Novak Djokovic Withdraws From Home Belgrade Tournament

by Staff | April 25th, 2012, 10:15 am

World No. 1 Novak Djokovic has officially withdrawn from the Serbian Open in Belgrade which begins next week. Djokovic and his family suffered the loss of his grandfather last Thursday.

“After consulting with my family, I’ve made a decision not to take part in the tournament this year. I will take some time, try restore my emotional energy. This is certainly one of the toughest decisions in my career, but it is impossible for me to play in the next few days and to think about tennis, when there are some other things in my head,” Djokovic said.

Novak’s uncle, Goran Djokovic, is the tournament director for the Belgrade event.

The Serb is expected to resume his season in two weeks time at the Madrid Open.

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49 Comments for Novak Djokovic Withdraws From Home Belgrade Tournament

jamie Says:

Wise choice.

jane Says:

Sad, but yeah, probably a wise choice.

jake Says:

Yeah it is sad not only for him but for those tennis fans in belgrade expecting him.
I wonder though as to why is this considered one of the toughest decision in his career.

skeezerweezer Says:

Take care Nole. Well this proves without a doubt how this affected his play in MC. Hope he takes off all the time he needs.

jake Says:

Nadal was a better tennis last Sunday and that’s it.

skeezerweezer Says:

^ well it wouldn’t take long for the insecurity of the Rafa Loves came out. Of course Rafa deserved the title, he earned it, and not his fault that Nole’s family member passed on during the tourney. I thought this was already discussed for a week?!

But for Nole’s side, I totally understand. When someone you love so dearly leaves you, it can consume all that you are during that time and playing a game of Tennis seems trivial to the moment in time where you have lost someone forever on this earth. Eat crow dude!

jane Says:

jake, maybe because it’s a “home” event and he loves to play there?

nadalista posted a very good link on another thread about Nadal’s new tactics against Nole (via the ATP site). I think these were no doubt a definite factor, perhaps the main factor, in the outcome. Maybe too Nole’s emotions came into play after losing the first set? It always takes two to tango.

In any case, Rafa won fair and square, and Nole should use this time to regroup emotionally, but also to revisit tapes of that match to review Rafa’s strategies.

Interesting to see how these two rivals will approach upcoming matches – it’s what makes rivalries so compelling, how the players drive each other to improve and seek new tactics.

Humble Rafa Says:


I love your passion for me and my style of play. But the name Nadalista is gangster-like. But your Highness is very Humble.

Kimmi Says:

wise decision indeed. take couple of weeks off. regroup, and come back in Madrid.

alison hodge Says:

Nole said on teletext this morning that it was one of the hardest things he had to do by pulling out of playing belgrade,but ATM he cannot think about playing tennis,because he has other things going on in his life,a wise decision i think,rest up Nole and come back soon,we all miss watching you play.

Ajet Says:

good choice. no need to hurry up just to accumulate cheap points nor he needs to live his life for making his countrymen happy for the short term! thus it’s wise of him to pull out. i think his countrymen will be better off with nole saving his best for the biggest events and winning there rther than jeopardising himself by overplaying at petty tourneys. it’s better for the serbians if nole wins FO and will bring more glory, instead of winning a small serbian open.

Djokowins Says:

Sometimes personal issues of a player could provide an opening to the opponent or the rival, its not uncommon.

Rafa was on the receiving end when Federer took advantage of Rafa’s injury and personal issues and went on to complete the career grandslam.

Its all part of the game.

Ajet Says:

”Rafa was on the receiving end when Federer took advantage of Rafa’s injury and personal issues and went on to complete the career grandslam.”

hmm, it was the health and age issues of federer rather from which nada has benefitted much more than the othr way round. In fact if fed was playing like the prime fed (of 2004-07) even in 2008 and not hampered by mono(due to which he was denied some invaluable practice and his confidence took a blow), then nadal’d certainly have not won 2008 WIM, in the first place. it’s surprising thus, how people just see one side of a matter.

