Quiet please: It's time for the Novak knocking to stop

By Rik J / Roar Rookie

In case you’ve been living under a rock, Novak Djokovic just won Wimbledon.

In doing so he drew level with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal on 20 grand slam singles titles, and kept alive the dream of winning a golden grand slam – all four majors and Olympic gold – a feat only achieved by Steffi Graf.

In order to win the last three slams he has had to defeat Nadal on Court Philippe Chatrier – a feat as close to impossible as exists in sport – and defeat the entire next generation, all felled by the sword of the mighty Serb.

These achievements bolster his already sparkling resume. He is now the only man in the open era to hold two full sets of grand slam trophies, and to accompany this he has twice achieved the Golden Masters.

His credentials are already such that with one more French Open he’d have three sets of slams. With another Monte Carlo and another Cincinnati he’d have three Golden Masters.

He already has the most weeks as world number one since the inception of computerised rankings. He has winning head-to-head records over his celebrated contemporaries, Nadal and Federer.

He has the highest winning percentage in men’s tennis history. In many ways he’s the most accomplished player this sport has ever seen.

You’d probably be better off asking what he hasn’t won.

(Photo by Matthias Hangst/Getty Images)

By now we’ve all watched Djokovic walk out onto the world’s most prestigious courts countless times over. It’s interesting to note the treatment he gets from the crowd. Compared to the giddy, rapturous ovations afforded to Nadal and Federer, the reception Djokovic receives is noticeably subdued.

In the heat of battle, crowds will cheer heartily for his opponents. Commentators will note that crowds ‘want to see as much tennis as possible’ or ‘love an underdog’… but every single time?

And when he inevitably wins, the applause is rarely something of pure elation. It’s most certainly respectful, and people seem to enjoy participating in his arm-raising celebration. But at times it can all feel a little… benign. A bit formal. Forced.

While he has his legions of passionate fans, the last prize that Djokovic has not won is the love of the masses. As he continues to win and smash records, consolidating his position as one of the greatest ever to do it, there is no doubt that he has their utmost respect.

But he does not have their love. At least not in the way it’s given to Federer and Nadal.

Why not, when his achievements are equal or better in nearly every way? Why not, when he literally tells the fans how much he’s missed them through the many challenges of the pandemic?

Let’s go back to his first grand slam title win at the Australian Open 2008.

Federer was still the undisputed king of tennis, with a legend-making haul of 12 grand slam titles. Nadal was very much the king of clay, with three Roland Garros titles and two Wimbledon finals under his belt. Djokovic was the upstart nipping at their heels. He’d won two masters tournaments in ’07 and had fallen in straight sets to Federer in the US Open final.

Coming into the Australian Open Nadal still hadn’t fully adapted his game to hardcourt, and it became clear very quickly that Federer wasn’t himself. In the third round – a stage at which people were well accustomed to watching him eviscerate world-class players in 80 ruthless minutes – Federer played a gruelling marathon with Janko Tipsarevic.

This match is etched into Australian tennis folklore by proxy: the fans packed into Rod Laver Arena that night were there to see the maestro quickly and clinically dispose of Tipsarevic before a scintillating match-up between home-town hero Lleyton Hewitt and crowd favourite Marcos Baghdatis.

But Tipsarevic took a sluggish Federer all the way down to 10-8 in the fifth, pushing the Hewitt-Baghdatis match back to an 11:47pm start and a now famous 4:40am finish.

It was later revealed that Federer was experiencing lagging effects of a bout with mononucleosis, but educated pundits had already sensed something was amiss, and when Federer and Nadal were both dispatched in the semi-finals a new champion was to be crowned.

Federer was beaten by Djokovic, and Nadal by a young Frenchman by the name of Jo Wilfried Tsonga.

(Photo by TPN/Getty Images)

By then Djokovic had established himself as the world’s best player not named Federer or Nadal, but Australia had fallen utterly in love with the charismatic young Frenchman, and Australians love an underdog as much as anyone.

Tsonga electrified the fervent Melbourne crowd by winning the first set with power, flair and inspired shot-making. Djokovic, ever business like, displayed his now trademark ability to adjust and wrested momentum back from Tsonga, winning the second. It was far from easy, and the moments in which he bickered with the umpire drew a light smattering of boos from some spectators. But he eventually triumphed, winning in four sets and beginning his campaign for greatness.

