie in front of a partisan crowd doesn’t bode well for him, and he didn’t want to risk loss #3 (full-match) or #5 (including retirements) for the year.

Tennislover Says:

Grendel: I think Berdych’s power is more refined than Safin’s. Of all the power-hitters, his power is the easiest on the eyes. It is quite an awesome sight when he is unleashing those silky-smooth bombs. You stated his mental issues but I think his returns could improve too. The problem is that Berdych’s game just hasn’t improved over the years and I think his groundies have actually become more inconsistent. Of course, he’d be unplayable if he were good at everything.

As for the match, it was a thriller alright despite not being a consistently high-quality affair. There were many exchanges wherein the tennis was quite brilliant and I enjoyed the match immensely. However, I beg to differ about their levels. Neither player played his best tennis. The consistency simply wasn’t there even if one takes into account the length of the match. I am sure you have seen both of them play better. Berdych definitely reached very high levels on many occasions but Murray can play better than he did. Of course there is the match-up factor and you always wonder how much a player’s best is hampered by his opponent’s ability. One could also argue that Murray is a formidable player and one of the very few who can soak up Berdych’s frightening power and, therefore, it was a commendable display in the face of some scary sniping from the Czech.

This match showed both players’ strengths and weaknesses. Murray’s first serve percentage was not that great- this,as you said, isn’t uncommon- and his second serve was woeful. His returns could have been better too. Many of his groundies lacked the punch that we have seen of late. Again not uncommon and some of it was due to Berdych too. Berdych created many break opportunities with sensational tennis only to squander them rather lamely. It was almost as if he froze seeing those poor second serves which Murray kept feeding him on most of those occasions. Murray got fed up after giving countless chances and went ahead and donated breaks on at least two occasions to take Berdych out of his misery. It was quite bizarre to be honest. Some of these games went over ten minutes where one or two brilliant points were followed by an awful point. You’d surely agree that Berdych is much better at returning those dollies although it was good to see him not getting too down on himself. I think it kind of added to the drama but can’t be considered, on balance, very high-level tennis. The winners/UEs ratio wasn’t great either although quite a few of the UEs must have been forced ones. As you said the other day, tense and exciting matches needn’t necessarily be of extremely high or consistent quality.

Faeaki Says:

Having Rafa withdrawal symptoms! I miss dynamic and strong Rafa, the never say die attitude, I hope he can get himself back to where he was, been such a tough year for him.
I am not surprised with Nole, he is a bit of a Diva and after the season its not surprising his ailing. Murrays exit was a shocker but Berdych is a player when hot who can put you away when he is really feeling the ball well, not to mention that serve of his, an underated player indeed.

grendel Says:

Tennislover – I was actually taking into account the very strange surface in Paris. I should have thought it suited Murray more than Berdych – look at how he dismantled poor Roddick – and in the adverse circumstances (if I am right), Berdych played about as well as he could. Incidentally, some of his returns were spectacular.

It’s true the winners/ue ratios looked bad – but again, I put that down to the treacly surface (and perhaps those fluffy balls, which caused a bit of a rumpus). Winners have been quite hard to come by this week. As ever, the stats are misleading here. For instance, one shot by Murray (damn my memory – was it when he clinched the first set?)where he winkled the ball round the corner was quite wonderful, and Berdych got to it but could do nothing with it. Presumably, that didn’t count as a winner. Anywhere else, it would have been. I thought Murray played as well as he was allowed to. For instance, there were occasions when Murray did, as usual, soak up the awesome Berdych power but Berdych didn’t let that phase him, he just carried on hurling the thunderbolts, mixing these with some surprisingly delicate volleys – and wore Murray down. And yes, absolutely, Murray would deliver the occasional dolly, Berdych would stare at it for a bit as if wondering quite what it was, would gear himself up for a tremendous whack – and the ball would land limply in the net. But how often have we seen that – the easy midcourt balls which seem to startle the players (just about any) into ludicrous error.