Polo Says:

Such is life. You take what is handed you. And when a gift is offered, make sure that you are prepared to grab it. Only the gifted, hardworking and persevering can get to the top because they are prepared and ready to get in as soon as a gate opens up.

allcourt Says:

What?!?! Why didn’t he pull out of Monte Carlo last week if the death of his grandfather affected him so deeply? That would have been totally understandable.

jane Says:

^ Perhaps because he’d already started playing the tournament, so he finished what he started. Perhaps he didn’t realize at the time how emotionally draining it would be as he was playing; maybe only after the tournament finished did it really hit him. See that’s the thing about grief – no one really experiences it the same as the next person.

“…if the death of his grandfather affected him so deeply” – If? Really?

Kimberly Says:

Everyone’s grief process is different. After my grandfather passed away, we had the service and then went back to their condo where my grnadmother opened his closet and started agressively offering his clothing to younger male relatives during the reception. When we tried to stop her my cousin who is a psychologist said that was how she was dealing with the loss and we had to let her alone even though it was really embarrassing.

roy Says:

the reason he kept playing in monte was because he thought he could beat nadal. his level was actually very good in the berdych match if anybody cared to watch it. berdych was playing great, taking down murray the match before.
and djoker took care of business relatively easily.

he also wasn’t playing badly at the beginning of the nadal match. let’s not pretend he wasn’t competing/winning rallies etc. nadal was just playing better than in any of their recent matches including australia. clearly djoker wasn’t prepared to go the distance with nadal after getting behind. and perhaps threw in the towel. that’s a sign of old novak rearing up.

anyway, if he’d got ahead in the nadal match and ending up carrying on, well i’m sure he would have won the tournament ‘for his grandfather’ and used the death as ‘inspiration’.

Brando Says:

Did not see this thread initially. My thought’s on this topic from the other thread:

Personally, i am ambivalent on his decision here.


1- He has more r and r time going forward. Hence, saves energy for the FO.
2- More time with the family to overcome loss of grandfather- clearly he was close to him.


1- FACT is he did play at MC- and his tennis was patchy. Playing in Madrid- which will be a surprise teritory for everyone- may not be the best place to work on his game.

2- i LIKED WOG BOY’S argument that playing SO in front of home fans could actually help nole RECOBVER- get some positive energy back again.

3- This loss MUST BE GREATER than initially some thought- at least myself. Nole has struck me-always- as a very honest person. if he says he is affected by this loss to great extent, then his comeback could be diffcult considering his state and the competition out there.

ULTIMATELY, time shall tell- nonetheless get well soon nole!

jane Says:

roy, while I agree with you on a couple points, that Nole probably hoped to win the tournament – after all why wouldn’t he hope and try for that? – and that he played a good first set in the final overall. Heck, he’s lost sets like that to Rafa before and come back (IW and Miami last year). However, I don’t agree that the “old Novak” reared up and I don’t think your comments about “using” his grandfather’s death are quite right. Many players in tennis and other sports have dedicated a win to someone who has passed away and whom they want to remember. There is nothing bad about it in my opinion. My take is that he was honestly drained from the emotions he was trying to contain during the week. It’s exhausting to try to focus at work when a person is dealing also with personal issues, and it can lead to meltdowns. He probably couldn’t “dig deep” on this particular day. Add to that that he was also not playing well in the second set, hitting too many errors, not being patient etc. That happens to players too. It wasn’t like he gave up; he kept trying to fight, and even got a break back late in the second. I wouldn’t say Fed gave up at the FO 08, or Rafa gave up at the WTF versus Fed and so on. Sometimes a player is “off” his game (for whatever reason) while the other one is “on” his game, and thus we see these lopsided results from time to time.

It doesn’t really matter. Nole chose to play. Rafa was better and he won. Now Nole is taking some time to regroup, and there is nothing wrong with that in my opinion.

Brando Says:

‘ Now Nole is taking some time to regroup, and there is nothing wrong with that in my opinion.’