The crowd were happy enough – it was something of a novelty having these two strapping youths tussle for a grand slam. But in a way it set the tone for the rest of his career. He lifted his first grand slam trophy to the grudging (albeit genuine) applause of a crowd who kind of hoped the other guy would win.

Djokovic would go quiet again for the next couple of seasons, but the landscape of men’s tennis continued to shift. Nadal would finally conquer Wimbledon in 2008, beating Federer in perhaps the greatest final of all time. Federer would win Roland Garros a year later, completing his long-awaited career slam. Over the remainder of seasons ’08, ’09 and ’10 Nadal would win six grand slams, Federer four, the only interloper being Juan Martin Del Potro, who won the 2009 US Open.

You’d have been hard-pressed to find anyone with any strong feelings about Djokovic then. At the time it was easy to more or less dismiss him as one of the more interesting supporting characters in the Federer and Nadal story.

But in 2011 that all changed.

Simply put, Djokovic produced one of the greatest individual seasons we’ve ever seen. He began proceedings by winning the Australian Open again. Then he won Dubai, before tackling the sunshine double of Indian Wells and Miami.

As the streak extended, his confidence grew. Time after time he was challenged by Federer and Nadal and time after time he repelled them, no matter the surface. He tallied a beastly 41 wins before defeat at the hands of Federer in the Roland Garros semi-finals.

It was the winning streak that changed everything. In raw results it was impressive enough – a grand slam and four Masters – but the nature by which he achieved it brooked no argument. He was a supporting character no more. Djokovic had arrived, and he was a problem.

In 2011 he would ultimately win three grand slams, five Masters and seize the number one ranking with a mind-boggling win rate of 92.1 per cent.

Now everyone had strong feelings about the boy from Belgrade.

(Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

Herein lies the main reason why people have never embraced Djokovic with both arms. The preceding four or five seasons had given everyone enough time to grow fond of Federer and Nadal’s storied rivalry.

Federer was the virtuoso. With his smooth, elegant style and one-handed strokes, he resembled a fencer wielding a sabre. He possessed a truly sublime, artistic game that flourished on the grass courts of London.

Nadal was the gladiator. Federer’s left-handed nemesis was armed with an explosive top-spin forehand and a dogged competitive spirit that saw him gain unprecedented supremacy over the Parisian dirt.

The story of the virtuoso and the gladiator, the grass and the dirt, had captured the world’s imagination. By 2011, everyone had picked a favourite and their almost guaranteed final meetings provided a blockbuster finale to nearly every major tournament.

By comparison Djokovic’s game was utilitarian – more practical than inspired. His happiest hunting grounds were the synthetic hard courts of Melbourne and for all his genius, Djokovic was probably best described as a machine. And compared to a virtuoso and a gladiator, what is a machine?

Brutal and economical. Mechanical, clinical and charmless.

Make no bones about it, Djokovic crashed the party. Now it was the virtuoso, the gladiator and the machine, and for a lot of tennis fans, three was a crowd.

His willingness to get right in the beloved faces of Federer and Nadal simply did not sit well with the masses. From his breakthrough in 2011 he made it abundantly clear that while he respected his celebrated adversaries, he was not in awe of them, and his passion and self belief were quickly judged and deemed to be nary more than arrogance.

This is not to say that he’s a hated figure by any means. It’s just that for a lot of people, he’s not their favourite. For such fans Djokovic’s very presence in any draw makes it unlikely that their favourite player stands a chance at the title, and it compels them to cheer against him, even when he’s playing someone else. It’s mostly nothing personal.

Mostly. Because like all successful people, Djokovic has his share of haters that begrudge him for his success and live to scrutinise his every action on and off the court.

The accusations range from biased to completely unfounded, and among the most abundant of them are his alleged arrogance and lack of sportsmanship.

In a period covering 2012-2014 Djokovic went through an uncharacteristic drought, reaching six grand slam finals and losing five. It was a period in which Sir Andy Murray was at the peak of his powers and Nadal just plain had his number. On every one of these occasions he delivered a runner-up speech full of unmitigated praise for his opponent. This has been true for his entire career, no matter how much the losses stung.

Perhaps the greatest example of this came at Roland Garros in 2015. After three years of painful losses to Nadal, he was finally in pole position to win the elusive clay court slam having beaten Nadal and Murray in the quarter-finals and semi-finals respectively. The last one in his way was Swiss powerhouse Stanislas Wawrinka.