The comparison with Safin is an interesting one. he’s definitely smoother than Safin and probably has more power. But Safin on a roll had something about him, an intensity perhaps, which didn’t permit error.

grendel Says:

jane, it is absolutely not about Murray being grumpy. There has been a certain tendency to self-sabotage, and we don’t know if he has resolved this problem yet. Some players thrive better under extreme pressure than others, and to date, Murray has not proved himself to be among the strongest. The problems with the serve are long standing – and yet I am told by those who know that his service action is exemplary (it’s certainly easy on the eye – he said, naively). This suggests that the distinction between physical and mental is somewhat illusory.

re Djokovic – I meant he is unlikely to have such a year again, and I doubt if he will show the consistency of Federer or Nadal. But of course he will be challenging for slams for many more years, and will no doubt get a few more.

Kimberly Says:

Berdych can beat anybody, no exceptions.

He can also lose to anybody, no exceptions.

Tennislover Says:

Grendel: Murray hit around 20 winners from the fh side alone against Roddick in such a short match. Winners could be made on this surface if he stepped it up a bit more. He could manage only 17 in such a long match whereas Berd had 40. Berd is the more aggressive player but Murray can attack too. Berdych isn’t the swiftest of movers. Murray could have used his variety a lot more to bring Berdych out of his comfort zone and to deny him rhythm. His deadly bh dtl has been missing in action. His tactics and execution could have been better. His return is much more reliable than his serve but he kind of had an average day there as well. I agree that you can play only as well as you are allowed to play but I still think Murray could have played better. It was not a case of sheer helplessness in the face of incredibly relentless high-level tennis from the opponent.I guess we will have to agree to disagree here.

I agree about Berd being more error-prone than Safin but, even accounting for poetic license, Safin wasn’t error-free just like his volleys weren’t “sublime” :-)He had immense power though. He could be way behind the baseline and still hit deep and powerful groundies on both wings. Very few players, if any, can manage that with any kind of consistency. In fact, he sometimes felt more comfortable stationed way behind the baseline than being close to it.

Kimmi Says:

tough loss for close in that second set, all that come back was in vain. berdych will have the confidence of beating federer before especially if fed played like today…

looking back at their match in cincy..fed was horrible. without his serve that much would have probably be 2 and 2. lucky fed took it to second set tie break. dont have a good feeling unfortunately

jane Says:

Murray just needs to stay aggressive throughout a match, and maybe that is his problem. He can get away with not being aggressive all the time versus most players because his defense and returns are so superior. But when he plays the top guys, esp Rafa and Fed, he needs to go for it and sustain his intensity. Not wait for errors from the opponent and not get frustrated when they don’t come, nor get thrown off his own game if he makes an error.

Re: Nole’s consistency not being equal to Rafa and Fed’s – just wondering grendel, do you mean at slams or in general. Because no player stayed right with Fed and Nadal longer. Nole was third ranked for four years running until he became number one this year. That is fairly darn consistent. And let’s face it: not even Fed or Rafa (or anyone?) has ever won 3 slams and 5 masters shields across all the surfaces in one year. Nole is bound not to repeat that, but if he stays up top for another 2 years, let’s say, maybe winning 2 slams or even1 in each, that would still be 6-7 years of pretty fabulous consistency.

grendel Says:

But Tennislover, Roddick was nowhere near as dangerous as was Berdych, in fact he wasn’t dangerous at all. Still, I daresay you are broadly right. About Safin and errors – I meant, when he was on which, sadly, he wasn’t very often in the latter half of his career.

Kimberley – pithy and to the point. Tsonga is like that too, isn’t he. Anyone else?

jane Says:

Nalby is a bit like that: beat or lose to pretty much anyone, depending.

Kimmi Says:

sorry for typos, “without his serve that much would have probably be 2 and 2”. should be “that match would….”

Nina Says:

Interesting article on Novak’s predicament, I tend to agree with it all.

Deceit and Entrapment: Novak Djokovic and the $1.6M Matrix of Cynicism

1. If Novak doesn’t play Paris, its because he’s saving himself for London – his shoulder has almost nothing to do with it. Neither is it relevant that countless other players both past and present have done precisely that under similar circumstances.

