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Archive for April 28th, 2008

Federer vs Nadal finals at Monte Carlo 2008.

Posted by tennisplanet on April 28, 2008

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Dolphin dies after collision during Sea World trick.

Posted by tennisplanet on April 28, 2008

How would you feel if you were given food ONLY if you jumped through hoops every freaking day, irrespective of how you felt or how dangerous it was for your health?

What was that movie by Mel Gibson? Apocalypse? where humans were like objects to be sacrificed and used for game to see who had the best aim to hit and kill a man on the move with a spear. All to satisfy some twisted wish of a king.

Well, we need the money to keep the economy moving. What better way to achieve it than to force creatures who cannot talk and cannot escape to perform death defying feats every freaking day?

Click here for more.

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Claire has some questions for all you freaks.

Posted by tennisplanet on April 28, 2008

Claire

1. What will the rest of this season look like for Federer?
2. What are his chances of winning French Open after seeing
his performance on clay so far this year??
3. How many (if any) GS’s do you think Federer will win this
year?
4. Do you think he will (ever) marry Mikra?
5. What does he really think of Djoko?
6. What about Jose, should he travel with Federer throughout
the clay season?

I would love to hear your valued opinions on the above questions. Thanks )

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Federer adamant he can beat Nadal on clay.

Posted by tennisplanet on April 28, 2008

Swizerland's Roger Federer waves the crowd as he leaves the court after beating Serbia's Novak Djokovic, during their semi-final match of the Monte Carlo Tennis Open tournament,  in Monaco, Saturday, April 26, 2008. Federer won  6-3, 3-2 after Djokovic retired.  

“Yes, and I have always been convinced,” said Federer, who has now lost the last three Monte Carlo finals to Nadal. “I have only beaten him once on this surface, in Hamburg last year, but that is more than enough for me to know that I can do it again.

“And I reckon this defeat proves again that yes, I do have the game to beat him. I could have played six or seven sets if I had had to and it really is a shame that the final is only a best-of-three.”

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Partner, maybe you are confusing this with golf. The ball does not have to go in the hole here!!!!!

Posted by tennisplanet on April 28, 2008

Younes El Aynaoui from Morocco reacts during his first round match against Julio Silva from Brazil at the ATP BMW open tennis tournament in Munich, southern Germany, on Monday, April 28, 2008. El Aynaoui won the match 6-4 and 6-4. . 

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Likely factors that led to Djokovic retiring prematurely against Federer at Monte Carlo.

Posted by tennisplanet on April 28, 2008

-Hype: The recent hype after his AO and Indian Wells victories that resulted in the media and many players declaring him the best player in the world, went straight into a typical 20-year olds head. Beating Federer in straight sets en route further cemented that claim. Result? Djokovic assumed he has already surpassed Federer and took it for granted.

On the other hand, the same above scenario prompted Federer to turn this match into a do or die battle. These are the matches where more than just a mere win is at stake. If you look hard, you will find many of such games and matches in sports history. These are those billboard matches that places all that has been achieved so far on the line for the incumbent. Ali’s second fight against Spinks might qualify as one such event.

Translation: The two trains met with emotions flying all over the place. If was not just another match for either one of them. The scenario Federer mentioned against his first round tomato can here – ‘faked’ – may have worked in Federer’s favor here. With Federer staggering to the final with having dropped two sets already and Djokovic turning out bagels routinely, this appeared a much easier assignment on paper for Djokovic than the AO, despite the mono BS. Federer may have ‘faked’ Djokovic just like that tomato can did in the first set against him.

-Parent factor: Federer addressing Djokovic’s parents to keep quiet, had to have figured somewhere in the picture. I mean, considering how closely knit the family appears to be, it must have sent Djokovic’s blood boiling. The only way he could get back to Federer was to defeat him once again and deny another shot at a final of a prestigious event. But he was unable to summon his game hampered by the best tennis flowing from Federer’s racket.

So not only was he seething with anger over his parents taking that humiliation, but he was taking a second whammy by getting blown off the court. The only way then, to get back to Federer was to take away all the thunder from under Federer’s win, by denying him the opportunity and the satisfaction of beating Djokovic in straight sets. He also might have thought of the previous three retirements Federer experienced to no good affect this year.

He knew very well, based on his previous track record in such situations, that he will be just asking for the wrath of fans worldwide, but at that point he couldn’t care. The insult from the two headed monster (Federer’s jab at his parents and losing in straight sets after that) more than covered and justified the booing of the fans he was expecting.

