My column on AOL Fanhouse
This is about how to be a tennis champion and pick up babes, Novak Djokovic style. It involves nipple tassels. Be prepared: It also involves a little granny-on-Novak action.
A certain dignity is required of tennis champions. It must be. We’ve seen it forever.
Djokovic doesn’t have it, doesn’t behave like any tennis champ we’ve seen before. I’ll just say this …
We’ve had cranky champs (John McEnroe), and flashy ones (Andre Agassi). Usually, just well-behaved ones who are a little stiff.
When Djokovic won the Australian Open Sunday, I started replaying so many of his antics. A personal favorite: a video he did in 2009 to promote his new Head racket.
At Wimbledon, they think you should wear a coat and tie no matter where you are or what you’re doing. Djokovic wears nipple tassels.
Now, he’s on their level.
That’s not to knock Federer and Nadal. Both are incredibly classy.
I don’t see either of them doing a video like the one Djokovic did.
Or, doing the impressions he became known for a few years ago. The best one was of Maria Sharapova, pulling back her hair and bouncing the ball high and deliberately before her serve.
Djokovic has everyone’s mannerisms down. And that ticked off plenty of other players.
Of course, he also bugged players with all of his ailments, whether real or imagined. Andy Roddick jumped on him for that at a U.S. Open, saying he thought Djokovic had “a back and a hip and a cramp, bird flu, yeah, Anthrax, SARS, common cough and cold.”
Djokovic then beat Roddick and got defensive about the comments to the crowd, which booed him.
“Like it or not,” Djokovic said, “it’s like that. They’re already against me because they think I’m faking everything. That’s not nice anyhow (for Roddick) to say in front of this crowd that I’m faking and have 16 injuries.”
Amazingly, the class clown suddenly became known as a grump.
But in the 2009 U.S. Open, after one of his matches in the night session, Djokovic called McEnroe down from the announcers booth, imitated McEnroe and then played him a few points.
On Saturday, Djokovic had a press conference to preview his final against Andy Murray. When the conference moderator accidentally called him “Andy,” Djokovic stood up calmly and walked off, saying he can’t do this and pretending to be upset.
At a press conference in Cincinnati last year, he walked into the room, and only three or four of us were there. He went on and on about how nervous he was speaking in front of such a big crowd, and how honored he was to be there.
Last year, on the middle Sunday at Wimbledon, the off-day, he and Robin Soderling played a tiebreaker on a practice court. Soderling ran Djokovic off the court for one ball, and when Djokovic couldn’t quite get to it, he kept running, pulled back and threw his racquet across the two courts next to him.
In the end, Djokovic won, Soderling took money out of his wallet, crumpled it and threw it at Djokovic.
A few minutes later, Djokovic pulled the money out of his pocket, straightened it out, showed it to me, kissed it and said “My work is done here.”
At one point, Djokovic cut out the impressions, saying that they were bothering other players. If he still does them now, it’s rare. So here’s to hoping Djokovic doesn’t become, well, tennis-ized now that he’s on the game’s top level.
There are dozens of great stories about him. Only one, though, involves nipple tassels.
At least, as far as we know.
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