Wednesday, 30 November 2011
Before we talk about Novak Djokovic, the best tennis player alive, let's take a minute to talk about the other guy. Pick a guy. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, for instance. In the Wimbledon semifinals, July 1. It's as good an illustration as any of what happened this year in the sport, which is to say that it is simultaneously astonishing and inadequate. Officially, at this moment, Novak Djokovic was the No. 2 tennis player in the world. Tsonga was No. 19 but on a roll, having just beaten Roger Federer.
So it's the third set, Djokovic having won the first two. Tsonga delivers a nasty, hard serve, but Djokovic handles it, a sharp return from the left baseline. On the next exchange, Djokovic hits it gently, pulling Tsonga to the net. Then he sends Tsonga the other way, for a retreating over-the-shoulder backhand. Tsonga's been up and back, and Djokovic hasn't stirred from the baseline. A few hard baseline shots later: Djokovic moves up for a passing shot, and Tsonga lunges to fight it off, falling to the grass as he dumps it softly crosscourt—where Djokovic, sprawling to the court himself, sends it back. Tsonga, only half-risen, slashes at it and hits it long.
A few measly inches, and Tsonga would have had it. Could have had it. The rally was a magnificent display of daring and agility: the shift from power to guile and back again, the final flurry that put both men on the ground. Tsonga even went on to win that set, before falling in the fourth.
But fall he did. Djokovic scattered points and matches like that behind him all year long. It took another three days, and the final against Rafael Nadal, to elevate Djokovic to the ATP's No. 1 ranking. By then, however, the ATP's calculations were merely catching up to what was already true: Suddenly, amazingly, in 2011, Novak Djokovic became the most powerful force in tennis.
Tennis was not expecting this, a year ago. Tennis did not see the need. Tennis already had written the script, and it was a perfectly satisfactory one, if you liked tennis. There, in the near court, was Roger Federer, the most wonderful and successful player anyone had ever seen, slowly beginning his natural decline as he entered his 30s. Across the net was Rafael Nadal, possibly—debatably!—superior even to Federer. Certainly younger, in his mid-20s; sleek and powerful like a Grecian statue, or a tawny replica of a Grecian statue made of expensive Iberian ham.
They would play each other, Roger and Rafa, age trying to fend off youth with grace and guts. Their rivalry would be beautiful and moving; fans would choose sides, pull for Federer to bravely turn back the clock, tell themselves they were seeing the greatest tennis in history.
Novak Djokovic? Somebody had to lose to Federer or Nadal in the semis. So bring on the rawboned Serb: a nifty returner, a locker-room cutup, a guy one ineffable degree shy of championship material. He'd won the 2008 Australian Open, OK, and he'd beaten Federer in a wild match at the U.S. Open in 2010, but he seemed to have bobbed up to his natural level. Nadal was 16-7 against him, and 5-0 in tournament finals; Federer was 13-6. To wrap up their 2010 season, both of them beat him at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals. He was 23 and ranked No. 3, and after helping pull off a Serbian victory in the Davis Cup final, he was able to close out the year on a two-match winning streak.
Then the calendar turned over, and so did the sport. Djokovic beat Nadal on grass, on clay, and on hard court, in California, Miami, Madrid, Rome, London, and New York. He beat Federer in Australia, Dubai, California—three consecutive tournaments—lost an epic match to him at the French Open, then beat him again in Flushing. Roger and Rafa seemed as excellent as ever. But Djokovic had crossed over into the world of the '85 Bears, Pedro Martinez, Usain Bolt. It didn't matter how good anyone else was.
What changed? Djokovic is in Monte Carlo, and someone has handed him a cell phone with a dying battery to answer questions about the inexplicable. "I've matured as a player," he says. "I've matured as a person. I know what to do. I know how to handle my life, my career." His training is the same as ever, he says. He has the same coaches he's had for years. He switched to a gluten-free diet, which he believes helps with his breathing and allergies, and which has introduced him to a worldwide community of people eager to recommend specialized restaurants, but he doesn't give credit to food magic.
"I just wasn't consistent enough, and I just wasn't actually believing enough that I could get it together and start winning more major events and be No. 1," he says.
Maturity, he says. During Wimbledon, as he closed in on the No. 1 ranking, he spent his time off the court trying to get a squirrel to eat out of his hand and tweeting about his progress. "The squirrel was one of my close friends in London," he says. "Unfortunately, I didn't see her after I won the title, because I wanted to celebrate it with her." You can also find video online of Djokovic's long, wry face jutting out from under a silky blonde wig, as he vamps his way through a fake commercial in the guise of Maria Sharapova.