He chose the route that at least diminished the impact of the loss while taking away from Federer his rightful due and maybe impacting his performance in the finals against Nadal. By doing so, he at least felt he was able to get back at Federer for insulting his parents and for demolishing his best effort. He probably would have done what he did, even if he was told in advance that he will be fined heavily if he withdrew. Nothing could have outweighed the anger and frustration he felt at that moment.

-Illness: It’s hard to imagine that there was absolutely nothing happening to Djokovic physically. It surely may not have been as drastic to merit a pull out with just couple games remaining, but might have been sharp enough to disallow his absolute ‘A’ game against the ‘in the zone’ Federer. If he made reference to seeing the doctor few days ago without actually doing it, he needs to take up acting seriously.

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Interesting Federer interview. From Sarah. Good job. Thanks.

Posted by tennisplanet on April 28, 2008

Sarah

INSIDE TENNIS: Twenty-five or 30 years from now, when players gather around, what do you want them to say about what Roger Federer brought to this sport?

ROGER FEDERER: I hope they still remember me, because sometimes players don’t recall history very well. What’s important to every player is that you’re remembered in a good way. I hope I’m going to finish my career in a good way. I’d like to be remembered for my charity work, my results, my sportsmanship.

IT: One of the most poignant moments in your career came when Rod Laver handed you the trophy in Melbourne in 2006. You were brought to tears. Was it because he was such a champion?

RF: Exactly. The history of the games means so much to me.

IT: But let’s face it — you came from a pretty normal, almost ordinary background in Switzerland. But then you went on to become quite the celeb — an international figure. I’d bet there are few places you can go without being recognized.

RF: Sure.

IT: Do you ever reflect on your incredible celebrity? Has it surprised you?

RF: It all came in it’s own good speed. First I was famous regionally, then nationally and then internationally. It came in a good way. I became sort of, an icon, maybe — especially after my first Wimbledon [in ‘03]. Everybody was really moved about that victory and the emotions I showed and having a Swiss as a Wimbledon champion right after [Martina] Hingis. They really enjoyed that, and it took off from there. People appreciated all the effort I put in and that I was trying to be a good ambassador for Switzerland because it’s important for the Swiss that we’re portrayed in a good way, because Switzerland is one of the most beautiful countries in the world. I enjoy it there. At times, they could have showed me a little bit more appreciation because we have a tendency not to open up too quickly. It took me a lot of Grand Slams and a lot of titles for that to happen. But I won them over, which is the nice thing. It’s a hard thing.

IT: Everybody sees the glitz of celebrity. But is there a downside, a burden to celebrity?

RF: It’s good we don’t have paparazzi in Switzerland. We don’t have people chasing you around and stuff. That’s a good thing. This is one of the reasons why I want to live there when I’m older.

IT: So what are the qualities of your Swiss heritage that help you as a player?

RF: I don’t even know what [my heritage] is. Is it Swiss or South African? What is it? Is it hard work? I’ve always been a leader. If it was in school or sports — whatever. I always wanted to be the best, and I loved leading a team. So I don’t know if it’s got much to do with where I come from. I had a great upbringing. My parents were fantastic, and Switzerland gave me all the possibilities. The federation was really nice and paid for a lot of things. I had the best coaches, and I was really fortunate. They never stopped believing I could become not only a great player, but become the best. That was the difference.

For me, [being] No. 100 in the world wasn’t enough. I always wanted to be the best, in the juniors and at the senior level. It was a great feeling, and I’m very proud of my achievements.

IT: Your longtime love and companion Mirka said that she couldn’t imagine anyone waking up in the morning and being more content than you. Do you have a kind of deep contentment within you?

RF: Very much so because I’m happy the way I do my things. I try to be nice to people. This is my nature. But I’ve always been a motivated, very positive person. Hardly ever do you see me in a negative way. This is what impresses Mirka so much.

IT: But you’ve had your tough moments. In your formative years, the Aussie Peter Carter was so important to you. The man was so much more than a coach to you. And then on a summer day in Canada, you got word about his sudden death in an auto accident. Soon you found yourself walking alone with your sorrow and loss in Toronto. That solitary night, a young athlete walking the streets alone with your loss was a moment of…

RF: It was difficult because of the disbelief. Until then, I didn’t have to deal much with anybody passing away who’d been close to me. It really touched me strongly because of everything Peter did for me and what he gave me as a player. At a young age, when a coach helps you, he’s more than just a coach. He’s a mentor. He’s your friend. He’s your father figure when your parents are not around. This is why it was so important to me. I wouldn’t say it woke me up, but it definitely made me work again extra hard because it just shows you how quickly it can be over.

IT: It had meaning?

RF: It did have an affect on my game, yeah.