2. If Novak plays Paris, but loses his opener, he’s still saving himself for London but is now also a “low-rent” mercenary for claiming the $1.6M he was due for competing in 7 of the 8 Masters events – or, as Bodo would have it, for “brazenly gaming the system”.

3. If Novak plays Paris, but retires during his opener, he’s still saving himself for London, is still “brazenly gaming the system” by claiming the $1.6M he was due for playing 7 of the 8 Masters events, but is now also one that hasn’t the grace nor the class (both overused terms) to give his opponent the win they’re due.

Bonus hater points accrued depending on how the injury is presented: “his body always seems to break down” (opportunist ~2pts) vs. “his body always seems to break down” (wet behind the ears ~2pts) vs. a creatively insidious combo of both (~5pts)

4. If Novak wins his opener, he’s putting in just enough legwork to counter the accusations of “not trying hard enough” he WILL receive should he pull out or lose any one of of his subsequent matches. His primary motivation (as a low-rent mercenary) remains exiting the event both quickly and by drawing as little attention (censure) as possible. Needless to say he can’t do both and the more diligent hater won’t let him get away with it.

5. If he fights back from a set down as he did against his compatriot yesterday, he’s a showboating dickhead that’s cynically exploiting the opportunity of beating a flaky minion (one whose game he knows inside out) to present himself as someone that doesn’t shy away from a fight, no matter how much he may be hurting, and no matter how little is at stake. Again, the more astute hater won’t fail to avail the opportunity of satisfying the dual objective of both undercutting Novak and snarking on Viktor.

6. If he makes the latter stages or – God help us – wins the event, he’s an insufferable egomaniac that doesn’t know when to stop (the chip on the shoulder of most players from small Eastern European countries usually ensure that they don’t) and will in all likelihood pay the price for it in London.

This is the matrix of cynicism with which Novak’s every action has been evaluated over the past week – the handout from hell.

Its beauty lies in the arc it artfully traces between the two extremes of blaming him for one thing, namely pulling out to avoid further inflaming an injury(1) and blaming him for its reflexive opposite (6) – veteran haters are able to pull this off without the transition between (1) and (6) seeming too jarring, or even without anyone noticing it’s taken place at all.

Between the two endpoints lies a breadth of possibilities that is truly daunting and the real magic lies in predicting what Novak may or may not do and devising ever more creative means of undercutting “the good” and highlighting “the bad”.

What you end up with is a complex web of deceit which ensures Novak’s presented in nothing other than the most unfavourable terms, and from which there can be no escape as no stone has been left unturned. As a piece of legal, political and actuarial manoeuvring, it stands alone – you really have to marvel at its completeness and attention to detail.

Let’s be completely honest: Novak was gonna be gunned down whatever he did this week.

His pulling out after winning two matches is supposed to mean we can all go back to pretending he wouldn’t have got shat upon had he pulled out before the event began or, rather more crucially, had there not been $1.6M at stake.

And one thing I have learnt this week is that there is, apparently, a middle ground between the haters’ invective and the more conventional discourse around Nole’s injuries – this appears to be what most have settled upon.

There’s only one thing wrong with it: it happens to be a crock of shit. Elaborate, inventive, and maybe a little persuasive, but a hoax all the same.

Novak’s physical conditioning has always proved polarising – and yes he has sometimes brought it on himself – yet there’s something inexorably icky about the nature of the spite this time round as it seems to be motivated primarily by the question of money.

That would be the $1.6M bonus he was due for playing 7 of the 8 Masters events – something no one else was able to do this year, and a provision that, as far as I can tell, has always been in place.

I don’t think he should have played this week either, I don’t feel the need to go out of the way to defend his decision to do so and, yes, he probably didn’t “give it his all”, but we really shouldn’t be muddying the waters with talk of money.

And if we’re honest about it, it’s no different to what countless other players, both past and present, both journeyman and elite, have done (in some cases many times over) – only they seem to get the most lavish praise imaginable for “listening to their body”.