AGREED. This is tough for him, BUT it is a fact of life that everyone at some point has to deal with sadly- the loss of a loved one.

BOTTOMLINE IS- with time im sure he’ll overcome it. Let him be for now.

skeezerweezer Says:


Absolutely. Nole has lost the first set countless times and worked his way back in a match and won. When a guys gut is torn up, you can’t dig deep, simple as that. Rafa Loves don’t want to hear it, and that the excuse train is inconceivable. But when Rafa gives excuse every time its “out of bounds” and not applicable…

Nole WILL be back…and with a point to prove. Look out.

carlo Says:


I agree with most of your post, adding that at the start of the tournament he was looking good and I would guess he thought he could win MC. But imo, Djokovic wasn’t quite himself at Indian Wells, nor in Miami, though he won Miami. He hasn’t been at his 2011 “streak” best. I suspect his grandfather has been in his mind – someone you love so much, their body giving out, it’s never far from your mind. The distraction is normal.

The sentence I disagree with is this: ” that’s a sign of old novak rearing up.”

That is, if you mean the old Novak of 2009 -2010 prior to beating Federer at US Open and winning Davis Cup, I respectfully disagree. How long it will take for him to come to terms with the vivid memories, loss, and actually do what he thought he could do after beating Berdych and remaining at MC, going into the final with Nadal, who knows? But I don’t see this as a permanent regression. He has to adjust, grieve over the loss, as I said, not everyone is lucky enough to have, or to even comprehend a close bond, more like the strength of a favorite parent bond, or the love of your life, with a grandparent.

Though Nole has been through a lot in in young life, but he, himself, said he had not had this feeling before – meaning such a deep bond now gone. It’s a shock to the entire body and mind.

As I say this, I’m not taking away the win from Nadal. A win is a win. Nadal is playing well. I watched both of them through their matches = IW, Miami, MC. And picked Nadal to win MC. I picked Nadal not knowing if Nadal’s knees would have enough time to heal. But I do believe he was more focused on clay season and believe he has real problems and stresses over his knees. He did make a remarkably fast recovery after Miami and the injections. He has remarkable powers of recovery and I’m not saying that facetiously; just very curious to know what exactly he is receiving, but can’t find explicit details on the injections, additives, ect.

At any rate, I’d guess Nadal is now off to a flyer and I’d pick him to win another FO, whereas after AO, I was picking Djokovic.

Not comparing divorce to death of Nole’s beloved grandpa, but I also think the trouble with his parents threw Nadal off in 2009; probably just enough to disrupt his routine and set him up for his knee problems as well, and then missing Wimbledon. Really, it took him until spring 2010 to get it all right again: body and mind, that’s my opinion. If you look at his ATP ranking graph, it shows.

But I don’t do asterisks. Nadal won MC his 8th time, fair and square. Federer won Madrid 2009. Soderling won a 5 set clay match v Nadal at FO. Delpo beat both Nadal and Federer US Open 2009. Stuff happens behind the scenes which alters shifts the edge. And it’s is a fine margin. This is a temporary set-back for Nole but who knows how long if will take him to turn this into a positive, truly. Maybe it’s weeks, maybe months…no way of telling yet. Those closest to him will be doing all they can, that’s what is known.

I’m pulling for him to be strong enough to turn it around at least by the Olympics.

Lulu Iberica Says:

Only time will tell what Djokovic can do going forward. I’m presently watching a replay of the MC final at the house of a friend who has Tennis Channel and a giant HD television (1 million times better than an Internet stream!) and Rafa was definitely playing well. The rest of the clay season will be interesting for sure. Vamos, beautiful King of the Red Dirt!

skeezerweezer Says:


“But I don’t do asterisks….”

Me too! Asterisks are for excuse makers ….