The impressions, he says, were something he did as a young boy, after the famed tennis coach Jelena Gencic picked him out for training, the way she'd picked out Monica Seles. (This is not necessarily the biography of a regular-guy champion.) "As a kid I was creative," he says, "and I was dreaming of having one stroke out of each player who was on top of the tennis at that time, you know. Let's say Agassi's return, Sampras' serve and attitude on the court, and, I don't know, Rafter's or Edberg's volleys and forehand, and these are the strokes that I kind of imagined to have, and I impersonated those players, and that's how it started."
It's a goof, and it's not a goof. "I always try to have something that keeps my mind relaxed, keeps my mind a little bit off tennis," he says. The most electrifying thing about watching Djokovic, the quality that pulls in a casual viewer, is that even while playing at the highest level ever attained in his sport, some piece of his mind seems still to be functioning on the normal human plane. He has not turned his back on lesser life-forms, in the manner of a Michael Jordan, and vanished into a rat tunnel of competitive rage. He places another shot improbably—yet certainly—inside the line. He turns away and pumps his fist, not in abandon but with a sort of narrow-eyed, thoughtful glee. It's as if he's as awed as we are by what he can get away with.
2011 ATP-Season has been completed, as the World No.1; Novak Djokovic has arrived to the capital of Bulgaria’s, Sofia to debut his movie career in Expendables 2 along with the actor, Sylvester Stallone.
2011 Tennis player of the year, Novak Djokovic was invited by Sylvester Stallone to take part in Expendables 2.
On Wednesday, November 30, 2011, the world No.1 Serbiain, Djokovic has arrived to Sofia to take part in the shooting of cult action movie “The Expendables 2″.
Djokovic will play a minor role in the Up-coming movie along with Starring stars Sylvester tallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bruce Willis, Jean-Claude van Damme and Chuck Norris, among others.
Serbian on Wednesday has played the role of his real self – the genius tennis player. However, the protectors did not let the fans or anybody to go near Stallone and Djokovic who worked in an abandoned store house near the airport.
The shooting of ‘Expendables 2’ will be continued until Friday, as the tennis great will be there in Bulgaria for a short period to play his role in the movie and the last part of movie will be completed in China, as the Jet Li will join the cast.
Meanwhile, Novak Djokovic is enjoying his holidays on the off-court in leisure hours as a true Balkan bohemian. He spent some time in a Sofia down town casino, drank two glasses of whiskey and a couple of shots in one of Berbatov’s favourite places.
Later, Djoker took the microphone and sang some popular Balkan tunes to the greatest pleasure of the rest of the visitors and singed autographs to fans.
Saturday, 26 November 2011
Being totally honest, I am glad. He would have struggled against Roger and that is not the way to finish what has been an unforgettable year.
I believe he is now going on holiday with Janko, make sure buys the first round of drinks Novak!! Have a good rest, enjoy and we shall see you in 2012.
Friday, 25 November 2011
So, Janko finally gets his win over Novak so well done to him. I am sure these last 2 matches have been a great experience for him and a nice boost to take into next season.
Back to Novak, he now plays the waiting game and hope that Ferrer can do him a favour. To be totally honest if he does not make the Semi Final then so be it. Iike i said, he needs a break and I don't think another defeat will do him any good at all, especially as the SF would be against Roger who is in great form. Best for him to finish now and get himself off to a beach somewhere and relax.
Thursday, 24 November 2011
Was he hampered by his shoulder?
Was Ferrer just too good?
I guess if I read and watch the below I'll find out.
Full transcript available here
Wednesday, 23 November 2011
I also think of Ferrer as a Duracell Bunny running around the court. He has a lot of stamina and will be hard to out-run tonight. Hopefully Novak can have his shoulder swinging from the start and make it through without any further wear to the joint.
Tuesday, 22 November 2011
Woeful serving in the first set but he battled through saving match point along the way.
The shoulder sure got a good workout so it will be interesting to see how he feels today. Just like the matches I saw Novak play in Paris, it was a slow start. Maybe he needs time to warm up the shoulder properly and get it swinging. Time to settle is something tennis players do not have the luxury of having so he did well to come back.
Let's hope he has a easier time on Wednesday against David Ferrer.
A couple of match reports here from ESPN & the BBC
Sunday, 20 November 2011
One trophy Novak is guarenteed to pick up this week is the Year Ending World #1 Ranked Player trophy. Not sure what day he will recieve, I do believe it could be Wednesday after his second match but please don't quote me.
Andy Murray does not expect Novak to be able to repeat 2011. Concentrate on your own game please Andy.
Article in the Independent about Novak and next year.