Only yesterday, Mardy Fish withdrew with a pulled left hamstring – a recurring injury that also caused him problems in Basel, an injury he would, presumably, have been nursing when he decided to play here this week, an injury that puts him in much the same position as Novak, yes?

If Novak’s a shithead for pulling out two matches in, then so is Mardy – $1.6M should have nothing to do with it. Or are those levels of winnings only for players you like?

I can’t in all honesty say I even find that much wrong with pocketing the amount he did without supposedly “giving it his all”; it’s not the epitome of principled behaviour, but it is increasingly becoming an unavoidable consequence of the more physical modern game – and, dare I say it, the length of the season. We’re going to have to find a way to live with that without casting doubt on any and every withdrawal we witness.

In any case, after the season he’s just had, I’d say he’s entitled to the benefit of the doubt. The same benefit of the doubt readily conferred upon more popular types – even those popular types that are actually guilty of “brazenly gaming the system”.

Read more: Tennis Is Served…: Deceit and Entrapment: Novak Djokovic and the $1.6M Matrix of Cynicism…#ixzz1dRcII8yM

grendel Says:

all sorts of things Murray needs to do against the top lads,jane, no doubt. The thing is, does he have the mental resources to do so? So far, the evidence suggests he doesn’t. That may change. We seem to keep having this conversation. b.t.w., and here I disagree a little with Tennislover, Murray was very aggressive sometimes with Berdych today, there were some marvellous fh duels which sometimes ended in a damp squib. Don’t think anyone can complain too much about Murray’s fh these days.

re Djokovic. Slams. Admittedly, I’m rather doing what you do with Murray, and am projecting into the future. But Djokovic has manifestly not been as consistent as Fed and Nadal in the slams, although he may of course overturn this in the future. I doubt it but – unlike with Murray, where I look to the evidence – that’s only a personal hunch. Federer won 3 slams in a year 3 times – I’d be surprised if Djokovic did it again. For one thing, he seems too prone to injury. For another, I just don’t think he is as good as Federer, and I am glad about that. As an athlete, Federer in his pomp has been by far the most glorious spectacle I have ever seen, in any sport. Beauty and success don’t always meet, though.

sar Says:

And the Djoko haters will come out now with conspiracy theories on how he played only for the money.-

Dory, they already have. Some say he’s greedy and selfish. Others said he couldn’t be winning without performance enhancing drugs or magic eggs and now he is a weakling. Where’s that egg when he needs it?

Kimberly Says:

Grendel—-gulbis nalbadian del Potro soderling but tsonga and Berdych are the best examples

Tennis Vagabond Says:

Sar- if you feel down from criticism of your favourite player, I have a medicine. Simply go to the atp website. Click on rankings. Feel better?

jane Says:

Thank you again for the post Nina. That sums it up. This in particular:

“And if we’re honest about it, it’s no different to what countless other players, both past and present, both journeyman and elite, have done (in some cases many times over) – only they seem to get the most lavish praise imaginable for “listening to their body”.”

It is amazing how many people forget Nole just took a month off. Maybe he is jonesing to play again. Yeah, he pushed it too far. But all in all, as I said on the other thread, Nole’s scheduling has been wise this year: skipping Monte Carlo, Queens and all of Asia. Mistakes: playing DC match after USO and coming back for Basel rather than at Paris.

jane Says:

grendel, do you think Rafa will ever win 3 slams again in one year. Fed is an exception, clearly. And Rafa on clay is one of the best ever.

Agree with you on Murray’s FH; it has become more of a weapon, and as the link mat4 posted shows, he also goes more down the line as opposed to typically cross court.

jane Says:

Mat4, good post on Murray. I think of the AO finals and yes, what you say is true: Murray’s real push versus Fed was on the third set. I remember reading that comment about Murray’s first serve percentage. But surely he could still make his second serve more of a weapon to compensate? Or too late?

grendel Says:

Oh, before I hit the sack, must just comment on how often Berdych went behind Murray, wrongfooting him. I don’t think I have ever seen anyone do that so consistently to Murray, over a spell of games. You don’t often see Murray look dumfounded as he races off the wrong way. I noted that later in the match, the tactic was not so successful, though whether due to Berdych not being quite so good or Murray being wise to it, I don’t know.

