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Nole visited Israel several weeks ago (He has an Israeli agent and a fitness trainer) and gave a LONG interview to one of Israel's leading magazines. I won't translate the whole article, because it's very long, but there are some really good questions and answers in there you'll probably enjoy. I assume the interview was given in English and was translated to Hebrew, so translating back would probably not be dead accurate.

Q: ”What are you missing (in order) to become number one:”

"They say I'm the strongest mentally, and I will work hard to fulfill the dream. It looks close, but I'm far away, because Federer and Nadal are a couple of thousands points above me. I've beaten both of them already and I have a lot of motivation"

About visiting Israel:

"I played here with Serbia in the Davis cup, but we didn't have time to travel. This time I did some traveling in my three days here, you have an incredible country. I got to know it a little bit now and discovered there is plenty more to see. I was in Jerusalem in all the holy places. It was an amazing experience. As a religious man, a Christian, I feel obligated to come here at least one more time to see and experience the fantastic holy land, to pray and see where Jesus was crucified, where he was, where he was buried."

Q: Did you visit the western wall in Jerusalem?
Nole: "Sure, I visited the western wall. It was very exciting/emotional"
Amit Naor (His agent): "Don't tell him what you wrote in the note you put in the wall".
Q: That was going to be my next question.
Nole: "No, what I wrote there is between me and God. There is no chance I will tell what I've written. I won't even tell my parents. It's a personal secret, what you wish for yourself and hope would happen"

Q: “There was another reason for your visit”.

Nole: "Yes, the main reason was a physical exam I wanted to do, blood tests and general check up so I could know what to work on and what to improve. Ronen (his fitness trainer) recommended I come here because he has a lot of friends in the Olympic community here.
"I gotta say I was pleasantly surprised by Tel Aviv and Israel in general. I was surprised by how the country looked and how progressive it was. I also experienced the nightlife here, it was important to me as a 20 years old"


Q: "Where did you hang-out at?"

Nole: "I have no idea how the place is called. Some club. But I expect to come back here again"

Q: "Did you like the Israeli girls?

Nole: "Obviously, but I wouldn't want my girfriend to hear that. The Israeli girls remind me of the Serbian girls. Same mentality, hot blood. The girls here are very beautiful, really".

Naor: "Luckily for you, your girlfriend does not read Hebrew".

About Sharapova:

Q: "Come on Novak, what's the deal with Sharapova?"

Nole: "What's the story? there is no story. It's a positive thing for such a famous movie actor and such a successful tennis player root for you from your box at the USO. There is nothing going on between us other than friendship. She just came to cheer for me. You're asking why she came to see me of all people. Because I invited her. She lost early in the women tournament but stayed in town. We were in touch and I asked her to the final. She said it was an honor for her to be there.

Q: Your country woman, Anna Ivanovic gives a 'fight' to Sharapova as the most beautiful tennis player on tour. Do you have a question for those who wonder why you prefer Sharapova?

Nole: "Who said that?! Anna has been my friend for years, we're trying to go to each other matches. Everyone are talking about Maria now because she came to one of my matches, but Anna came to a lot more. I know her for much longer, and I can't say I prefer Maria. Was there anything Romantic with Anna? No... lets keep that a secret."

About his girlfriend of two years, Jelena R. (I don't know how to spell her last name).

Q: "After such a long time together, any special plans?"

Nole: "No, I'm too young for that. Say, did she send you to ask me those questions?"

About the war:

"The person who put into Djokovic's head the thought of the first place in the world was Jelena Gencic(???), the coach who raised Monica Seles, and convinced him to pick Tennis. The shy boy, who dreamed of a professional career as in ski like many of his family, listened, took notice, and began implementing with more than a few difficulties in the way.

"She told my family: You want him to be a tennis player. Take him out of here (Yugoslavia).

Even when talking about difficult subjects like the war, Djokovic finds time to make a joke. He didn't get the nickname "The Djoker" for nothing. When I ask him about the secret to success of Serbia, a small country who turned into a sport power-country and in Tennis in particular he answers. "It's the radiation that was after the war, you know? We had a lot of radiation.

Q: "And now seriously?"

Nole:"We had many problems in the last 15-20 years. Financial problems, wars, it was very difficult to be a successful athlete in our country, but we made it. It's good to see the success of the people I grew up with, like Anna, Jelena, etc (He names them, but I can't spell their names...).

Q:"What do you remember of the war?