IT: You’ve spoken about the importance of your big breakthrough on court in Hamburg in ‘02. Before that you said you were stuck outside of the top ten and you wondered what you had to do to get into the top ten. You were a struggling player within the pack — a player with great potential, but one who still remained a wannabe. Then you won and felt you were in contention to be No.1.

RF: I wasn’t playing too well. I lost in the first round in Rome the week before against [Andrea] Gaudenzi 4 and 4. I just had changed rackets, changed strings — the whole thing — to actually what I’m playing today. So six years ago almost? Before that I played with Pete’s [Wilson ProStaff] racket. I was in a transition period before that and a little bit frustrated on clay. I lost a lot of close matches, like, 7-5 in the third to [Andrei] Medvedev. Close. I was on a losing streak — my first 11 or 12 matches on clay. I knew I could play well on clay, but for some reason I started off with a terrible streak. I didn’t have the experience. I had just come through the juniors. But for me to then all of a sudden win Hamburg was a shock. And there was the way I did it, beating Guga and Safin. I beat quality players. It was just phenomenal.

IT: Even before you won your first major, this was the real beginning of your historic run [53 titles, 12 majors, more than four years at No. 1]. It’s been so astounding, so historic. What qualities within you do you think you’ve most brought to the fore? It’s been said you’re so organized, so calm, yet so determined. What’s been your rock, your foundation…

RF: What’s the whole thing based on? Good form. That’s based on the talent, the looseness of my shots and the ability to pace myself, to understand the situation. That’s all under [the category of] talent, but I had to work very, very strongly to develop that and make it a pure weapon. Before it was there, but it was loose. It could be a loose cannon. I always tried to pick the most difficult shot. I had to start to understand [the game and my shots] and at times play it a little bit more easy and be a little bit more patient. The biggest improvement I’ve ever made was my mental ability, because it used to work against me. Years later, I’m famous for it. So it’s incredible how you can change.

IT: What then is the role of intelligence, the role of the mind in tennis? Is it at the very forefront, or is it just part of a package?

RF: It’s part of a package. It comes down to technique, mental ability and physical ability. These are three pillars you need today to succeed.

IT: If you could accomplish one more thing in your career — win the Davis Cup, take home the Olympic gold, hold that elusive Roland Garros trophy high in Paris or break Pete’s all-time record of 14 Slams — what would it be?

RF: I don’t know. I guess as a selfish individual player I’d have to pick the French Open. I would almost have beaten Pete’s record. I’d be just one short but would have won all four majors. The thing I’m really gunning for is to have all of them by the time I retire. Winning the French is very, very high in my rankings, because I’ve already achieved so much. I think how nice it would be to win the Olympic Games, the Davis Cup, because I love the team and our coach. It would be such a great feeling as a team to go so far, and try to chase all of them down. Hopefully, I can achieve all them.

IT: What’s the one tipping point, the one thing that would get you through at Roland Garros?

RF: I’m confident for the next few years I’ll have a fair amount of chances to do well at the French. It’s a pity I couldn’t win it yet, because I came so close a few times. But Rafa has just been supreme on clay. He has never lost at the French. He’s on 21-match winning streak, which is just outrageous. So I will give myself the best possible chance. I know I’ll do it one day, so it’s a question of if it’s this year or next.

IT: You’ve done a great job over the years neutralizing the strongest, most imposing strokes, like Roddick’s serve or Agassi’s groundies. But is Rafa’s forehand, particularly on clay, the toughest stroke you’ve had to deal with?

RF: Look, I’m not sure if it’s just his forehand. Let’s say it’s more his movement than anything else. His forehand and backhand [it] seems are never going to break down really, especially on clay. I can’t see people talking about his backhand being a weakness. It’s amazing what kind of pace he can get off the backhand and how good his slice has become. People underestimate his game entirely. No, look, it’s good. [All] these guys have good stuff. We’ve seen Agassi’s groundies, and there’s always somebody new that comes up with something that challenges your game. [But with] Rafa, it’s his intense movement.

IT: A lot of No. 1 players distance themselves from getting involved in tennis policies and politics. Not you. You’ve spoken out and have pretty much been a traditionalist when it comes to the use of Hawk-Eye, a bunch of Wimbledon issues, the downscaling of the long-established Monte Carlo tournament or having tournaments experiment with the round-robin format. Why have you chosen to speak out?