(Photo by Quality Sport Images/Getty Images)

While victory was certainly not a given, people recognised that this was the best chance he’d ever fashioned to win the French Open. The pressure was on Djokovic.

But an in-form Wawrinka is one of the game’s most devastating forces. Wawrinka produced an absolutely imperious performance and crushed Djokovic in four, forcing him to wait one more year.

Djokovic fought back tears as the crowd on Philippe Chatrier showed him their appreciation, and when it came his turn to use the microphone, he made no mention of the bitter disappointment in his heart and offered no excuses for his loss. Translated roughly from French, he said:

“Hi everyone… I don’t speak very good French…. A big congratulations to you Stan, your team and your family… it is not easy for me to speak right now but some things are more important than victories, such as character. Full respect to you, Stan, you are a great champion with a big heart and you deserve this title… I would like to thank my team, my family and my wife… all my team for the support, the French public and the worldwide public. I will continue to prove that I deserve to win on my next stop, thank you very much.”

The speech was delivered mere minutes after arguably the toughest loss of his career. They were hardly the words of a bad sport.

Perhaps it’s his on-court antics that influence the way people perceive him.

Djokovic, like all the greats, is cursed with an insatiable will to win. It manifests itself in a variety of ways. It might be a clenched fist or a point to his temple. Sometimes it’s a bestial scream towards his box, other times it’s a mangled tennis racquet.

Not all these behaviours are desirable, but they are very human. In a perfect world, nobody would ever blow their stack when they’re having a bad day at the office. But tennis has always been a sport of personalities.

You have the likes of Pete Sampras, Ivan Lendl and Nadal who were never known to break a racquet. You also have the likes of Andre Agassi, Goran Ivanisevic and John McEnroe who were.

(Fred Lee/Getty Images)

Even the great Federer has been known to show a Wilson Pro Staff exactly how he feels from time to time.

The fact that some of the game’s most beloved players have smashed the occasional racquet doesn’t seem to matter when dissecting Djokovic’s behaviour. Nor does his charity work, or any of his numerous acts of kindness that have been caught on camera. His detractors will insist that it’s all for show.

Not only is this a grossly cynical view to take, it’s also an abysmally flaccid argument.

In 2017, Djokovic organised ‘A Night with Novak’, a charity event for the Djokovic Foundation, staged in Melbourne with several of Australian sport’s brightest names. During a hit with Aussie tennis legend Dylan Alcott, Alcott told the audience: “There is nobody in men’s tennis who does more to support wheelchair tennis than Novak on the ATP tour. He always gives. Any time… he does demos with us, please give Novak a big round of applause for supporting what we do”.

As Daniil Medvedev accepted his runner-up trophy at this year’s Australian Open he took the opportunity to share a memory of Djokovic from his years as an emerging player.

“I first practised with Novak when I was I think like 500 in the world or 600 in the world, in Monaco. He was already number one, just won Wimbledon and I thought, ‘Okay he’s not gonna speak to me or something’… the guy was a god for me… I was shy so I didn’t speak… so he was asking me questions, talking to me like a friend, I was really surprised… and it has never changed, whether I was 600 in the world or four in the world, you’re a great sport a great person, so congrats.”

After a spirited fight in the Wimbledon semi-finals last week, Canada’s Denis Shapovalov left the court in tears, the roaring ovation seemingly doing little to lift his spirits. In his post-match press conference he revealed that Djokovic had approached him after the match with some veteran’s wisdom.

“He’s and incredible guy. I don’t think he’s praised enough. He came up to me in the locker room and said a couple of words… to me it means a lot, he really doesn’t have to. He just told me he knows how difficult it is for me right now, but he told me that everything will come… it’s big coming from someone like him. Like I said, he doesn’t have to do this and it just shows the type of person he is, and it’s just nice for someone like me to hear from him… so for sure I have tremendous respect for him.”

None of the above stories were brought into the open by Djokovic himself. The fact that his colleagues hold him in such high esteem supersedes the speculation of anonymous trolls, and the fact that they weren’t public knowledge debunks the argument that his kind gestures are merely a product of some contrived public persona.

(Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

There are, however, those who have more reasonable gripes with Djokovic. Some fans assert that Djokovic makes opportunistic use of the medical time out in when he’s in trouble in a match.

The bulk of this criticism seems to stem from his 2020 Australian Open final against Dominic Thiem. Pablo Carreño Busta also called him out for it after their French Open quarter-final last season.

