Saturday, 30 April 2011
A message from Novak's Facebook page:
Bad news. Janko had to pull out from tonight's semi final match,because of muscle injury. I sincerely hope he will manage to recover for the rest of the clay court season. Final is tomorrow at 16h. I will try to get the tittle back where it belongs,and that is SERBIA ! :-)
Excellent photos, news & articles.
At the suggestion of His Grace Bishop of Raska-Prizren Teodosija, Djokovic was recognised for his passion for the church, displayed through his committed and persistent help for Serbian people and the sanctuaries of the Holy Church, particularly in Kosovo and Metohija.
"This award is certainly the most important I’ve ever got," said Djokovic. "As an athlete and a religious person, it is hard for me to find appropriate words to describe my feelings of gratitude for the confidence I gain from the Holy Synod. I can only say that it can be earned only with hard work and self-belief, belief in your loved ones and in God."
In addition to Djokovic’s family, the formal reception was attended by Their Graces Bishops, the members of the Holy Synod of Bishops of the Serbian Orthodox Church, Metropolitan Amfilohije of Montenegro and the Littoral and Bishops Irinej of Backa and Forije of Dalmatia. The handing of the order was observed by Their Graces Bishops Teodosije of Raska-Prizren, Atanasije of Hvosno, Porfirije of Jegar, as well as Mladjan Djordjevic, the Adviser to the President of the Republic of Serbia.
Thursday, 28 April 2011
Wednesday, 27 April 2011
Tuesday, 26 April 2011
The more Rafael Nadal plays on clay, the more he looks to be unbeatable this season. Claiming his sixth Barcelona title over the weekend, even Nadal observed that his level of play had improved since the previous week, when he had earned his record seventh consecutive title in Monte Carlo. But as the tennis world bows to the unstoppable clay-court king, world No. 2 Novak Djokovic is confident that he can end the Spaniard's reign.
"I am playing with a lot more confidence against him these days," Djokovic told reporters today at the Serbia Open. He did not downplay Nadal's mastery on clay, however, acknowledging that defeating the world No. 1 would be exceptionally difficult.
"I now believe I can beat anyone on any surface, although beating Nadal on clay remains a big task and the biggest challenge of all," he said. "Down the years, as Nadal kept ripping apart everything in front of him on red clay, we always thought there was no room left for improvement in his game and he kept surprising us. He is still the player to beat [on clay] and the favorite in each of the upcoming events, including the French Open, because he is so dominant on this surface."
Djokovic added that his newfound confidence and consistency against top players such as Nadal and Federer have been key improvements in his game.
"I feel more confident and more consistent because I am capable of holding my own against the world's best players under any circumstances. That wasn't the case earlier [in my career] … whenever I needed to be consistent against Federer and Nadal in the latter stages of Grand Slam events, I was unable to stay psychologically balanced and confident."
Djokovic, who has a bye into the second round of the Serbia Open, has not competed since his three-set victory over Nadal in Miami last month.
"I needed the extra two weeks of rest to recover from a grueling hard-court season, a surface which is not very pleasant for knees and tendons, but I am ready now," he said.
On Wednesday, the top seed will compete against the winner of the match between Ruben Ramirez Hidalgo of Spain and qualifier Adrian Ungur of Romania.
Many have pointed to the undefeated Serbian superstar as Nadal's greatest competition this year, although he has yet to beat Nadal on clay and Nadal leads their career match-ups, 16-9.
Nevertheless, the improvements to Djokovic's game this year have been undeniable, and his confident attitude is heartening for those who wish to see Nadal face a true challenge on clay this season.
Do you believe in Djokovic? What must he do to beat Nadal?
Monday, 25 April 2011
Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremic handed the passports over to the Serbian men's team which, led by Novak Djokovic - won the nation's first-ever Davis Cup in December.
Serbia's two leading tennis ladies, Ana Ivanovic and Jelena Jankovic, both of whom briefly topped the WTA list, also received diplomatic passports.
After years of facing restrictive in virtually all Western countries, Serbian nationals have been facing more relaxed criteria since most of the European Union allowed them visa- free entry in late 2009.
BELGRADE (Reuters) - A change of diet has played a major role in Novak Djokovic's unbeaten run this year, the world number two said Monday after receiving a hero's welcome from fans in his home town.
The 23-year-old Serb, who has won 24 straight matches to land the Australian Open and Dubai Championship titles and Masters Series events in Miami and Indian Wells, said a doctor who joined his team eight months ago had improved his fitness.
"His name is Igor Cetojevic, he is a nutritionist and he's done a great job in changing my diet after we established I am allergic to some food ingredients like gluten," Djokovic told reporters on the opening day of the Serbia Open.