Wednesday, 16 November 2011
As the season-ending tournament, featuring the world's top eight singles players and doubles teams, gets underway at The O2 in London this Sunday, an online charity auction is being launched which will see fans bidding for the contents of their favourite player's locker. The lockers will be personally stocked by each of the top eight singles players, including Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Andy Murray and Roger Federer, who are competing in this year's tournament.
All money raised is being split between each respective player's charity of choice, with 50% of all the proceeds going to the tournament's charity partner Save the Children.
"This is a fantastic opportunity for tennis fans to get their hands on some amazing tennis memorabilia and help the world's poorest children. You could win Andy Murray's racquet, Roger Federer's shoes or personal photographs and know your money will be helping children the world over. Please get bidding!" said Save the Children CEO Justin Forsyth.
To take a look at the lockers and the personal possessions of the players up for auction, bidders are invited to visit the exhibition taking place in the Fan Zone during the tournament at The O2.
From signed racquets, clothing and shoes, to personal items such as signed autobiographies, calendars, photographs and more, the auction provides a memorabilia goldmine for tennis enthusiasts worldwide. Bidding on the eight lockers will open throughwww.BarclaysATPWorldTourFinals.com/charity on Saturday 19 November at 5PM GMT,running throughout the course of the tournament before closing on Monday 28 November.
Tuesday, 15 November 2011
Hopefully, if fully fit, Novak should be able to at least equal last years showing of a semi final spot.
In the meantime Novak has appeared on Italian TV:
Looking ahead already to "next season" (which starts on Dec 29), Novak will play Paris runner-up Tsonga in Abu Dhabi. Full story here
Friday, 11 November 2011
Photos are here - http://www.flickr.com/photos/clare2904/
Dear fans and friends, sadly i have to inform you that i have withdrawn from the further tournament. I have pushed myself to the limit by playing, and after the match yesterday my shoulder got worse. For this reason, i have to put my health first and withdraw even though my urges as a professional player are making me want to play until the last drop of energy. I am very sorry for all of you who bought tickets and wanted to come to watch me play. My season has been long and tiring, i played all of my matches at my highest level, and now my body is aching for recovery. Hoping for your understanding and support,
We still have the World Tour Finals in London so lets hope these extra few days of rest/treatment can help Novak finish this incredible season on a high note.
Thursday, 10 November 2011
Wednesday, 9 November 2011
Read all about my day here:
Don't forget to have a look at my photos too:
N. DJOKOVIC/I. Dodig
6 4, 6 3
An interview with:
THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.
Q. I think most of us want to know what is the state of your physical fitness first with the back and now also the shoulder?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: The back? The back wasn't...
Q. It's totally okay?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yeah, no, the back wasn't in any kind of injury state. So it was only the shoulder that was a little bit troubling me in Basel, and I took the necessary measures, you know, in the last couple of days in order to recover in order to play in this tournament.
So, I mean, I'm very happy to be able to play and to win. I mean, I'm feeling good on the court, and that's what matters.
Q. Could you just talk us through now where you went and what you did between Switzerland or why did you not come...
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, I cannot say everything. I mean, something is private. But I have been back home in Monaco, and then I have been trying to recover there with a team of people.
I took a couple of days off and I came here yesterday, you know, because I wanted to take time in recovery rather than just going out on the court the sooner the better to prepare for the conditions.
I think I have played already couple weeks indoors, so, you know, I don't need to I didn't need to come before than I did actually here in Paris.
I think that the conditions this year are much slower than they were last year. So, you know, I think, you know, I've served good enough, and I feel from the back of the court well enough to be competing. That's what matters actually for this week.
Q. Given your shoulder problem, though, would you have competed here if this was not a mandatory event?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: No, I mean, depends, you know, really. At this situation, you know, I really wanted to come, because, you know, I played Basel a couple matches, but, you know, I need more matches before London.
I really like playing in Bercy. I think it's one of the most entertaining indoor tournaments, and people are coming in numbers here to watch matches. I like playing it.
So this is the last, you know, last big, you know, 1000 tournament and obviously the best players in the world are playing here. And I want to compete, and that's the reason I came here.
Q. In terms of your full level, though, your full fitness, your full ability to compete, where would you put your status right now?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, I think it's obvious that I'm still not top of my game. But I'm taking things quite slowly, you know, and taking step by step, knowing that the form will improve each day that I play.
I believe in that. I have been working quite hard in last couple of weeks after my injury, and, you know, I think things are going in the right direction.
So I want to play well here. I want to get as far as possible, and then London, you know, which is the most important tournament of this part of the year for all of us.
Q. The issue here, when I think of the bonus pool, even for someone like yourself, it's still an awful lot of money that you would have had to...
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yeah, yeah. Sorry.