This is a tricky discussion. The medical time out rule remains a contentious point in tennis, and as you can never prove whether or not your opponent is legitimately in pain there’s often no point in discussing it.

You’d be a fool to argue that nobody takes advantage of the medical time out, but is it really so hard to believe that the most prolific winner in the history of the sport might actually be losing a match due to pain or discomfort?

If you dig around you’ll find plenty of footage of Djokovic losing matches, mostly without an medical time out, and every notable name in the sport has had to call for the trainer at some point, even amid controversy.

In the 2014 Australian Open final, Nadal took an medical time out after falling behind a set and a break to Wawrinka. He did so without explanation, and Wawrinka became irate when chair umpire Carlos Ramos could not provide a reason in accordance with the rules.

After Wawrinka won the final, people did not scrutinise Nadal for seeking treatment while trailing the scoreboard. In fact, most media outlets heavily emphasised Nadal’s injury, and most fans denounced Wawrinka as lucky to win his first grand slam. Certainly the passage of time has proven he was anything but.

In their semi-final meeting in the 2017 Australian Open, both Federer and Wawrinka took medical time outs: Wawrinka after Federer won the first two sets, Federer after Wawrinka won the next two.

(Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)

In the 2018 Australian Open women’s final, Caroline Wozniacki and Simona Halep both took medical time outs with no obvious injury. But given Wozniacki’s history with acute cramping and Halep’s unprecedented gruelling run to the final, nobody asked questions. It tracked with logic that they’d both struggle with pain in a three-set final.

Even Pablo Carreño Busta – yes, the same Pablo Carreño Busta who called out Djokovic after their Roland Garros quarter-final – took consecutive injury breaks in the quarters and semis of the US Open last year, each time after losing the fourth set.

Whether or not we believe any of these great players were truly injured isn’t the point. The point is that none of them have had these medical time outs constantly thrown in their faces for more than a year after they occurred.

Djokovic played a five-set thriller with Taylor Fritz at this year’s Australian Open. At one point while returning the talented young American’s serve, Djokovic slipped on the Melbourne emblem behind the baseline. He grimaced as he got up, and before too long, took an medical time out for treatment. He ultimately won in five sets, and later revealed to the press that he’d torn an abdominal muscle.

This medical time out became a narrative repeated ad nauseam for the remainder of the tournament: ‘the great Djokovic once again calls for the trainer when things get difficult’. When he won the final by way of a commanding victory over Daniil Medvedev, the same people snickered, concluding that his phantom injury had magically disappeared.

What these critics didn’t seem to know was that Djokovic was not trailing when he slipped in his match against Fritz. On the contrary, he was leading two sets to love, and scores stood at 1-1 in the third set. There wasn’t even a break of serve to intimate some level of momentum for his opponent.

It should come as no surprise that the haters were ill-informed. For what might actually be a legitimate gripe with the great Serb, this propensity to ignore the facts greatly undermines their argument.

Of course, nobody is beyond scrutiny. In fact, at times, we openly bring it upon ourselves, and Djokovic is not exempt. His now infamous Adria tournament was at best ill-considered, and at worst, downright idiotic and an act of sheer complacency when we didn’t yet know enough about this virus.

For many of his fans it was disappointing. For some fence-sitters it might well have swayed them against him. But it would be absurd to suggest that all the hate directed at Djokovic stems from this in the early stages of this pandemic.

The truth is, to a certain demographic out there, it doesn’t matter what Djokovic does. They will project their hate onto it no matter what.

Many others simply prefer Federer or Nadal (or both), and that’s fine.

But it’s time to do away with all the false narratives.

Djokovic’s achievements will never diminish the accomplishments of Federer and Nadal, and by his own admission, Djokovic wouldn’t be who he is without them.

The triumvirate of the virtuoso, the gladiator and the machine has reigned supreme over men’s tennis since 2003. It is a perfect clash of personalities, skills and styles.

It’s well beyond time for tennis fans to come to terms with Djokovic’s place alongside the other two, without exception.

