Djokovic carries his aspirations on his sleeve- Article on ESPN.com - MensTennisForums.com
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post #1 of 21 (permalink) Old 06-05-2008, 10:49 PM Thread Starter
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Djokovic carries his aspirations on his sleeve- Article on ESPN.com

Nothing really new but an interesting summary

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by Bonnie Ford

PARIS -- Novak Djokovic has his dream scenario at last -- the chance to play both men ranked ahead of him in a Grand Slam and tangibly reshuffle a deck that has remained undisturbed for almost three years now.

Djokovic beat Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer in back-to-back matches last year in Montreal, but that was with hard court under his sneakers and far less at stake. He can take over the No. 2 spot if he upsets Nadal in Friday's semifinal, where Djokovic is a decided underdog, although we suspect he's unlikely to curl into the fetal position in the manner of Nadal's previous two opponents.

It's appropriate to say "at last" in this context because Djokovic has been hungering for this opportunity since he was a kid and turned out to be one of those rare youngsters whose childhood dreams are rooted in unerring instinct.

Whatever happens at Roland Garros on Friday and over the weekend, we know that Djokovic can compete with Federer and Nadal on the court. Most recently, Djokovic tested Nadal severely in the Hamburg semifinals, boring deep into his service games in a match where the Spaniard's ranking also was on the line. Nadal called the three-set win one of the best of his career.

It may be nearly as interesting to watch these three players divide the more subjective turf outside the neat white rectangles of their workplace. If Federer represents elegance and sustained excellence, and Nadal represents boundless energy and innocent charm, is there room for Djokovic in the hearts and minds of the fans who populate Planet Tennis?

"This is an interesting year for him, a transition year, and those are fun to watch as an outsider," two-time French Open winner Jim Courier said in early May. "As an outsider who's been on the inside and gone through it, I'm always interested to see the psychology of the transition. He's one of the brighter tennis players I've met for his age."

Nadal arrived at Roland Garros as an endearing 18-going-on-19-year-old who didn't know what he didn't know, and never lost again. Federer bloomed a bit later, but once established as a champion, set such a high standard that he could be regally gracious about his would-be opponents and complimentary about himself without seeming insufferable.

Djokovic is different. He is The Ambitious One, the one who wears his aspirations like a sponsor's patch on his sleeve. He's the guy who moved his cot into the room where Federer and Nadal were amiably crashed out on bunk beds and started talking, keeping them from sleeping.

The 21-year-old Serb has a youthful magnetism comparable to Nadal's, combined with the worldly, multi-lingual cachet of Federer. The similarities end there. Djokovic has a different kind of backstory, coming from a disadvantaged nation whose infrastructure was so perilous that his parents sent him to Germany to train and looked into having him compete for two other countries, Italy and Great Britain.

His family is more visible than the Federer or Nadal clans have been (although Nadal's uncle Toni is, of course, his longtime coach). The fierce support of Djokovic's mother and father, their matching shirts and crisp comments about their oldest son's talent and intentions have drawn predictable push-back from Federer and Nadal partisans who were content to see the sport's world order stay put.

From here, the we've-got-your-back approach seems natural given the obstacle course this family navigated, and it also offers insight into why Djokovic has come so far in the last two seasons. He had to have attitude if he wanted to break through the concrete ceiling the other two men presented. For him, saying was believing before seeing was believing.

The sporting world generally values edge, but Nadal and Federer have occasionally expressed displeasure with Djokovic's version of it, especially before he'd joined the ranks of Slam winners. Federer has on occasion allowed a certain tone to seep into his voice when asked about Djokovic, while Nadal made it known he wasn't crazy about Djokovic's exaggerated pants-tugging imitation of him on live television at the U.S. Open.