If Nadal is going to do 3 again – and sure, it’s a reasonable possibility if unlikely – it’s got to be next year, I think.

Brando Says:


Going forward, right now, nole has as good a chance as any of claiming alot of slams.

But really, if nole’s career were to end atm in time, then what exactly would be said? Being brief and cruel, i think they would say 2011 he virtually owned the tour, prior to that in 2008 he won a slam and the WTF.

Rafa, for example, since 2005 has won at least 1 slam per season and finished inside top 2 each and every single year. Only Federer and few others (borg, sampras????) can claim such a feat.

Nole has other spectacular feats, but really outside 2011 and 2008 all other feats can be matched by the likes of murray, for example, and noone atm is calling murray an all time great.

SO if nole can string some years together of consistency at the highest level of the game, which i think he can, then he shall be there.

He is 24 right now, and considering his game, fitness, rivals and potential rivals i think he has until age 28 to make hay whilst he can. 16 slams, getting 8 is doable, finsihing with 12 slams- could happen?

8-12 slams is nole’s range i feel, thankfully rafa’s hit 10 slams in good time. :-)

Wog boy Says:

All that I know, is that I wouldn’t be able to watch Nole in this state playing Tsonga. It is like wounded animal is trying to escape hunters. Novak is main prize , like every
#1 is, that is OK and that is life but after 9 months ( since DC ) being at the top of his game he needs rest and doesan’t have to give them pleasure of beating him when he is injured.
If he is not 100% he shouldn’t be going to London either. Good thing is , if he is short with points next year, he has when and where to get them, Tokyo, Beijing, Shanghai, Basel, Paris … He doesan’t have to repeat this year nor he can to stay #1, but it will be hell of the task, is Nole up to it? Yes , I think so. I also think that Federer is sensing that next year can be his too, it apears he has reason to beleive so.
I agree with Jane about Nole’s sheduling, just two things, he also skiped Rotterdam and by me , shouldn’t play Cincy, maybe that is where shoulder got worst.
I have to admit , i was about to record his todays game, I couldnt bare to watch, I said why ;(

mat4 Says:


I don’t know. Maybe Grendel, or Skeezer. Right now, I remember just two players that have changed their serve dramatically: Vilas and Nadal. But Vilas couldn’t deliver in big occasions, and Rafa has misteriously lost his USO 2010 serve. Djokovic attempt was a failure, two years ago. (BTW, I posted yesterday a link where his “Cheng” problem with serving was mentioned.)

But I don’t think his serve is such a problem. Nadal, Federer and Djokovic are.

Brando Says:

@Wog Boy:

I agree with your post re nole. Sincerely, i do hope he skips WTF, since the off season is too short and next year already seems to be on the horizon.

I truly believe 2012 will test nole’s abilties more than any other season. As diffcult as it is, getting to the top is alot easier than staying at the top, as nadal and federer can vouvh post 2007.

So he really needs to think long term as opposed to short term.

Kimberly Says:

Maybe I’m the only one but watched the replay of berdych Murray and thought itnwas a superb match, one of the best of the year. It looked very high quality to me.

Kimberly Says:

The match I’m watching right now, on the othernhand is not high quality at all, federer Monaco. Roger fans should be happy that he chose to have his bad match against a player who couldn’t do anything about it. I’m sure he will play better tomorrow and hopefully it will be a nice high quality match.

As I don’t have a horse in this race, I think I may root for good tennis and federer as I picked him to win in the bracket challenge. A federer tsonga final as I predicted with a fed win will be a nice ending to my year of bracket challenge losses due to picking rafa.