The Crowd Says:

2021-09-22T13:36:42+00:00

Bell31

Roar Rookie


Fair enough – I didn’t watch the game, but from all accounts, Medvedev was on fire, but as is usually the case, there are 2 angles to look at it from, and it just seemed a bit un-Novak like, as he is a true competitor. I hadn’t thought about the unique scheduling – that probably really explains why Novak was underdone – that’s a good point really. I certainly didn’t put too much importance on his Olympics losses – yes it’s nice to win a medal for their country, but I’d argue it’s still a ways behind a grand slam. And no, the GOAT debate isn’t going anywhere – but it probably would’ve, to some extent, if Nole had won the grand slam. I’m very clear that my evaluation of GOAT has absolutely nothing to do with whether or not I like a player – there can’t be any question that Novak is Fed and Rafa’s equal – the stats don’t lie. I’d just prefer he doesn’t get ahead of them…! Btw, one GOAT debate point that I’m less familiar with is the idea of how great a player was at his peak, which one article I read recently used to say that the GOAT debate is only between Novak and Fed (due to Fed’s mid-2000s run) and Nadal isn’t in that equation. That’s feels like a debate about the GOATIE (greatest of all time in an era)!

AUTHOR

2021-09-20T00:17:01+00:00

Rik J

Roar Rookie


I tend to think of it more as Medvedev winning. He was absolutely inspired. Regardless of the gravity of the occasion, Novak could have beaten just about any other player that day, spotty form and all. And no, that's not surprising. If you look back over our conversation regarding the Olympics, I'd tipped Daniil as the most likely candidate to beat Novak then. In terms of his slow starts, I'd say the unique scheduling probably contributed to that. When Steffi won the Golden Slam back in '88 the Olympics came after the US Open. In Novak's case they came two weeks after Wimbledon, which due to Covid came two weeks after Roland Garros. He was therefore entering tournaments underdone. He lost three times on clay before Roland Garros alone, it was weird to see people piling so much importance into his two losses at the Olympics. The GOAT debate isn't going to go away, especially if Novak is the first to reach 21 slams. Everyone has their favourites and will try to twist the variables in their favour. Others just don't like Novak and will try to twist the variables against him. But my objective was never to write a post hailing Novak's credentials in the GOAT debate, it was to compel people to just consider him Fed and Rafa's equal as a tennis great (which many people are still loath to do). If it's due to smashing racquets, fine. But in most cases it isn't. It can't be, because all the people not wanting Novak to win were more than happy to cheer for Daniil despite his hot temper and tendency to smash equipment to smithereens.

2021-09-17T03:23:18+00:00

Bell31

Roar Rookie


Hi @Rik J - what did you make of Novak losing the US open final? I wasn't all that surprised, after he lost at the Olympics and then kept dropping a set most matches in the lead-up to the final --- it's such an unbelievably tough thing to achieve the Grand Slam and arguably, tougher than when Laver did it in 1969 (given 3 slams were then on Grass and my guess is that Aussie open wasn't well attended by overseas players). I think he just ran out of steam in the end. As you'd guess, I was kind of relieved he didn't succeed, as given the enormity of the achievement, in my view, it would put to rest, probably once and for all, any GOAT discussions! (and probably for a long time too)

2021-08-02T06:23:56+00:00

Bell31

Roar Rookie


That’s true – I thought the recent events were relevant to our recent postings. Just for posterity, I’m not part of the Rafa or Fed faithful (I’m more an interested observer), so it’s probably more a growing disillusionment with Novak. I deliberately excluded Novak breaking his racquet against the net post as that seemed a pretty common occurrence (as per your comment re Sascha’s behaviour), but I can’t really justify throwing a racquet into the stands as typical tennis behaviours (esp given other incidents). Also, the ‘default’ for physical injury might be seen as a bit odd, given he’d just played an intense match and given it was playing for a medal for his country. Anyway, moving on. I do give the new gen a genuine chance, but really, the biggest obstacle facing Novak, as we probably just saw at the Olympics is fatigue and probably a decent slice of luck — winning 1 grand slam is hard enough — winning 4 — everything needs to go his way, including a full gas tank!

AUTHOR

2021-08-01T00:27:39+00:00

Rik J

Roar Rookie


Hey, I thought you said we were gonna reconnect after the US Open! To be honest, I didn't think you were giving the next gen enough of a chance when you made your previous comments about Novak's campaign for the grand slam. Before the Olympics I was tipping Medvedev as most likely to stop Novak, especially best of three. Yep, as I stated in my post, these behaviours are not desirable, but they are human. It's interesting that the Rafa and Fed faithful were so delighted with Zverev beating Novak that they either forgave or totally overlooked Sascha for slamming his racquet down in frustration, hitting a ball out of the park (who knows who it could have landed on for heaven's sake) and yelling out in frustration. It makes one wonder how much these things really do bother people, or how much it's just a convenient excuse presented on a silver platter.