Alex Says:

Smart decision for Nole to take some time off. The clay court season is grueling under the best of circumstances. Hope he comes in strong for the French Open.

alison hodge Says:

Ajet 6.09pm april 25th,great post,as fans i think we all have a tendency to believe whatever side of the argument suits us at the time,ie some fed fans like to think Rafa beniffited from a compromised mono hit fed in 2008,or some Rafa fans like to think that fed bennifited from an injury hit Rafa in 2009,and some Nole fans like to think Rafa beniffited from Nole suffering from a family bereavement and on it goes,the phrase swings and roundabouts comes to mind.

Kimberly Says:

Great post carlo

Dory Says:

Makes sense. No reason to play ATP 250 series anyways in this year’s super-packed season. No reason at all to play when he’s just had a personal loss.

carlo Says:

Thanks Kimberly. I try to put myself right there in his story to understand what losing his grandpa meant. Lost a grandma myself whom I still miss. And of course her son, my dad. Also, I work in the business – lots of troubles and losses. Some people just wired to be more resilient and adjust better. Depends on many factors, but the strong support system can’t be underestimated in the ways it helps. Maybe a week will be enough but that’s fast – also not very familiar with his culture, religious views and so on. Those are also key, so can only guess as to how much time he’ll need. Perhaps within days putting his energy into hitting a tennis ball will be what helps most, I don’t know. Seems it would. Exercise is key to my own sanity…and music, and working.

jane Says:

That was a really thoughtful post yesterday @11:08 carlo – enjoyed reading it.

carlo Says:

Thanks jane. I still wish there was an edit button. I make too many errors writing: repeat myself, leave out words or a phrase that makes some thought incomprehensible. Thankfully, there is an office manager where I work to edit all my e-notes before they go into the charts.

allcourt Says:

“the reason he kept playing in monte was because he thought he could beat nadal. his level was actually very good in the berdych match if anybody cared to watch it. berdych was playing great, taking down murray the match before.
and djoker took care of business relatively easily.

“he also wasn’t playing badly at the beginning of the nadal match. let’s not pretend he wasn’t competing/winning rallies etc. nadal was just playing better than in any of their recent matches including australia”

Right on, roy. I just saw the highlights of the Djokovic Monte Carlo matches on Tennis Channel, and they support exactly what you said. A person does not have to have a hard heart in order to see what really went on with Nole and why in the MC tourney.

Wog boy Says:


After I read such a nice and thoughtfull comment I think you deserve to know more about a meaning of grandparents in our tradition. There is nobody around to help with a spelling so just ignore mistakes, please.
You will find often three generations living in one household ( in my case), grandparents are one that you spend most of the time with because parents are working. If your grandparents are living in the countryside (my father’s side case) than you spend every summer holidays, and the other holidays, with them. Best time of my life. Our parents have enormous respect for their parents and they are passing that on us. If they are sick or they need anything they are the first one to be looked after. My father would ring his brothers and they would organize in no time who is looking for the doctors, who is going in the country to see them and minding the other family relating things. If we traveled somewhere together grandparents were first to be looked after. They hide the things from our parents that we did, if they think it is right, they go to school to talk to teachers, they are telling us stories that you can hear only from them, they are giving us a money, from little what they have, so we can go out with girfriends. The bond that you develop as child and love for the grandparents is huge and warm and you feel so safe that when you have a problem you think that best place to hide and to be is next to grandfather chest and under his jacket close to his heart, because that is the safest place on earth.
I never had that kind of feeling for my father… until I lost him, but that is another storry.
I don’t know how good this was but at least I tried.

skeezerweezer Says:


“Exercise is key to my own sanity…and music, and working.”