RF: You have to remember that tennis has incredible roots. We haven’t been around just for five years so you can change everything and everybody’s open to changes. I grew up a certain way with tennis being in a certain way. I don’t want it to change, because I think it’s a great sport. The problem we have is that we should have more sponsors, bring more money in and get back on normal TV. That’s been the biggest problem for us. We had some bad deals with the ISL deal that went bankrupt [when tennis supposedly was going to land huge international marketing deals that never materialized.] That really hurt us a lot in terms of being on a normal TV network. They sold the broadcasting rights to private networks. That just killed the market for us in terms of sponsorship, and being on TV for the regular fan. The stadiums now are sold out, people are loving this sport. It’s a great live sport to attend. It’s a pity. But we’re on the way back, because we have a great package to sell. This is what we need to focus on and not little changes like that stupid round robin.

IT: It’s a real challenge for even the most appealing European athletes to become big stars in America. Do you think you’ve achieved that, or do you still have a ways to go?

RF: I think I’ve achieved that. I can’t win more than I have in the States. But you definitely need good Americans for the American people to understand this game. We’ve always had it for the last 25 years, and then when somebody’s not No. 1 in the world and people start to ask, “Where are they?” So they become pessimistic. It was so important that the Americans won the Davis Cup. They lifted the trophy. That’s a very important trophy, and the way they did it at home in Portland was huge for tennis. That was a big thing, but otherwise, tennis is fine the way it is. And if you really want to break [into the American market] you’ve got to come live. It’s also possible to do it the way I did: With a lot of success.

IT: One of the really unique things you have in your career is your relationship with Mirka. You’re so close. She, I imagine, provides so much companionship and even helps you some with your management and does some scouting.

RF: She’s been a great support, her always being there for me and being at every tournament. It’s just been good. You know, [you’re out on the circuit] having good times and bad and there’s always somebody reminding you what’s good and bad.

She’s known me since I had zero titles, and now I have 53. She hasn’t just been there since I had 20 or something. She came along with me right at the start. This is where she’s been so helpful. To clarify, people think she’s a manager or something. She’s not. She just handles a little bit of the press, but I’ve been trying to take that away a bit, because it does stress her out. I have a manager now with Tony Godsick and IMG. They handle that. She does organize flights and hotels, but…

IT: But still…

RF: She’s important. She oversees [a lot] and it’s always great to get her advice. She’s definitely one of the important persons in terms of my management, in terms of organizing everything. That’s where she really comes into play.

IT: To tell it like it is, for a long, long period, when players knew they were going to face you they seemed to come to the court with a bit of a pack-it-in mentality. You’ve had an incredible dominance over virtually all the players. Now there’ve more than a few hiccups. Do you think there’s been any change in the attitudes of players when they go out there against you?

RF: At one stage I had a record of winning 24 straight matches against top-10 players. I had an unbelievable streak at one stage. I won 19 finals in a row. I had a stretch from ‘04, ‘05, ‘06, where I hardly lost against any of my closest rivals. This, obviously, has changed. You can’t keep that up. That’s why people talk about it more often. Although maybe not in an unbelievable way, but it’s obvious that the young players, especially in the beginning of their careers, are going to have less respect for the older players. I was the same way. You have a lot of respect, but you think you can beat everyone. Then you beat someone your age like [I beat] Hewitt, Safin and Roddick and get their number and then they start not to believe as much anymore. Whereas the young guys, they always think they can rip out trees. So it’s a different feeling.

IT: Did you feel that way against Pete, when you were young? Did you think you, too, could rip out trees?

RF: I thought I had a chance to, but I didn’t think I was going to beat him. But I knew if things fell into place I’d have a chance. You always believe that you can beat anybody. This is the interesting part of tennis. You always have these players coming up.

IT: Do you think that by doing so well you sort of put yourself in a bind, that you built yourself up so much that you set the bar so high that…

RF: Sure. When you lose to one of your closest rivals, people are always going to start talking. It’s normal. I understand.

IT: Speaking of other players, let me go through some strokes and off the top of your head, tell me the player who has the best stuff out there. Let’s start with the forehand.

RF: I’d have to go with Rafa [Nadal], Fernando Gonzalez or James Blake. Those are the guys with bigger forehands.

IT: First serve?

RF: You’ve got to go with Andy [Roddick] or [Ivo] Karlovic.

IT: Backhand?

RF:[David] Nalbandian.

IT: Volley?

RF: They’re not so many around anymore, unfortunately.

IT: Unfortunately, really?

RF: Fortunately.

IT: You saw a few pretty good volleys the other night from Pete in Madison Square Garden.

RF: Yeah. He would be No. 1 if he were still playing.

IT: A little while ago, serve and volleyers like Pete, Stefan Edberg or Pat Rafter had great success. But in this era of great groundies and returns, is it possible, at the very top of the game, to be an out-and-out serve and volleyer?