2021-07-31T17:21:25+00:00

Bell31

Roar Rookie


@Rik J – re Olympics, it’s really hard to feel positive towards Joker when he throws a racquet into the stands (I know they were mainly empty, but you think he might be a little more judicious after the linesman incident) and then defaults from the mixed doubles (I know – it might be legit, but his team didn’t want him to play mixed doubles in the first place – and then to default doesn’t look great from a few perspectives, including his doubles partner).

2021-07-21T17:18:03+00:00

Bell31

Roar Rookie


The nexus with Fed/Nadal is simply b/c he’s competing with them for modern-era GOAT status (and it will be a long time before anyone other than these 3 gets talked about in that context!)

AUTHOR

2021-07-21T07:35:44+00:00

Rik J

Roar Rookie


Okay... just kinda seemed like you didn't want him being better then those two specifically lol.

2021-07-21T04:38:16+00:00

Bell31

Roar Rookie


No I wouldn't begrudge him overtaking them - it is what it is and if he is good enough to get the calendar slam or lead in overall slams then he deserves that accolade - I'd just prefer I don't have to acknowledge him as the undisputed goat!

AUTHOR

2021-07-20T18:03:56+00:00

Rik J

Roar Rookie


Hey, thanks! I appreciate you recommending it to others!

AUTHOR

2021-07-20T18:02:19+00:00

Rik J

Roar Rookie


Sounds good! Although, just for the record, you would begrudge Novak for overtaking Roger and Rafa in the slam race?

2021-07-20T08:21:31+00:00

Bell31

Roar Rookie


PS let's re-connect post US open --- I'm hoping that other than injury (or being disqualified for 'inappropriate' winning celebrations - lol), he gets beaten before he can claim a Calendar Slam and lay waste to any claims of Fed/Nadal being on the same level as him!! (sigh, I feel like he might do it too, to my chagrin).

2021-07-20T08:17:30+00:00

Bell31

Roar Rookie


I don't recall the 'not too bad' interview, so I've lost the context of that humour :). I think (and maybe I'm mistaken?) that your article seemed to imply people felt neutral to Novak before he started beating Fed/Nadal - I certainly didn't feel that way and that's what I was referring to by providing a more rounded narrative - in any case, it's not crucial to your article. I don't actually have a 'barrow to push' --- I was just explaining why some people, like myself as an example, might not be a fan of Novak. For me, it's just been a combination of behaviours over the years probably culminating in the Adria tour. I've probably only become aware in recent times that I'm really not a fan, but acknowledge that I'm sure there are other altruisitc behaviours that might present a different picture of him. The 'throwing the hearts' is not a reason I dislike him per se - it just makes me cringe and feel like he doesn't quite 'get' how to connect with his audience, which is part of the reason I think he appears to be not as well liked as say Fed. In any case, it doesn't really matter, as he's a truly successful sportsperson and can probably live with some dislike --- look at how McEnroe has rehabilitated his image over the years - lol

AUTHOR

2021-07-20T05:21:35+00:00

Rik J

Roar Rookie


@MM Those are some interesting insights, thank you! He does try to speak up for lower ranked players and this was the source of his now infamous "list of demands" from the Aussie Open. Their intentions were good in organising the Adria tour, especially as a charity event. And there were several notable players there, not just Novak. But given the difficulties the pandemic has placed upon people's lives all over the globe, I fully understand the anger and frustration. But as I've mentioned to others, that was very recent. While some are justifiably angry, for others it's just a convenient excuse. It doesn't fully explain why he's dealt with the crowd treatment you cited for so many years. I'll never forget championship point at the 2015 US Open, when he won the championship and, rather than celebrating, spun towards the hecklers in the crowd with the ice eye.

2021-07-20T05:07:16+00:00

John

Guest


Rick, just a follow up since I last commented: I liked the article so much that I told many friends about it. Guess what? If you google Novak Djokovic and look under news, your article doesn’t come up any more. If you flick through the list backwards in terms of previous pages, still not there! It’s like someone deliberately made it almost impossible to come across it unless you type in the actual heading of the article. This doesn’t surprise me. But it does show what you’re up against when writing positive things about Novak.

AUTHOR

2021-07-20T04:45:34+00:00

Rik J

Roar Rookie


@Tony Fair enough! Likewise, Rafa was notorious for extremely long breaks between points until the inception of the serve clock.

