Thursday, 30 June 2011

Novak Djokovic - Ambitions & Dreams

Courtesy & video here

Should he beat Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and get to the men's singles final, Novak Djokovic will become number one in the world rankings. That, he says, is his ambition. But to actually win the Wimbledon title, he adds, is something different - it's his dream.

Whether ambition will be fulfilled and the dream will come true depends on whether the 24-year-old Serb can improve his career record against the burly Frenchman, who is one of the few men who could go into a match with Djokovic right now with reason to feel confident.

The man from Le Mans leads the Belgrade native 5-2 in the career head-to-head. What's even more resounding is that Tsonga has won the last five of those contests.

Of course, none of those matches were in this calendar year, as Djokovic has proved - with only one exception - unbeatable in 2011, with 46 wins out of 47 matches played.

Even so, Djokovic is cautious about his prospects, particularly given that the Frenchman is coming off the back of a huge win against the only man to have beaten the Serb this year: Djokovic says: "He is very dangerous. He had an amazing comeback against Federer, he served well and played well, and he's been playing great in the grass court season so far.

"We are both baseliners so a lot will depend on our serves. I need to serve well because that's something that he's going to do. His game depends on that serve. If he starts missing first serves then I will have more chance in the rallies. But I expect a very, very even match."

The statistics underline what Djokovic means. So far Tsonga has landed 96 aces in five matches compared to Djokovic's 49 and has come to the net far more frequently. Also, as the second seed points out, Tsonga takes to the grass surface more readily than he does. "But I still know I can play on it," says the man who has reached two other Wimbledon semi-finals in the last four years.

None of this would have happened if Novak's parents had not scraped together the money to send their son to a tennis academy in Germany when he was 13. "If I had stayed in Serbia I don't think you would have heard of me," he says.

No matter what else he achieves in the sport, he is assured of hero status in Serbia. When he helped his country to win the Davis Cup for the first time against France in Belgrade last December, half the country's population tuned it to watch on TV.

That sensational victory proved the launchpad for Djokovic's sprint towards the world number one ranking.

By then he had already decided to "start being myself again", putting behind him unexplained rough times in his private life. Taking Rafael Nadal's behaviour on and off court as an example, he says he decided "it was more important for me to be a good person than a good tennis player."

The tennis part was by no means overlooked, however, and towards that end he built around him a team which is regarded as the best in the business.

The former Slovakian player Marjan Vajda had been his coach since 2005 and, after Djokovic briefly employed the American Todd Martin to help improve his serving, he went back to Vajda. Also in Team Djokovic are his physical trainer Milan Amanovic, and Igor Cetojevic, a nutritionist who has been travelling with the team since March. "I have unreserved faith in their instructions and trust them completely," he says.

Improving the serve has been the main Djokovic target, adding speed and spite and ironing out the motion until it has become one of the most consistent in tennis. He has also copied Nadal's aggressive style so well that he has beaten Rafa in all four of their meetings this year.
Perhaps he will make it five if they meet in the final, but first Djokovic has to surmount that massive hurdle of Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.

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