RF: It’s possible, for sure. The conditions have become very slow with the balls, the courts and everything slowing down. But if you volley very well, like Edberg or Pete, Rafter or Becker, you could put incredible pressure on today’s baseline players, you could take their time away. But it would be hard, because we return and pass much better because conditions are slower and because everybody’s practicing that way. But I would be interested if I started serve and volleying to see where it would take me. It would be interesting.

IT: What about quickness? Not too long ago everyone was marveling at Lleyton Hewitt’s quickness, but now it’s all about Rafa.

RF: The way he protects the ground, I’d pick Rafa.

IT: And mental toughness? There’re a lot of tough players.

RF: It would have to be Rafa or Lleyton, as well as Djokovic, who is also very strong.

IT: And what if the No. 1 player in the world, Roger Federer, were not a pro athlete, what would he be up to?

RF: I would have changed a lot of things. My mind-set would have been totally different. I would see myself in business, because I’m very aware of what’s going on in my business and very into it. I enjoy it, working very closely with Tony [Godsick]. I see myself later being in business, absolutely.

IT: You play so incredibly under pressure. The San Francisco Chronicle’s Bruce Jenkins claimed that at crunch-time you almost seem to go into a dream-like state and have this unreal sense of anticipation.

RF: You do feel very in-the-moment. You feel that everything you want to do works, that everything you read sort of works. It’s like you’re always a step ahead. Luckily, I get those sensations quite often.

IT: I’d imagine that’s one of the best parts of the game.

RF: Yeah, with anticipation, you can do so much. So many players have that quality. It’s just a matter of how often can you actually make it happen.

IT: What about the big points? You play them so well. What’s the key – focus, intensity, relaxation?

RF: A little bit of everything — momentum, experience, knowing how to play the moments well, having a good enough game to be able to play the best shots at the right time and believing in yourself. Everything comes together on the big points.

IT: If you could go out to dinner with anyone outside of sports – in politics, fashion or humanitarian work – who would you choose?

RF: I’d love to meet Nelson Mandela. And Michael Jordan. It would be very, very interesting.

IT: How about some word associations. When I refer to that singular space you love so much — Wimbledon — what comes to mind?

RF: My dreams came true there. That’s really what happened there.

IT: Pete Sampras.

RF: One of the best two or three ever in the game.

IT: That guy who always seems to be lurking across the net from you — Rafa Nadal.

RF: My main rival.

IT: The tough-talking, tough-playing Novak Djokovic.

RF: Up-and-coming great player.

IT: A fellow we Americans know well – Michael Jordan.

RF: An icon in the game — in all of sports, really.

IT: That Swede who’s Wimbledon record you broke last summer — Bjørn Borg.

IT: King comes to mind, the king of the game, and somebody I admire very much.

IT: And that little company — Nike.

RF: One of my best friends in the world and one I would like to even work for. Such a nice brand.

IT: You like business. There’s a company based in your part of the world — Rolex.

RF: The best watch brand in the world. They have the most prestige. I’m lucky — I’m their partner.

IT: Tiger Woods?

RF: Phenomenal athlete and incredible guy.

IT: Andy Roddick?

RF: A guy who’s got the biggest serve in the game and is an unbelievable fighter.

IT: Finally, a guy who inspired you, Boris Becker.

RF: My idol growing up.

http://www.insidetennis.com/0508_federer_simons.html

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Why even have Federer in this freaking picture, you morons?

Posted by tennisplanet on April 28, 2008

Rafael Nadal of Spain, second left, Roger Federer of Switzerland, right, Elisabeth Anne De Massi President of the Country Club, second right,  stand with Monaco's Prince Albert II after Nadal won the final match of the Monte Carlo Open Tennis tournament in Monaco, Sunday, April 27, 2008. Nadal won 7-5, 7-5.  

Why not just make him sit on the ground?

I mean, you know the guy is hurting big time, not just now but for the last four months, and if that didn’t register in your knucklehead, it’s obvious from his long face.

Instead of making it comfortable for him (after all he reached the finals), by having the two players in the middle, you are pushing him almost out of the picture with his sorry tray and face.

Shouldn’t these morons be a little more sensitive? Granted Federer does not have a track record of being the world’s best loser, but you are adding salt to the wounds here. Federer, of course also has to take the blame for turning into a cactus after his losses. Is it that hard to smile and be part of the ceremony instead of standing out like a sore loser?