Michael Says:

Now it seems Djokovic played the Paris Masters only for that bonus purse although he suggests otherwise. He could have withdrawn from the tournament gracefully but he did not and he has disappointed his fans with this sudden decision. Agreed there is a possibility of his shoulder aggravating in the middle of a match but he was experiencing this problem in Basel against Nishikori and the fittest thing to be done under the circumstances is to take rest for future challenges with the most important World Series Masters following this tournament. What a year he would if he is to win the World Series too. But now that seems to be at jeopardy. I hope he recovers soon enough to be fit to play.

jane Says:

Michael, I hope he recovers soon too.

As to whether or not you are right when you say “[Djokovic] has disappointed his fans”, I would offer that judging by the comments on his website, most of Nole’s fans are happy he gave Jo the walkover and didn’t play, as no one wants to see him play whilst seriously hurting. Most seem to feel it was justified and worthy giving it a go, trying to play at the last Masters of the year: most assert that he deserved his bonus, given his astounding season.

How do you feel about Fed’s chances versus Berdych tomorrow?

margot Says:

Enjoyed (?) the match very much, even though Andy lost….it was a thriller!
Also, really enjoyed reading the comments here, they are all thoughtful and interesting so thanx folks. I also with Mat4 and Tennislover about Andy.
Andy was below par and Berdych was above par I’d say. I don’t think Andy felt top fit and when that happens tension comes into his game and his serve goes AWOL. Long term Andy watchers know, almost from the first serve, what is the likely outcome of the match, certainly against top 10 players.
That being said, Andy was right to get annoyed by the ref’s decision to suddenly allow 3 new balls mid way in Berdych’s serve. Gave B. an advantage as he was losing that serve, and put Andy off. Don’t think that’s an example of Andy’s mental flakiness or self sabotage at all, think he should’ve called the tournament umpire myself!
I saw Rafa get equally annoyed by a poor decision at O2 last year.
Was cheered by that match and not at all despondent. Andy gave Birdych a run for his money, in spite of not playing his best, who could be upset about that?
As for Nole, damned if he does, damned if he doesn’t. He has nothing to prove. Ignore, is best.

alison hodge Says:

margot saw the 1st set looked liked a cracker,missed the rest as i had to go to work,unfortunatly he lost anyway,so dissapointed,as i was looking forward to a andy fed semi still not to be on this occasion,hopefully this will give him added motivation ahead of the wtf,as for the rest rafa will be well rested and fresh,roger will be on a high should he win paris,the question mark will be nole will he play, if so what shape will he be in, regardless of whatever he chooses to do next,he has nothing left to prove and certainly nothing to be ashamed of,and deserves full credit for such an amazing year.

grendel Says:

mrgot – the self-sabotage I was referring to had nothing to do with the ball rumpus. He has a history of it, mainly in the slams – and that’s where it counts. Of course, he may resolve it. Remains to be seen – but long laid habits of character tend to re-emerge in situations of extreme pressure.

If you knew the outcome of that match from the first ball, then you should take over from Mystic Meg. It was real topsy turvy stuff, with first one man, then another, looking like he’d take it. I agree with Kimberley, it was very high quality tennis. I don’t think you can excuse Murray on grounds of some minor niggle – as he himself constantly says, every tennis player has niggles of one sort or another all the time. Also – re tension, both players succombed to it from time to time. At some critical moments Berdych’s arm froze, and I was frankly surprised he held it together at the death. And b.t.w., to say that Berdych played above par may be true (in the sense that he so often disappoints), but another way of looking at it is to say that yesterday, he did some justice to his immense gifts, and there could actually be more to come – theoretically.

“noone atm is calling murray an all time great.” Actually, Peter Fleming did exactly that yesterday when referring to the top 4. Admittedly, Murray wasn’t singled out – but he wasn’t excluded, either. In terms of sheer talent, I am sure Murray will always be remembered as one of the very best.

Contemperory Says:

So much for the biggest year in tennis career. The year about which even Sampras was telling that it is the best year he has seen in terms of monopolies. Actually speaking, I see that Djoko is having been starring in the headlines for whatever reason it could be – e.g. Injury, withdrawal, prize money etc, not to mention the achievements. While it is a truly remarkable year, I tend to disagree with Sampras and many others who say that Djoko has the best ever season. The number of matches played will be lesser than Johnny Mac and Fed, let alone the number of matches lost.