Djokovic backed up his brashness by capturing the Australian Open title this season. Some would attach an asterisk because Federer, whom Djokovic beat in the semifinals, was sapped by mononucleosis that hadn't yet been diagnosed. But the point is that virus or no virus, it took a player immune to intimidation to get the job done, and that quality helped Djokovic as much as his precise serving or his agility.

The real footnote to that win was Djokovic's obvious discomfort -- echoed in his father's angry face -- when the crowd announced early and often that it was behind his opponent.

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga played a mystically perfect match against Nadal and streaked into the final like a comet that at least temporarily blots out other constellations.

It was the first time Djokovic had ever been a favorite in that kind of match. He didn't handle it entirely gracefully. "He took the crowd on, which is not the smart play if you're trying to endear yourself to them," Courier said.

Asked Tuesday whether he had learned anything from that experience, Djokovic said no. But he also admitted he's not the kind of player who feeds off hostility.

"It's really important if you can get the crowd behind you to support you," he said. "You know, you get motivated, you get a lot of positive energy, and you kind of play easier, you know.

"If you have a crowd against you, it's a totally different situation. Then you're fighting against the crowd and your opponent. This can put you in a really tricky position. That's why sometimes maybe during the match, you know, if I see the crowd is against me I react crazy, but, you know, it's all part of the sport."

Last year at this time, Djokovic was a darling of the tennis world after sweeping to the French Open semis with countrywomen Ana Ivanovic and Jelena Jankovic -- new blood for a sport that, while not exactly anemic, still can use regular transfusions of personality.

Then Djokovic learned, like all young stars, the difference between a honeymoon and a committed relationship where fans are concerned. His withdrawals from big matches have drawn heavy criticism -- unjustified, he insisted recently, in the case of his semifinal match against Federer in Monte Carlo, since he was later found to have had strep throat.

It would be a shame if people cast Djokovic as the guy in the black hat simply because they think the screenplay of the sport demands it. A rivalry shouldn't necessarily lead to tribal strife. "He doesn't seem to me like he would be a good bad guy," Courier said. "He's far too likeable, he likes the spotlight, he likes joking around."

Benito Perez, Djokovic's media and marketing liaison, has booked Djokovic on Jay Leno and on the Italian show that is a "Tonight" equivalent with confidence that he'd be a natural talk-show guest. He's had Djokovic do photo shoots for GQ and Men's Vogue because the tall, slender Djokovic is a natural clothes horse. Perez has high hopes of broadening Djokovic's appeal in the coming months and years. But ultimately, Perez said, Djokovic's image will rest on his ability to get results and nothing else. It's mostly his own fault for setting the bar so high so soon.

Friday presents an interesting dilemma for Perez, who also handles Nadal's public relations. He'll prowl around the interior of the stadium watching the semifinal on television rather than from either player's box.

Afterwards, by his own set of rules, Perez will dine with the loser. "That's always what I do," he said. "The loser needs more support. Everyone wants to be with the winner."

That makes sense. And the fact that there are three men vying for the public's affection as well as prize money, points and stature should only make fans feel in demand, and grateful.

“For life be, after all, only a waitin' for somethin' else than what we're doin'; and death be all that we can rightly depend on.” - Bram Stoker, Dracula
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post #2 of 21 (permalink) Old 06-05-2008, 10:52 PM
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Re: Djokovic carries his aspirations on his sleeve- Article on ESPN.com

Djoke is the cheater; he's a disgrace to tennis.
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post #3 of 21 (permalink) Old 06-05-2008, 11:00 PM
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Re: Djokovic carries his aspirations on his sleeve- Article on ESPN.com

Can't we just combine all the Novak-bashing threads into one? It's really getting tedious wading through all the hate threads.

Nole fan: "...most Fedtards seem to be very rabid and rude." (I agree 100%)

You can bet Djokovic's mom just screamed "Another king is dead" right about now - in the remotest corner - of her bathroom - followed by "The other one is buried." (from tennisplanet.me, following Madrid 2011 Djokovic d. Nadal 7-5 6-4)
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post #4 of 21 (permalink) Old 06-05-2008, 11:00 PM
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Re: Djokovic carries his aspirations on his sleeve- Article on ESPN.com

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Originally Posted by tennizen View Post
Nothing really new but an interesting summary

i posted this article in my Wimbledon thread. good read tennizen.