Nole: "I wouldn't wish that on anyone. It's a black period in my life. I want to forget it. Maybe I have to be thankful going through it, because it made me stronger mentally, and I apprechiate everything in my life a lot more.

Q:"You weren't very far from choosing another career"

Nole: "That's right. I grew up on a mountain in Serbia and I Remember how I had to choose between Tennis and ski at the time. I chose Tennis at the end, I guess it wasn't the wrong desicion."
About his personality:

Q:"I guess Tennis needed someone like you after several boring years"

Nole: "Tennis is a different sport, because it's one on one with just two players on the court. It' nice to see but it's too gentlemanly-like and you can't shut between points and cheer like in team sport. From that perspective tennis is not attractive, but we're trying to make it more fun, and more people are coming to watch."

Ronen Begga, his trainer, compliments him "There is a tendency to think Tennis players are a machine, but Novak is very human and very cute. He is a very intelligent guy who has an incredible way to pick up languages, he speaks 6 languages, it's a lot of fun to work with him, he is different than everyone else.

Nole: "I don't understand the players who come on court just for the money. I am looking for fun. The imitations are a part of the show. It's something I've been doing all my life. People are just now paying attention, because I've become popular, but I've always done it. I started out with Pete Sampras, Boris Becker, etc. It gives me positive energies. All the time there is traveling in Tennis, so I try to make people augh, get out of the routine is not a bad thing.

Q: "Speaking of traveling, you take a special pillow with you everywhere"

Nole: "Yes, ever since I was born I had problems breathing through my nose. I was breathing heavily and had to have a surgery in my airways. Now things are better, but I am still allergic and prefer to take my own pillows and bed covers.

Q:Did you start imitating players after reaching a certain ranking?

Nole:"When I started playing on the tour and they didn't know me. I was a mouse. I only made imitations in front of friends in close events. If I had done it in public, everyone would say 'Who is that idiot kid who makes imitations of everyone'. Obviously now, when I'm the 3 in the world, I can allow myself to do it"

Q: No one got offended?

Nole: "Fortunately no one. There were rumors that Nadal was upset, but I know him, and he didn't say anything to me. We are in touch and he is taking it well."

Q:"Any chance you'll make an imitation of Shahar Peer?"

Nole: "Who knows, she has to be top 5 first, because I don't make imitation of anyone lower than that. But seriously, I need to practice doing her, because I haven't seen her playing that often.

Q:"Novak, what's the deal with the bouncing?"

Nole: "Everyone keeps talking about it. There is a certain number of bouncing I must do before a serve, when I serve on one side it's an even number, and when I serve on the other side it's an uneven number."

Q: "I actually tried to count and discovered there isn't a real regularity to it.

Nole: "The crazy thing is that I don't always start counting from the beginning. Sometimes I forget, and then I just start counting from the middle. That why it looks like it's not always the same number. Sometimes even I go crazy. BTW, in one of the training with Roddick he tried to get back at me for imitating him and started bouncing as many times as me"

Q: And despite this oddity, you insist you don't have superstitions?

Nole: "I don't. I'm not like the nuts who start putting this racquet this way, or the balls in the certain ways, but I have a pretty regular way of preparing. I like to play a little soccer with friends before matches, it calms me down.

Q:"What tennis player did you idolize as a child?"

Nole: "My idol is Pete Sampras. I haven't met him yet in person, but as a child I would watch him on TV. One of the pictures I remember most is him lifting up the trophy in Wimbledon, Many time I imagine myself in the same situation.

Q: "Did you take something from his game?"

Nole: "When I was a child I tried to copy his game and hit a one-handed backhand, but I was too skinny and weak, so I moved to the two-hander, I always wanted a serve like Pete, a return like Agassi, Edberg's net-game.
 

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Thank you for this. :)

(and now the haters can come in, disect every answer, and call him names).
 
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Great interview. Thanks for posting. I like this kid.
 

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He's still a punk with no talent.
 

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Thanks for your effort...I enjoyed reading the questions. :D
 

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Thanks for the interview.

With an Israeli stamp in his passport, he cannot travel to Dubai (ie, attend the Dubai tournament) according to the Dubai/UAE government. I wonder if he is aware/or cares. Or maybe they will make an exemption.
Oh I bet they will make an exception. I would be more curious about his trainer getting in;)
 

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Thanks for the interview.