Q. Well, you wouldn't be human if that wasn't a bit of an incentive.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, to be honest, it was really somehow funny for me to see how, you know, people are coming up with that story and discussing about you know, I even heard that I would get on the court and play a game, you know, just to get this money.
I mean, this is ridiculous, you know. Look, we are all athletes. This is our job. We are all playing to be paid at one stage, of course. This is normal. I don't see what's unusual in that.
On the other hand, I came here because I want to compete; I want to play a tournament. Then if I know that I'm physically good enough, in good condition to be competing, I will compete.
If I don't, I will not compete. It's as simple as that. There is nothing else that can affect my decision.
Q. Obviously you had a great year; had some problems with the body the last couple of months. Do you think you are kind of maybe just focused on 2012 already, or do you feel motivated to finish the season as strong as you started?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: No, well, I'm definitely intending to finish the season strong.
You know, maybe I'm physically paying dividends for the long season that I had, and, you know, the unfortunate injury after US Open, the Davis Cup, and everything. So I think everything is kind of catching up with me now.
But it's somehow expected, you know, after amount of the matches I played and the season length that I had.
But it's okay. You know, it's not the first time that I played this many matches. I know how to behave in these situations, and I know how to, you know I know how to have the right approach with my team, the preparation for each tournament.
Each match that I play, I really try to prepare myself 100% to win it. You know, regardless if it's a 250 event or Grand Slam, I really try to get my maximum on the court, because no one likes to lose.
Definitely I want to do well, take every day one day at a time here in Paris. I don't want to think about London or you know, it's still two very important tournaments coming up.
Q. Is it frustrating for you not to be playing your best at this point, considering how well you were playing earlier in the year?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, I guess, you know, it's always frustrating, you know, when you're not playing your best.
But on the other hand, what is helping me is being realistic and being aware of the fact that I had a six weeks' break, that it takes times getting used to the indoor conditions.
I haven't been playing indoor first tournament in Basel was after Davis Cup final in 2010, so it's quite a long time.
As I said, I'm gradually increasing the level and hopefully every day will be better.
Q. Can you talk again about the surface? Is it for you an issue that it's much slower than last year, or do you think it's well, do you have to adjust and that's all?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, to be honest, talking with a lot of players, we all, I think, agree especially the top players on the fact that the tournaments prior to the World Tour Finals should have, if not the same, then very similar speed of the surface and surface itself, as in London, you know.
Because, you know, you're preparing, playing this tournament, and last year was very tricky. You know, we came from Basel where it's, you know, medium speed; came here, which was extra, extra fast speed of the court; and then went to London, which is a bit slower than both of the tournaments.
And so that's something that can be a little bit dangerous for the player for the injury and everything, because it's a change of the pace of the ball and change of the balls and surfaces as well.
From a personal perspective, I like the court being this way rather than super fast like last year.
Q. Obviously you've got the year end world No. 1 ranking wrapped up. How much pressure has that taken off you now with this tournament and London around the corner? And tell us how you feel about that now, being year end world No. 1.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, it's a dream come true, I think, for every athlete. You know, when you dream of becoming a professional athlete I think I'm not just talking for tennis I think for every sport you dream of being the best in what you do.
That dream came true for me this year winning Wimbledon; now having the year end No. 1 ranking, it's amazing, really. I'm enjoying it.
But I know that on the other hand, I do have responsibility that is increased by this position that I have. It's a new experience for me, so I'm still getting used to everything. Hopefully I can keep it as long as I can.
Q. There are some good rules in tennis and there are some rather silly ones at times. As the No. 1 player, if you can kind of almost take yourself out of this situation, Novak, the number of matches you played this year, number of titles and Masters you won, do you think it was fair to put you in a position where people were questioning whether you were actually going out on court to actually play a match or going out for the money?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, there are a lot of stories around. It's normal, I think, when you are one of the top players that you get some attention, and things that you do on and off the court are being watched. It's normal to kind of follow that up.
But I don't want to say if it's fair or not fair. I leave it to the people. Everybody has right to and freedom to say what they want and everybody has a right for their own opinion.
But, you know, as I said before, it's you know, I came here because I'm professional tennis player and I want to compete. That's all about that is.
FastScripts by ASAP Sports
Tuesday, 8 November 2011
Monday, 7 November 2011
A link to my photos is at the bottom. I hope you all enjoy.
Thursday, 3 November 2011
I am now in Paris so I should be able to bring you all the Nole News from tomorrow.
A quick reminder that I am working for www.thetennistimes.com during Bercy where I will be publishing daily reports on all the matches, press conferences and behind the scene action. I will also be providing a link to my Flickr account for my photos.