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post #5 of 21 (permalink) Old 06-05-2008, 11:02 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Djokovic carries his aspirations on his sleeve- Article on ESPN.com

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Originally Posted by Aloimeh View Post
Can't we just combine all the Novak-bashing threads into one? It's really getting tedious wading through all the hate threads.
I feel for you.

Btw if you weren't on auto reply, you would have noticed this is an article thread not a bashing one and secondly the content of this article is not exactly bashing Novak.

“For life be, after all, only a waitin' for somethin' else than what we're doin'; and death be all that we can rightly depend on.” - Bram Stoker, Dracula
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post #6 of 21 (permalink) Old 06-05-2008, 11:03 PM
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Re: Djokovic carries his aspirations on his sleeve- Article on ESPN.com

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Originally Posted by Aloimeh View Post
Can't we just combine all the Novak-bashing threads into one? It's really getting tedious wading through all the hate threads.
This one in particular might have been better suited for the Djokovic forum. I'm sure there's an article thread there.
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post #7 of 21 (permalink) Old 06-05-2008, 11:05 PM
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Re: Djokovic carries his aspirations on his sleeve- Article on ESPN.com

Interesting article, and I think it is fair to say that part of the problem with Novak and the backlash against him in some quarters is that he is different, he is a bit brash, he is a bit more outspoken about what he thinks and what he wants, and his family are more vocal and a larger presence than people have been used to.

The Federer Nadal cosy duopoly which was in place for quite some time was just that - cosy. They like each other, they talk about each other with respect, they rarely say anything gauche or out of turn about the other - it's a very civilised rivalry.

And then in bursts a teenager with a cocky attitude, with initially more talk that game, though now his game usually matches up to his talk in large part.

For many people I think they have reacted against the changed picture and against him for changing it.

That's not the reason why everyone has taken against him, but certainly I think in some cases, it explains a few things.

Roger and Rafa have been cosy, cute and a stable presence at the top of the game for ages, but that had to change eventually and Djokovic has every right to bring that change if he can.

Might as well get used to the idea.
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post #8 of 21 (permalink) Old 06-05-2008, 11:09 PM
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Re: Djokovic carries his aspirations on his sleeve- Article on ESPN.com

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Originally Posted by tennizen View Post
I feel for you.

Btw if you weren't on auto reply, you would have noticed this is an article thread not a bashing one and secondly the content of this article is not exactly bashing Novak.
I know it isn't and I'm not angry at you. But look at the post right after yours. That just encapsulates what GM is like on Djokovic. If the article is positive, Djokovic is attacked by the haters because he really isn't good - he's bad. If the article is negative (like that one on Djokovic and Monfils), then the haters sing in unison on the horrors of Djokovic and throw some more proverbial stones at the Djokovic effigy. You can't win. So, I'd rather we don't see any new articles on Djokovic because inevitably they degerate into hater-infested threads.

Nole fan: "...most Fedtards seem to be very rabid and rude." (I agree 100%)

You can bet Djokovic's mom just screamed "Another king is dead" right about now - in the remotest corner - of her bathroom - followed by "The other one is buried." (from tennisplanet.me, following Madrid 2011 Djokovic d. Nadal 7-5 6-4)
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post #9 of 21 (permalink) Old 06-05-2008, 11:09 PM
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Re: Djokovic carries his aspirations on his sleeve- Article on ESPN.com

Novak forum
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post #10 of 21 (permalink) Old 06-05-2008, 11:12 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Djokovic carries his aspirations on his sleeve- Article on ESPN.com

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Originally Posted by Aloimeh View Post
I know it isn't and I'm not angry at you. But look at the post right after yours. That just encapsulates what GM is like on Djokovic. If the article is positive, Djokovic is attacked by the haters because he really isn't good - he's bad. If the article is negative (like that one on Djokovic and Monfils), then the haters sing in unison on the horrors of Djokovic and throw some more proverbial stones at the Djokovic effigy. You can't win. So, I'd rather we don't see any new articles on Djokovic because inevitably they degerate into hater-infested threads.
Unfortunately it doesn't work that way neither with Djokovic nor any other player. You should have got used to it by now.