AUTHOR

2021-07-20T04:43:26+00:00

Rik J

Roar Rookie


I did set out to argue a point of view. There's no ambiguity whatsoever in the title of my article. I stand by the content, and I think the view is valid, as backed up by examples and quotes. Likewise, you seem to have your own barrow to push. You're right, it is easy to rebut the vast majority of reasons people dream up to scrutinise Novak. But I mainly did that because you provided a list. As for the people who cite a combination of behaviours as their reasons for disliking him, I addressed that directly towards the end of my article. "The truth is, to a certain demographic out there, it doesn’t matter what Djokovic does. They will project their hate onto it no matter what." Case in point: you've cited his "throwing the hearts" celebration. I must admit, you caught me out there. I'd never have dreamt to include his post match attempt to thank the spectators as a reason people dislike him. Agassi used to blow kisses and bow to every part of the crowd. And, although I don't place OP of this thread into the same camp, it's odd that he cited Novak's diet as a possible reason. It's baffling that anyone would take umbrage to what he chooses to eat when he's miles away from the nearest TV camera. I'm not trying to spin an angle in suggesting that people dislike Novak for his success against Fed and Rafa. It's well known and the reporter's question proves it. He may have been looking for a headline but he didn't pull that question out of thin air. Finally, I must ask: how would it have rounded out my argument to include his impressions? I don't see how that would have provided any more context to the content of the article. I could have prefaced a sentence with it: "Despite Novak's funny impressions, Australians had fallen utterly in love with the charismatic young Frenchman"... Or "Federer was the king of tennis, Rafa the king of clay, and Djokovic was known for his funny impressions" (in a bit more detail of course). It does not mitigate any of the ensuing points I made. Especially as Novak is still personable and funny in interviews when he's not getting asked abrasive questions. his exchanges with Italian journalist Ubaldo Scanagatta, for example. You probably remember the famous "not too bad" interview at the 2019 Australian Open. Arguably even funnier was last year when they resurrected the joke... "No you have to say 'not too bad' it's not me" "No I want you to say it... 'not too..." "Not too bad!"

2021-07-19T15:57:57+00:00

Bell31

Roar Rookie


Thanks for the detailed reply. i think it was more the tone / focus of your article - it seemed to wanted to diminish why some fans might not like Novak and attribute some of that to eg challenging Fed/Nadal. It's easy to rebut individual examples (striking linesperson, MTOs) etc, but I suspect, for many, it's the overall combination of behaviours that has turned some fans off Novak (rather than challenging Nadal/Fed) - it has for me. Re the celebration - no issue with the bestial scream but the 'giving the heart' to all sections of the court makes me want to change channels... Re early career narrative - you're obviously aware of it, but I think it would've rounded out your argument more if you provided some more context re how he was more popular earlier in his career. Yes, the 'bad guy' was a question looking for a headline. Again, thanks for an interesting article - I think, to me, it just probably felt at times like you wanted to argue one point of view, possibly b/c the Novak narrative feels unfairly one-sided

2021-07-19T13:01:19+00:00

MM

Guest


Good article. I would like to add a couple of things. Adria tour was a disaster and a misjudgement on Djokovic’s side but it was approved by the Croatian government and it was held legally, so it is not fair that Djokovic is the sole person to blame. Since then, after thousands of deaths caused by COVID, we have seen many events where similar things happen and no one is talking about it. For example Euro 2021. Multiple soccer players were tested COVID positive and their teams just kept playing. The second thing that I want to mention is that perhaps Djokovic nationality has something to do with him not being liked (in Western Europe, Australia and US). Culturally he is different. As an Eastern European myself, I experience somewhat of an unequal treatment myself quite often. But that is just how life is. There are many interesting things about Djokovic that are not spoken about much. His story is an interesting one and his charity work is amazing. One other thing that I respect about him is that he stands up for lower ranked players. Finally, I am not a great fan of Djokovic and dislike some of his antics but find his treatment by the crowd and some journalists simply unfair.

2021-07-19T04:57:58+00:00

Tony

Guest


Hes a great Tennis player for sure once the balls in play - but him getting the ball in play when hes serving is a major problem for all of his opponents who arnt asleep by the time he serves. The incessant ball bouncing before serving is a major problem Marin Cilic is the same. You watch Rog - 2 to 3 bounces as he sets himself and he serves. Djokovich up to 18 bounces drives me nuts - Cant watch him - cheers Tony

More Comments on The Roar

Read more at The Roar