"It means I can't eat stuff like pizza, pasta and bread. I have lost some weight but it's only helped me because my movement is much sharper now and I feel great physically.
"A lot of people have been guessing and speculating what the secret formula of my good form was but there is no secret, it's just that all the pieces have fallen into place after years of hard work and we are now reaping the rewards," added Djokovic.
The Serb paid tribute to his entire support staff, saying it was their hard work that had made him the player he is.
"I have a great team of people around me," he said. "I have unreserved faith in their instructions and trust them completely.
"I have also matured as a player and a person. I feel more confident and more consistent than ever because I am capable of holding my own against the world's best players under any circumstances.
"That wasn't the case earlier ... whenever I needed to be consistent against (Roger) Federer and (Rafa) Nadal in the latter stages of grand slam events I was unable to stay psychologically balanced and confident."
Djokovic is back in Belgrade for the first time since he steered Serbia to their first Davis Cup title in December and was greeted by hundreds of fans as he made a trip to nearby Mount Avala to pose with the massive Serbia Open trophy.
He had photos taken and signed dozens of autographs as the crowd greeted one of Serbia's most popular public figures.
"The Serbia Open will always have a special place in my heart because we rarely get a chance to play in front of our own people, it's only this tournament and the Davis Cup," said Djokovic.
"That's why I expect them to turn up on center court to watch all Serbian players taking part in the tournament, which is getting stronger and more competitive every year.
"I had to retire very early in last year's event because I was unfit but I feel very well now and I am looking forward to my first match Wednesday."
Djokovic, given a bye in the first round of the tournament organized by the Family Sport enterprise managed by his father and uncle, is looking to capture his second Serbia Open title after winning the inaugural event in 2009.
His first red clay event of the season could be the springboard which helps him dethrone world number one Nadal.
"Down the years as Nadal kept ripping apart everything in front of him on red clay, we always thought there was no room left for improvement in his game and he kept surprising us every time," Djokovic said.
"He is still the player to beat on red clay and the favorite in each of the upcoming major events, including the French Open, because he is so dominant on this surface.
"However, I am playing with a lot more confidence against him these days and I now believe I can beat anyone on any surface, although beating Nadal on clay remains a big ask and the biggest challenge of all."
The Spaniard won his sixth Barcelona Open title last week and his seventh successive Monte Carlo Masters earlier this month, events Djokovic missed due to a knee problem.
"I needed the extra two weeks of rest to recover from a grueling hardcourt season, a surface which is not very pleasant for knees and tendons, but I am ready now," the Serb said.
Sunday, 24 April 2011
Saturday, 23 April 2011
A charity football game, featuring tennis stars in Serbia Open team and celebrities in the Stars team, will take place on Saturday, April 23, at 2pm, as one of many activities at the Serbia Open 2011 tennis tournament.
It will be a match in which a win won’t have significance, but a great desire and big heart of participants to help those in need.
Novak Djokovic, Viktor Troicki, Janko Tipsarevic and Nenad Zimonjic with the Serbia Open team and Savo Milosevic, Vlade Divac, Dragan Jovanovic, Bata Mirkovic, Ivan Tomic, Nenad Jestrovic, with the team of Stars will try to gather all people of good will and help the National association of parents of children with cancer (NURDOR) in order to raise funds for a project intended to support families of children suffering from cancer.
Fun for kids: Kids Day
Union of Tennis Professionals of Serbia will organise programme for the youngest – Kids Day, on April 23, 2011, starting at 3pm.
Tennis 10s, a part of the ITF's 'Tennis Play and Stay' campaign, will be presented during the Kids Day. The programme is designed to increase participation among the 10-and-under age group, to make tennis easier and more fun for children, and to ensure that competition at this age is appropriate.
Children will have opportunity to play real tennis and have fun.
Andrijana Tasic and Nemanja Oliveric, Bosko Buha theatre actors, will be hosts!
Courtesy: Official Website
Like all great tennis players before him, Novak Djokovic, the wiry, elastic-limbed 23-year-old who began 2011 with 24 consecutive victories, is an anomaly. Few sports have the global talent pool of tennis, so an ascent to the game's peak requires inordinate athleticism, ambition, mental fortitude and luck.
It also helps if you're from Serbia.
In the last three years, this landlocked country the size of Maine, with a population of 7.3 million, has produced some of the finest tennis players in the world. Two Serbian women, Ana Ivanovic, who won the French Open in 2008, and Jelena Jankovic, have attained the No. 1 ranking.
Serbia is a small nation of just 7.3 million, but it's churning out a disproportionate number of top-level tennis players. The country's star player, Novak Djokovic, is unbeaten this year and is eyeing a chance for the world's No. 1 spot at the French Open.