Nikolai Davydenko, from Russia, left, has a laugh with Roger Federer, from Switzerland, while holding the trophies after the final match of the Estoril Tennis Open, in Oeiras, outside Lisbon, Sunday, April 20, 2008. Federer won 7-6, 1-2, after Davydenko retired due to an injury.  

Did you notice at Estoril how happy Davydenko was even after having lost a match statistically he must be thinking he had all the chances to win? Granted he does not have as much at stake as Federer, but that doesn’t justify showing up with a wry face and ruining the whole ceremony and the photo shoot.

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Good and bad side of Djokovic. From Adam. Thanks.

Posted by tennisplanet on April 28, 2008

Serbia's Novak Djokovic waves the crowd after beating to U.S. player Sam Querrey, during their quarter finals match of the Monte Carlo Tennis Open tournament, in Monaco, Friday, April 25, 2008. Djokovic won 6-4, 6-0.  

Adam

Novak (Nole) Djokovic of Serbia is one of the most polarizing figures in tennis today. Currently ranked #3 in the world, he is clipping at the toes of tennis’ royalty and has been since last year. Whether he eventually catches Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer in the rankings and hearts of sports fans in unclear, but he certainly give his best effort to do so.

You may ask where this bravado comes from since he is not your typical arrogant, poor sportsmanship jerk the tennis world is accustomed to. He was not the spoiled child that had everyone fawn over him because he could serve over 140 miles per hour; nor was he suffering from a Napoleonic complex and lashing out at everyone. No, Novak Djokovic of Serbia is a hard working, slightly immature, party animal that just happens to be the 3rd best player in the world for the last two years.

Novak is often remembered for a few of his lesser antics than he would hope fans would recall. Among the most popular or controversial, were his impersonations of tennis’ elite. Whether it was the Sharapova hop or serve; Nadal’s shorts tug; Nalbandian’s enormous gut; Andy Roddick’s serve and antics or any of the other impersonations, he made his presence known. It should be noted that he did these at the end of his practice sessions in the French Open, Wimbledon and US Open at the request of fans in 2007. He no longer performs these acts, but then again he cannot go anonymously anywhere in the tennis world anymore.

In addition to his impersonations, Nole has also built a reputation for poor sportsmanship after losses and in some cases during matches. Many Nadal fans recall his French Open retirements and subsequent press conferences where he said he should have won and would have had it not been for an injury (this after he lost the opening two sets and was about to fall in the third). This would not be the only time he used the same retirement/excuses for among other things, fatigue and blisters (two of the most commonly afflicted symptoms of playing tennis). Roger Federer, while never to be slighted publicly by Nole, has witnessed his “fatigue” retirements as well. The most recent case of what is sometimes referred to as Nole’s “vaginitis” occurred April 26, 2008 in the semifinals of Monte Carlo.

Other noticeable immature acts include his comments and body language surrounding his early losses to Gilles Simon of France in Marseille and Kevin Anderson of South Africa in Miami. Gilles Simon completely outclassed Djokovic from the baseline in front of his countrymen. Djokovic was highly dismissive of the match saying anyone could have beat him that day and he was just too tired to play that event. The Miami debacle and loss to qualifier Kevin Anderson was of particular note to the Miami paparazzi as he was seen partying that night and eventually leaving with Maria Sharapova well into the night. He came out sluggish, disinterested and once again dismissive of his opponent.

After hearing such negative comments about the #3 player in the world, one might ask why should anyone care for or tolerate him. While there are certainly reasons to not like aspects of his personality, there are many positives with him as well. Djokovic is easily the most accessible of the top 5 players with not just the tennis media, but the entire international news media. He has a solid family to rely on, and coming from war torn Belgrade, that is certainly saying something. He truly loves the game and is one of if not the most emotional player on tour. He has refined his game and improved his ranking through determination, high tennis IQ and hard work (something sorely lacking among players outside of the big 3).

Nole at a mere 20 years of age grew up in a country torn apart through war. He did not have the luxury of practicing at the finest tennis academies in the world or use any of the resources that enabled all the other current top ten players to succeed. Growing up in Serbia meant daily, sometimes more, bombings of buildings, schools or resources. Having not been in a similar situation, it can be rather difficult to imagine the situation. What is ever more remarkable is that not one, but 4 Serbian players made it out of that environment to become top 50 players. Joined by Janko Tipsarevic, Jelena Jankovic and Ana Ivanovna, Djokovic all grew up in a country without ANY tennis academy and trained often in empty pools. Living through the daily bombings and childhood they experienced is it any wonder they tend to have a chip on their shoulders?

