Tag Archives: Novak Djokovic

WIMBLEDON: Novak Djokovic beats Rafael Nadal to Become King. Will Casual Fan Accept end of Nadal-Federer?



Novak Djokovic wins Wimbledon

Novak Djokovic dropped to Wimbledon’s Centre Court in celebration and then. . .ate some blades of grass. “Well-kept,’’ he said. A few months ago, when he won the Australian Open, he started taking off clothes, throwing them into the crowd, then taking off more. Knowing him, he wasn’t sure to stop before it got embarrassing. But he did.

The thing is, Djokovic isn’t just for comic relief anymore. He is the king of tennis after beating Rafael Nadal 6-4, 6-1, 1-6, 6-3 Sunday to win Wimbledon.

Djokovic has been crushing everyone, including Nadal and Roger Federer, all year. But you don’t prove that you’re best in Rome or Madrid, Indian Wells or Miami. It happens at Wimbledon (or the U.S. Open). He is now 48-1 this year, winning two of three majors and beating Nadal five times with no losses.

He officially earned the computer No. 1 ranking on Friday, but proved Sunday that he deserved it.

“Couple good days at the office, yeah,’’ he said, not just holding the trophy, but sort of hugging it. “Really, honestly, the big day of my life.’’

What kind of a day is it for tennis? It is a changing-moment. The game had been led by the greatest individual rivalry in sports: Federer and Nadal. That’s what the casual sports fan wanted to see. Tennis has been living on it since Nadal’s classic Wimbledon win over Federer in 2008.

The tennis world already accepts Djokovic and knows he has ruled the game this year. But without Nadal-Federer at the top, will tennis still sell to anyone outside the club? Continue reading

WIMBLEDON: Best 2 Players, Best Court, Best Moment. Who’s Real No. 1? Novak Djokovic or Rafael Nadal?

Novak Djokovic reaches his first Wimbledon final, moves to No. 1

Rafael Nadal vs. Novak Djokovic. The best two players on the best court in the best moment. For tennis, The New Rivalry gets its big day Sunday in the Wimbledon final. Sure, Nadal already beat Djokovic in the U.S. Open final in September, and that will count when people tally up this rivalry years later. But Djokovic wasn’t at Nadal’s level yet. He still might not be, to be honest, but here’s his chance.

This moment could be to Djokovic what Nadal’s classic win over Federer in the 2008 Wimbledon final meant to him. On the other hand, if Nadal wins, he will be the champ of five of the past six majors, and on one of the most dominant runs in tennis history.

Amazing how one match can change things so much. How perfect that it will happen at Centre Court, Wimbledon. It is the ideal way to build interest in the game, too, among Average Joe sports fans who aren’t into tennis otherwise.

Both players won their semifinal matches Friday. Djokovic beat Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 7-6 (7-4), 6-2, 6-7 (11-9), 6-3, and Nadal beat Andy Murray 5-7, 6-2, 6-2, 6-4.

Whoever wins Sunday is the best player in the world, even though Djokovic will move to No. 1 no matter what. That’s right, even if No. 1 Nadal beats No. 2 Djokovic, the next day the rankings will read 1 Djokovic, 2 Nadal.

Dumb. Continue reading

WIMBLEDON: When Superstars Play Like Kids in a Park. Remembering Novak Djokovic, Robin Soderling, Others

Novak Djokovic and Maria Sharapova on the Wimbledon practice courts

It’s the middle Sunday at Wimbledon, and everyone takes the day off. I decided to follow their example. But if you want to know that the place is like, here’s what I wrote from the practice courts on the middle Sunday last year, where the world’s best players either worked hard or messed around. It was like a tennis playground for superstars. This column ran in AOL FanHouse on June 27, 2010:

WIMBLEDON, England — Just two guys out playing tennis at the All England Club Sunday. Sure, their names happened to be Novak Djokovic and Robin Soderling, and it’s very possible that seven days from now, those two won’t be on practice court No. 1, but instead a few hundred yards away, on Centre Court, playing in the Wimbledon final in the most important tennis match of the year.