Kimberly Says:

From what I saw on the ball incident three new balls were introduced but Berdych didn’t actually hit one until he had already recovered to deuce. They play with nine balls, Berdych complained at 15-40, they entered three new balls in the rotation in 30-40, but threw them to the ball kids, Berdych had two in his pocket and did not actually hit one of the new ones until Deuce.

Not sure whether there was merit to Berdych’s request or Andy’s complaint. Both of their second serves where kicking up high but some of their other shots took bounces that would lead one to believe the balls were soft. I guess only the players and the refs know for sure! I certainly thought the warning for Murray was a little overdone, I have seen players do way worse and get no warning.

margot Says:

Well, grendel, not “mystic Meg” but when his first serve percentage is below 50% then Andy fans run for cover, especially against top 10.
And you can usually tell from the first service game.

Tennislover Says:

Grendel: I brought in the Roddick match to suggest that winners could be made on this surface. I understand the difference between Berd and Roddick at the moment. Federer made 32 winners today although Berd may have been sore from yesterday’s efforts. Tsonga had 60 and even Isner had quite a few.

“Don’t think anyone can complain too much about Murray’s fh these days.”

Well I still do. Your point is valid if we take Murray’s fh of even a year ago. However it still isn’t second nature to him and he still can’t generate much power on his awkward-looking “normal” or “regulation” cross-court fh. He can generate astonishing power on the dtl, inside-in/out and the cross-court on-the-run/stretch fh. The cross-court on-the-run/stretch fh has always been there with Murray and is one of his strengths. This is the shot which he used in those fh exchanges you alluded to. All other kinds of fh I listed were rather off-color compared to Tokyo and Shanghai. He was hitting some brilliant inside-out bh(almost as a substitute for his normal fh) in that Asian stretch and his bh in general and his bh dtl in particular were average yesterday.

I hope I haven’t irritated you too much if I sound like taking credit away from Berd. I don’t mean to do it. I like his big game and am astonished by that smooth power delivery. As I said the other day, he seemed to have Safin-like potential when he first came on the scene.

“As an athlete, Federer in his pomp has been by far the most glorious spectacle I have ever seen, in any sport. Beauty and success don’t always meet, though.”

Couldn’t agree more.

“ often Berdych went behind Murray, wrongfooting him.”

Yes, it was indeed impressive given Murray’s sense of anticipation and reading of the game.

“In terms of sheer talent, I am sure Murray will always be remembered as one of the very best.”

Again, I couldn’t agree more. I was watching the Roddick match and, despite Roddick being out of sorts, it still was a fabulous display. Some of the stuff Murray did reminded me of Federer in his prime. Knifing slices, fh dtl taken on the half-volley from the baseline, some brilliant touch….You could see the gifts and that is why one feels so disappointed that he is not a multiple-slam winner yet. Nadal and Djokovic, with lesser gifts, are much more effective.

WTF Says:

I don’t blame Nole for taking the money. I would have done the same.

I just find him disingenuous, his reasons given for playing. Most people are disingenuous when they skip a tournament saying they have an injury of some sort. He’s the exact opposite. He has an injury and a legitimate excuse for not playing, but he showed up for the money.

In the end, it’s his decision and when 1.6 million is at stake, it’s a much easier to make.

Michael Says:

Jane, I am sorry I was not able to respond to your posting. Do you believe that Djokovic will be fully fit for the World Series finals ? I have my own doubts on that. All the blame must go to Djokovic and his Team who should have actually skipped the BASEL tournament. As Sean rightly said I am extremely worried about that shoulder injury problem, it is really serious. Tennis today needs Djokovic badly. What a competitor he is ? Ofcourse he deserves every bit of penny he has earned but my point is that he could have exercised more restraint and been wise in skipping Paris Masters. Nevertheless, I hope for the best for Djokovic. He definitely is my favourite player next to Federer and before Nadal.

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