With an Israeli stamp in his passport, he cannot travel to Dubai (ie, attend the Dubai tournament) according to the Dubai/UAE government. I wonder if he is aware/or cares. Or maybe they will make an exemption.
The Dubai tournament has repeatedly assured the ATP that all players who request one will be given a visa. They've even gone so far as to say that includes the Israeli players, but none of them have ever tried to go there (I'm sure they are as disgusted by the very existence of that tournament as I am).
 

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Thanks for translating and posting this article. It was a great read. I have always liked Nole a lot, - right from when he was a junior. He is a bright, intelligent young man who thinks deeply about the game, and about a lot of things outside the sport. I wish him well in 2008.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Shahar Peer will be playing in Doha in 2008, Dubai is more tricky for the Israelis, Andy and Yoni said they've been told by the ATP "If you want to play, we can arrange that - but, there are plenty other tournaments for you to chose from" - in other words, "We would prefer that you didn't, it would be difficult to arrange and should it fall through, it would be a nightmare for the ATP"

But re: Nole, It is very possible it was arranged his passport will not be stamped. It is sometimes done upon request, we know it can be a problem. As far as Ronen (trainer) goes, that's a good question, I can try and check that.
 

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Interesting interview. Thanks for sharing. :)

Is Dubai as strict as the rest of UAE? I don't know much about it other than a profile of it on 60 minutes a few months ago. Impression I got was the place was full of foreigners/expats and of course big multinational corporations that will go anywhere there is no/low tax rates.
 

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The Dubai tournament has repeatedly assured the ATP that all players who request one will be given a visa. They've even gone so far as to say that includes the Israeli players, but none of them have ever tried to go there (I'm sure they are as disgusted by the very existence of that tournament as I am).
...
 

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Interesting interview. Thanks for sharing. :)

Is Dubai as strict as the rest of UAE? I don't know much about it other than a profile of it on 60 minutes a few months ago. Impression I got was the place was full of foreigners/expats and of course big multinational corporations that will go anywhere there is no/low tax rates.
I watched that too. going to Dubai is nothing like being in an Arab country. Its the Arabs who are the foreigners.
 

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There are a lot of foreigners in Dubai/the rest of the UAE, but the bulk of them are very poor laborers mainly from the subcontinent, not the wealthy sportspeople and other celebrities. The UAE is notorious for not giving citizenship to these people who slave there for years.

Regarding the visa, yes Israel does leave the stamp out upon request. I have heard about that. Of course, with internet news on a public persona like Djokovic, it's not like the Dubai authorities need to see a stamp to know he went there if they do their sleuthing right. The tournament does say they will give a visa to anyone who requests, but I don't see how it is in their hands to do so. The decision really does not lie with them, and I can't imagine that they a tennis tournament is so influential as to affect that decision. (I was waiting to see last year if Andy Murray would go, and Brad Gilbert --who has been to Israel-- would be able to get in. But that didn't happen).
 

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Discussion Starter #17
I think the problem is just with people who has an Israeli passport (And use it to get in and out of Dubai) - not for none-Israeli citizens who had been to Israel. First of all, our relationship with Dubai aren't THAT bad, there are no open hostilities or anything like that. Second of all, there are many Arab business men, Egyptians and Jordanians, who make business with Israelis and visited Israel before, and I'm pretty sure they don't have problems visiting Dubai.

I can't imagine it would cause Nole any problems, he had been in Israel before for the Davis cup before, and he traveled to Dubai last year, didn't he? I think it's a none-issue.
 

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I think the problem is just with people who has an Israeli passport (And use it to get in and out of Dubai) - not for none-Israeli citizens who had been to Israel.
Negative.
The Government of UAE explicitly writes Israeli citizens or anyone else who has an Israeli stamp in their passport will not be issued a visa.
I am not sure how widely it is enforced, though.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
:confused:




http://www.dubai.com/s/dubaicity/index11.html

Please note that Israelis and travellers whose Passports bear Israeli stamps will be denied a visa.
:rolleyes:

I wasn't fully aware of those restriction on people who had been to Israel. I don't recall ever hearing about a story like that -though it's possible we just don't stamp as a rule, so there was never any problem. :confused: :confused:

So either we don't stamp, or they don't widely enforce if there's a logical reason to the visit, or they make allowences for Tennis players, because many tennis players, both male and females, came to Israel as part of the Davis cup/Fed cup teams and probably played Dubai - though I can't name anyone right now.
 
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