Shaaammmoooon! Same here..

skeezerweezer Says:

Wog boy,

re: you last post

no worries it was good enough :)

King Federer Says:

raf@tards have been using “rafa’s papa doesn’t $crew his mom anymore and so rafa lost 2009 FO” as an excuse for so long that they don’t have the luxury of not accepting nole’s “excuses”.

rafa and his fans are the greatest excuse-mongers in the history of not only tennis but also any sport. [this includes the whacko- WTA tour]. so shut your pie-h0les and stop making bigger fools of yourselves by making fun of someone’s loss. remember this – clay season is only 2 months. rest of the 10 months, you will be our b!tches. so be nice or you gonna have your @$$es handed to you soon.

alison hodge Says:

carlo just to add my thoughts on such a touching post,when you suffer the loss of a loved one you never know how its going to effect you,Nole must have been really close to his grandpa for it to have effected him this way,although i was only little when my grandparents passed away so i only vaguely remember them,its a natural process that Nole is going through,we all go through it at some point in ours lives,and we all deal with it in different ways,i carried on working when both of my parents passed away,it was my way of coping,nobody judged me,and nobody should judge Nole either.

carlo Says:

Wog boy. Loved your story. You describe it so well, thank you for telling me. And it’s really very similar to the bond I felt with my grandma. On dad’s side of the family his parents came over from “the old country” meaning Odessa, Russia and took care of each other; but that’s an entire story in itself. Unfortunately some traditions get lost in the mix. My mom’s side of the family were very different. Almost everyone gets mixed up culturally in the US.

and it’s true alison, there’s a wide range of ways to cope. But there were a few here judging Nole and they don’t get it. Rafa won- full credit to him and taking nothing from him. But those who think Nole losing his grandpa wasn’t a big deal are wrong. And he remained in the tournament, not wanting to give up, but he was emotionally on empty. Should he have pulled out the day he heard the news? That’s not for anyone to judge.

Skeezer, it’s cosmic – we are Libras. :D born on the same day. lol

alison hodge Says:

carlo yeah completely agree,skeezer once asked me if i was a libra,to which i replied no im not,but my late mother was,and maybe i got it from her.

skeezerweezer Says:


Your a Libra, you just got your Bday wrong ;D

alison hodge Says:

skeezer aww thanks yeah its my parents fault they got the conception date wrong lol.

Bryan Says:

Oh the hypocrisy!

If he’s really that close to his grandpa as he said he was, he should have said his last goodbye and seen him one last time! But no, he had better things to do.

Tootie Says:

God bless you,Nole. May I recommend something? Ask Jesus into your heart. He is very comforting.

sportific Says:

Bryan, the reason he could not see his grandfather and say goodbye was because he was already playing in the tournament and learned about his death by cellphone. Novak lives in Monte Carlo and his grandfather died in Serbia.I think the hypocrit is …you! Shame on all of the hypocrits who take this sad event as an opportunity to take pot shots at Novak. His friends and fans will comiserate with him on his loss and the ones who choose to make jokes and sling arrows are just not worthy of thought!

allcourt Says:

Right on, Bryan. It is not necessary to abandon common sense or the use of your brain cells just because you’re talking aboutdeath and grief.

A person simply does not hear about a death of a very special loved one on one day, decide to keep working, and work quite well,for the next 4 days, choose to skip the funeral, then claim to be too emotionally drained to do his best work on the 5th day or to continue working the next week.


jane Says:

…and on the 7th day, God said, “let there be light!”


Danica Says:


there is no such thing as “… see him for the last time” because in Serbia, you don’t pay respects in front of an open casket. My maternal grandpa died in a hospital. My father went there to confirm it was him. He was the last to see him. Once the deceased is put into the casket, the lid goes down, and that’s it.

carlo Says:

Perhaps it is beyond your imagination, allcourt. But someone like Nole may have been discussing the moment with his beloved grandpa for months and months now. His grandpa would have told him to “play on.” #1 in ATP for Serbia is something his grandpa would have supported to the maximum and encouraged him to play on, when that day came. At least that is what my grandma and father would have told me. Nole tried. He did his best. This is not an ordinary situation – like going back to a regular job. You don’t get it – okay, fine. Not everyone can relate to such a close bond with a grandparent and the culture.

Again, not taking anything away from Nadal. Nole was not able to play to Nadal’s high level on that Sunday.

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