“For life be, after all, only a waitin' for somethin' else than what we're doin'; and death be all that we can rightly depend on.” - Bram Stoker, Dracula
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post #11 of 21 (permalink) Old 06-05-2008, 11:13 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Djokovic carries his aspirations on his sleeve- Article on ESPN.com

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Originally Posted by l_mac View Post
Novak forum
Anything positive on Novak and its demanded to be moved to his forum These haters

“For life be, after all, only a waitin' for somethin' else than what we're doin'; and death be all that we can rightly depend on.” - Bram Stoker, Dracula
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post #12 of 21 (permalink) Old 06-05-2008, 11:18 PM
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Re: Djokovic carries his aspirations on his sleeve- Article on ESPN.com

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Originally Posted by tennizen View Post
Anything positive on Novak and its demanded to be moved to his forum These haters
I agree with Aloimeh on this point. It's an article only about Novak, it belongs in the player forum not GM (where it will become another bashing vs hyper sensitive fans thread.)

Just my opinion.
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post #13 of 21 (permalink) Old 06-05-2008, 11:18 PM
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Re: Djokovic carries his aspirations on his sleeve- Article on ESPN.com

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Originally Posted by tennizen View Post
Anything positive on Novak and its demanded to be moved to his forum These haters
Don't listen to her Hema I thought it was a very interesting article.
Some people just can't get past their hate. Quite sad really
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post #14 of 21 (permalink) Old 06-05-2008, 11:18 PM
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Re: Djokovic carries his aspirations on his sleeve- Article on ESPN.com

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Originally Posted by tennizen View Post
Unfortunately it doesn't work that way neither with Djokovic nor any other player. You should have got used to it by now.
But the NoleTards don't hate-infest the RafaTard threads. So why do you RafaTards do this to us? We could have been friends.

[youtube]seByluTc1ZA[/youtube] Go to 6:00.

Nole fan: "...most Fedtards seem to be very rabid and rude." (I agree 100%)

You can bet Djokovic's mom just screamed "Another king is dead" right about now - in the remotest corner - of her bathroom - followed by "The other one is buried." (from tennisplanet.me, following Madrid 2011 Djokovic d. Nadal 7-5 6-4)
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post #15 of 21 (permalink) Old 06-05-2008, 11:23 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Djokovic carries his aspirations on his sleeve- Article on ESPN.com

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Originally Posted by l_mac View Post
I agree with Aloimeh on this point. It's an article only about Novak, it belongs in the player forum not GM (where it will become another bashing vs hyper sensitive fans thread.)

Just my opinion.
I think the article discusses how the existing order has been affected by Djokovic's presence. So while Djokovic is the central theme, I feel the article is about the top 3.

Quote:
Originally Posted by elessar View Post
Don't listen to her Hema I thought it was a very interesting article.
Some people just can't get past their hate. Quite sad really
Thanks

Quote:
Originally Posted by Aloimeh View Post
But the NoleTards don't hate-infest the RafaTard threads. So why do you RafaTards do this to us? We could have been friends.
So we unite against the Fedtards? I have seen you spew a lot of hate towards Fed. In which case its only fair that you accept the same against Novak.

“For life be, after all, only a waitin' for somethin' else than what we're doin'; and death be all that we can rightly depend on.” - Bram Stoker, Dracula
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