Serbia was devoid of proper training facilities and after the initial junior success of Tipsarevic and his predecessor and doubles specialist Nenad Zimonjic, the exodus began for Nole, Jankovic and Ivanovna (the Serbian Triumvirate). They spread the globe in search of better opportunities; they had to fight for anything and everything. Following the template of success from other Eastern Europeans, the Serbian Triumvirate fought, adapted and challenged the best in the game. Nole became the first to make a big splash on the highest stage by winning the 2008 Australian Open, but all 3 are celebrated as National heroes and followed closely. It is not difficult for a nation that has gone through so much to galvanize around their heroics and aspire to reach similar successes in life.

Junior tennis, particularly for foreign kids in a foreign country can be a very difficult transition. This is where the loving and proud Djokovic family enabled Novak to overcome so many obstacles. Novak was not blessed with an overpowering serve, forehand, backhand, strength or net game. What he did have was the love of his family, a great work ethic and a competitive fire.

His situation closely resembles the Williams Sisters structure and support system. Novak’s entire family can be seen supporting him and are often louder than his most vocal fans (particularly his mother). A mother’s love is said to know no boundaries and while some may argue it is poor tennis etiquette, unless he is penalized or warned she otherwise it is tolerated by the officials. Novak is often quick to acknowledge and praise his support from his family and fans. Yet again the parallels between the love and hate relationship with Williams’ is eerie.

At 20 years old, Novak Djokovic has already accomplished feats that other veterans would kill for. He has made the semis or better in all four grand slams; won the Australian Open; was a finalist at the US Open; won Tennis Masters Series titles in Indian Wells, Miami and Canada; in all he has won 9 titles and counting. He is only a Tennis Masters Series title and #1 ranking away from surpassing Andy Roddick’s career accomplishments and he will likely do that at a younger age than when Roddick’s success even began.

Analyzing Novak’s game reveals just how solid one can become throught heart and determination. He has a great return of serve, terrific forehand and backhand, and more than anything he knows when to utilize his strokes. His serve is not the most overpowering, but it is extremely effective. Nole will utilize drop shots, occasionally come to the net to finish off volleys and basically try to make life difficult for his opponents. With no apparent weakness in his game, it is easy from a tennis perspective to enjoy not just his skill, but also his heart. He is constantly pounding his chest after winning a long rally or important point. This emotion can be seen in the tennis world, but when compared to Roger Federer it is even more astounding. Many are hesitant to show such emotion when facing Roger for fear of showing him up, Novak has no such reservations.

In terms of sports idols, Novak held Pete Sampras in the highest esteem. Roger Federer is not far behind Sampras in Nole’s eyes. Novak is obviously more aware of his image and has put forth an effort to be as open and cordial as possible with the media and fans. I recall waiting to interview Richard Gasquet in Indian Wells with a few other media members and Novak tried desperately to get our attention and he hinted about a possible hookup with Maria Sharapova later that evening as she too was talking with reporters. Novak loves attention of any kind and as a tennis fan in the US, any type of exposure for tennis is a good thing since The Tennis Channel and ESPN have limited their coverage. Without the support of these two key mediums, Novak uses the press to his advantage, whether it is the occassional slight of an opponent in a loss (just like Pete Sampras did after all of his losses); or the praising of his family, fans and opponents after a win.

Djokovic is very comfortable in his own skin and while he is certainly not as modest or shy as Rafael Nadal or stoic as Roger Federer, he deserves his place when mentioning the best in the game today amongst fans. His outgoing personality is that of many 20 year olds with so much to live for, namely to enjoy life and do things your way. In terms of exposure in the US market, Novak Djokovic is even more important than his peers. Rafael Nadal, hampered by his English and more timid off court personality is reluctant to embrace the US media or to take time off his focus on improving his game. Roger Federer has essentially given up on building his brand in the US and is more focused on spreading his international appeal and brand strength in Asia.

The US media is still reluctant to offer the advertising dollars that are currently given to James Blake, Andy Roddick and of all people, Robby Ginepri. Novak’s management team is making headway in this arena though. Djokovic has appeared on late night talk shows, participated in fashion shows, and attended the hottest nightclubs and parties, as well taken up any promotional opportunities presented to him. These opportunities were once given to the likes of Andre Agassi and Andy Roddick and we all know how they could not maintain the focus necessary to compete for the number one ranking during their time in the spotlight. Novak not only embraces the limelight, he excels in it.

Whether or not he can carry the promotion of the sport and his production on the court to the number one ranking remains to be seen. He has battled fans, feigned injuries, survived a very challenging childhood and risen above it all. You do not have to like Novak Djokovic, but after reading this, I hope you have a greater appreciation for him and his contribution to the sport of tennis.