It's Mr. Djokovic, though, who has put his country atop the tennis world. Once known more for his comical impersonations of fellow players than his winning ways, he has emerged from the long shadows of Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer, who until this year were the world's two best players by leaps and bounds.
Mr. Djokovic won his second Australian Open title in January and hasn't lost a match since last November, just before he led a talented Serbian squad to its first-ever victory in the Davis Cup, the sport's premier team competition. He is off to the finest start to a year by a male player since Ivan Lendl won 29 straight matches in 1986, and he's on the hunt for more. After resting during this week's Monte Carlo event, Mr. Djokovic will begin a much-anticipated clay-court campaign at the Serbia Open, where qualifying rounds begin next weekend. Then comes Madrid, and Rome, and starting late next month, he will challenge Mr. Nadal, perhaps the best clay-court player ever, for the French Open title and the No. 1 ranking. (If he passes Mr. Lendl, the remaining year-to-date streak to catch is John McEnroe's 42 in 1984.)
In February, Djokovic beat Roger Federer in Dubai.
With Nadal after a physically intense final in Miami.
Winning January's Australian Open, his second major.
The rise of Mr. Djokovic and his fellow Serbs seems improbable. For many, Serbia's hard-bitten homeland is seen as a liability. But for wealthier nations, and for parents bent on grooming their children for athletic success, Serbia's tennis players offer a lesson: In youth sports—even sports with complicated technique, like tennis—less can often be more.
Tiger Mom-style parenting did not create the Serbian tennis boom. The families of the country's top players sacrificed much for their children, but they did not take on the tricky, and often emotionally devastating, role of parent-coach, as one sometimes sees in junior tennis in the U.S. and elsewhere. They haven't been the driving force behind their children's hours of practice, either; indeed, they usually had little to no connection to tennis whatsoever.
"No one in my family knew anything about tennis," Ms. Ivanovic says. She started playing just before her fifth birthday (she had seen Monica Seles on television) and didn't begin elite training until she was 14. Ms. Jankovic did not start to play until she was 9. Mr. Djokovic's family has roots in skiing and soccer, not tennis.
When one visits Serbia's tennis clubs, a loose training method emerges, one that stresses competition and fun, and doesn't advocate long, grueling practices in early childhood. National pride and camaraderie among players, not the norm in an individual sport like tennis, are apparent, too.
Today, Serbia still has a weak tennis infrastructure. There are no more than 450 tennis courts in the country, according to the Serbian Tennis Federation. Last year, the federation had 3,300 registered junior players. The U.S. Tennis Association has 165,000. Tennis is still less popular than basketball and perhaps soccer.
"There was no system that brought us up," Mr. Djokovic says. "It was just us and our families, that's it."
Equipped with an improved serve, a formidable return of serve and a body that coils and contorts in seemingly impossible ways, Mr. Djokovic followed up his success in Australia with wins in Indian Wells, Calif., and in Miami, where he defeated Mr. Nadal in consecutive finals. But it was how Mr. Djokovic won those matches that impressed the most, especially in the Miami heat. Both times he lost the first set and then beat Mr. Nadal at his own grinding, physical game.
"Nothing left in my body right now," Mr. Nadal said after the Miami final. "Ten T-shirts today."
Like Mr. Nadal, Mr. Djokovic is a modern hybrid of two kinds of player: the slugger (think Andre Agassi) and the scrambler (Michael Chang). He slides on hard courts and retrieves shots headed far and wide, yet he can produce brilliant offense from positions of seeming desperation. Though there have been longer winning streaks in tennis, Mr. Djokovic's is unusually dominant. So far this year, he has won seven sets without losing a game.
"He's crushing us," Mardy Fish said after losing to Mr. Djokovic in Miami.
As impressive as Mr. Djokovic's individual success has been this year, it fittingly began with a team victory for Serbia. After the country's Davis Cup victory in December, residents of Belgrade, the capital city, took to the streets for fireworks and two nights of revelry that were impressive even for this haven of dance clubs and bars. The Lonely Planet travel guide once dubbed Belgrade the best party city in the world. It's a reputation Serbs prefer to being known for a multitude of wars.
As the former Yugoslavia broke apart and communist governments were replaced, the conflicts of the 1990s shattered the Balkans. The late Serbian President Slobodan Milosovic was charged with war crimes by an international tribunal. At that time, today's tennis stars were children.
Serb It Up
Members of the Serbian national tennis team, top, celebrate after winning the country's first-ever Davis Cup.
The Serbs speak of their legacy with dark humor. As a guide casually announced during a tour of the city last December, "Belgrade leads all cities in the world in the number of times it has been destroyed to the ground." Their nation continues to struggle. Unemployment was 19.2% as of last October, according to the U.S. State Department. Inflation was 14.1% year-over-year as of March. Average monthly net income: $440.