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Ana has viral infection from kissing Djokovic? From truthfinder. Thanks.

Posted by tennisplanet on April 28, 2008

Serbia's Ana Ivanovic serves to Nika Ozegovic of Croatia during their Fed Cup World Group 2 match in Zagreb, Croatia, Sunday, April 27, 2008.  

truthfinder

Note: Ana had viral infection and had to miss one day. Hmmmm maybe she was kissing Nole?

Fed Cup: Serbia beats Croatia 3-2 in Fed Cup playoffs
AP
2008-04-27
ZAGREB, Croatia (AP) – Ana Ivanovic beat Nika Ozegovic 7-5, 6-1 Sunday in the decisive reverse singles to give Serbia a 3-2 win over Croatia in the Fed Cup playoffs.
Serbia will play in World Group II, while Croatia goes back to regional play.
«I did not feel 100 percent in the first set, and made more
mistakes than usual,» Ivanovic said. «Serbia has entered World Group II for the first time, and that is great as we have the potential to win the Fed Cup one day.
The second-ranked Ivanovic, who missed the opening singles Saturday because of a viral infection, struggled in the first set against Ozegovic but then dominated in the second with powerful serves and crosscourt forehands.
«Until now, I did not know how it feels to play top-ranked players,» the 150th-ranked Ozegovic said. «Now I know. It’s a great lesson for me.
In the meaningless second reverse singles, Croatia’s Ana Vrljic beat Teodora Mircic 6-4, 7-5.
Serbian doubles pair Ana Jovanovic and Mircic retired due to Jovanovic’s injury with Vrljic and Jelena Kostanic-Tosic leading 4-1 in the first set.

On Saturday, Jelena Jankovic cruised to a 6-1, 6-2 victory over Ozegovic, while Jovanovic beat Kostanic-Tosic 6-4, 7-5.
«This is a historic victory for Serbia,» the fifth-ranked Jankovic said. «Now, we’ll take it step by step to hopefully reach the Fed Cup finals by 2010.
The two former Yugoslav nations fought a bitter ethnic war in the early 1990s.

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Querrey had to cancel his return ticket from Monte Carlo twice.

Posted by tennisplanet on April 28, 2008

He had booked it right after his first round match against Moya, and then had to change again after Seppi’s match in the next round.

Is that going to be Federer’s next big move against Nadal now?

I have tried that with somewhat different result though!!!!!!!!!!!!! Maybe it’s my ‘at the very end economy next to the restroom’ class that might be the difference maker.

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Five antioxidant superstar veggies. Can you name even one? No, you can’t.

Posted by tennisplanet on April 28, 2008

Do you take even one of them in a month? Not likely.

Click here

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Press conference questions should be asked by fans via e-mail. At least some good percentage of them.

Posted by tennisplanet on April 28, 2008

And if they are clean and not drastically out of line, the moderator should read the question in a matter of fact way for players to respond. That would make the PC fun and exciting, for players will be forced to use humor, break down, sweat whatever, to get out of those straight shooting barbs, don’t you think? Wouldn’t that be better than these gutless clowns with no backbone?

There’s no law that says you cannot be put on a spot or you won’t be asked tough reasonable ‘on everyone’s mind’ questions. It comes with the territory. Presidential candidates are asked tough, sometimes embarrassing questions on nationally televised broadcasts. You think that’s what makes people watch the debates? You bet!!!!!!! It’s a big part of it

 Federer:

-What is it that makes you fail just when you are right about to beat Nadal specially on clay courts. It’s now happened so many times for it to be just incidental? And we don’t want to hear Nadal is so good? That doesn’t fly after seven near misses.

-What is that swelling on your face? Is it related to mono?

-Don’t you think eight years is to long a period to decide if she’s the one?

-Was it OK for you to reprimand Djokovic’s parents publicly? How would you feel if Djokovic did that to yours next time?

-What is the reason for you not hiring Jose on a full time basis now that you have won nine straight matches on clay? What else do you want him to achieve for you to sign on the dotted line?

Nadal:

-What is the point of the outburst regarding the ATP clay schedule for 2009? Wouldn’t it better to go through the players’ representative and have a better chance of reversing that decision than by publicly chastising ATP this way?

-Why are you playing at Barcelona after last year’s bagel eating match at Hamburg?

Djokovic:

-What would you like to say to justify your retirement to fans who feel it was a cop out?

-Have you talked to your parents to tone it down a little, oops, a lot in the players’ box?

-Why do you hate Federer?

-After how many retirements did you think we will catch on? Or do you think there are still some fans who are yet to get it?

I am fried. You got more?

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