"When people look at the whole picture, they say, 'Milosevic is in power, Serbia is a country that's completely falling apart, people are not making money,' " says Janko Tipsarevic, a top-40 player and member of the Serbian Davis Cup team. "I didn't feel any of that. At the age of 12, 13, 14, you have really simple needs: to hang out with friends and play tennis, the thing you love the most at the time. I didn't care for anything else."
Mr. Tipsarevic took up tennis at age 6 and played other sports. He didn't have a home club until he was 11, when his father, Pavel, who still teaches physical education in a school, and a few friends had an idea: Carpet over an empty, indoor swimming pool at the April 11 Sports Center. Two tennis courts, plus two mini courts, were born, and Mr. Tipsarevic and others, including Ms. Ivanovic, now had a place to play regularly.
The swimming-pool courts have become a symbol for Serbian triumph over obstacles: Not only did they play through war and economic chaos, they did it on crummy courts.
Just as the image of teens dodging bombs while practicing backhands is exaggerated, a visit to the complex leaves a different impression. The courts are for singles only, and the outer lines are close to the walls, but otherwise they are much like those one would find anywhere. The lines are correctly measured, the nets are the proper height. Balls bounce cleanly and quickly off the carpet.
Ms. Ivanovic says of the courts of her childhood: "When you have perfect facilities, perfect coaches, perfect preparation, many times it doesn't happen. You feel like, 'Oh, now I have to do it,' and you forget that you play because you love it."
Dusko Vujinovic has taught tennis at the April 11 complex for 18 years. (On April 11, 1948, ground was broken on the New Belgrade section of the city.) He now works with Anastasija Cobanovic, 13, one of Serbia's top juniors, who goes to school and plays tennis eight to 10 hours a week.
"In academies in Spain, France, America, kids her age practice at least four hours a day," Mr. Vujinovic says. "I don't agree with that—it's too much for them."
Even with the best facilities, technology, instruction and competition, some training environments are too high-pressure, say some analysts. Small cities with populations of 50,000 to 100,000 produce far more than their share of elite athletes in professional football, golf, baseball, hockey and basketball, according to Jean Côté, director of the School of Kinesiology and Health Studies at Queen's University, in Kingston, Ontario, who has studied athletic success in the U.S., Canada and Australia.
Children in these smaller cities usually have more access to outdoor space and more freedom to play many sports without intense supervision, says Dr. Côté. The better athletes among them also might benefit, at least at early ages, from beating lesser opponents, which builds confidence. In densely populated cities, Dr. Côté says, space is at a premium and athletic programs tend toward early-age specialization and intense coaching, which he says can stifle creativity and lead to injuries and burnout.
"Young children don't have to have the best facilities and the best coaches," Dr. Côté says. "All they need is a place to play and the freedom to do it."
Though Belgrade has a population of 1.7 million, it functioned as a smaller city for its tennis players. Mr. Tipsarevic could play whenever he liked, because his father, who had three jobs at the time, was a secretary at the April 11 club. In lieu of a salary he secured unlimited access for his son. Even so, Mr. Tipsarevic did not log the hours he would have at a prestigious tennis academy.
"I don't think I played that much, but I was really serious and my parents weren't forcing me to play," he says. "For me it was a lot of fun, because at that time I was the best. I was doing something I loved."
If Serbia's lack of a system gave its best players the freedom and desire to develop into top juniors, it also forced them to leave their country in their early teens, once they began to contemplate professional careers. Mr. Djokovic played on three hard courts near his parents' pizzeria in Kopaonik, a ski resort, then moved to Munich to train at the academy of Niki Pilic, a former Croatian pro, after his parents, Srdjan and Dijana, got up the courage and finances to send him.
"Srdjan, he put everything in," says Goran Djokovic, Mr. Djokovic's uncle, of his brother. "He gambled. So many, many things could have happened."
Goran Djokovic would prefer that future generations have to risk less. The Djokovic family plans to build an academy at Tennis Centre Novak, the posh facility it built to host the Serbia Open, so Serbia's best youngsters can train at home. During the Davis Cup, the Serbian Tennis Federation said it could break ground on a national tennis center—with clay and hard courts, a gym, a medical center and dorms for students—as soon as August.
Even if these centers succeed and spur the creation of others, Serbia's passage from small-town wonder to tennis dynasty isn't guaranteed.
"To have all these players at the same time, that's luck," says Slobodan Vojinovic, the director of tennis at the Red Star tennis club. "If we're clever enough, this generation will help us build a new one. If we're not, it could be a one-time thing."