But not today.

“I’m so nervous,” Djokovic said, teasing Soderling, who was about to serve. “It’s unbelievable.”

Soderling served, and then ran Djokovic around the court, back and forth, until Soderling finally crushed a forehand winner. When the ball got past Djokovic, who was on a full-out run, he wound up and threw his racquet all the way across the open court next to them.

“I mean, come on,” he said. “Really.”

The second Monday at Wimbledon, tomorrow, is the most exciting day of the year for tennis, with only the U.S. Open’s Super Saturday as competition. But on Monday, all of the final 16 men and 16 women will be playing. So the order of play includes Sharapova vs. Serena Williams, Henin vs. Clijsters, and also Federer, Nadal, Murray, Roddick.

So much tension, so much at stake.

On Sunday, it was the same characters, different setting. Continue reading

WIMBLEDON WEEK: Quick Last-Second Hits. Can Rafael Nadal, Serena Williams Both Repeat?

Serena Williams in last year's Wimbledon final

A bunch of quick-hit thoughts on certain players going into Wimbledon:

Serena Williams: This might not even be that hard. Better beat her early, before she gets momentum. Only concern: When she has trouble catching her breath, will she be able to keep her mind off the blood clots? Prediction: Winner.

Rafael Nadal: This “clay court specialist’’ hasn’t lost a match at Wimbledon since 2007. Won’t this year, either.

Andy Roddick: Conflicting thoughts. Done winning majors; that’s an awfully nice draw. Last chance? (I’ve probably said that about him before).

Venus Williams: Didn’t look that great at Eastbourne. Kind of off-balance. Still good enough to make a deep run, though.

Roger Federer: The big-bashers who were pushing him backward aren’t doing well. He might have figured out Novak Djokovic. If Nadal loses before the final, this tournament could be his. If not, it’s not.

Caroline Wozniacki: Prove it already. Quarterfinals against Sharapova, good place to start. Prediction: Sharapova.

John Isner-Nicolas Mahut: Straight sets for Isner. But stop picking him as a darkhorse. If you can’t return serve, you can’t win Wimbledon.

Andy Murray: Tabloid fodder. Continue reading

WIMBLEDON WEEK: Caroline Wozniacki Crashes Novak Djokovic’ Press Conference, asks about 1-Match Slump


Djokovic, Wozniacki


Novak Djokovic has lost one match all year. One. True, it was his most recent one, to Roger Federer at the French Open. So leave it to the typical, negative media to come to his pre-Wimbledon press conference asking about his one-match losing streak.

“Novak, I’m sorry if you’ve been asked this question before, since I’m a bit late,’’ the reporter said.

“Where are you from?’’ he asked.

“I am from the Monaco newspaper on Avenue Princess Grace.’’

“Oh, OK,’’ Djokovic said. “I’ll be glad to answer.’’

“You know, you had this little losing streak of one, so what are you going to do to change that.’’

The reporter was Caroline Wozniacki, who popped in during Djokovic’ press conference Saturday and started asking questions. She and Djokovic are neighbors in Monaco. Djokovic likes to joke around pretty much everywhere. Wozniacki made up some strange story in her Australian Open press conferences about being attacked by a kangaroo, then showed up at a later press conference with boxing gloves and a balloon-kangaroo.

No one said they were the best comedians. But as far as comedians go, they are the best tennis players in the world. And for your typical tennis player, they are laugh riots. Here’s how the interview went after Wozniacki’s question about Djokovic’ losing streak.

“Well, you know what?  I will try to look up to some women players who have been so consistent with their wins, for example like Caroline Wozniacki,’’ Djokovic said. “I don’t know if you’ve heard about her.  She’s been winning so much.  She’s become a role model for all of us ATP players.  So I’m going to try to look (at) some of her matches and try to break this losing streak of one, you know, try to get on the right path.’’

Wozniacki: “So who is your favorite women’s tennis player?  Is that her, as well?’’

Djokovic: “Well, we’ll have to keep that a secret.’’

Wozniacki: “Oh, c’mon.’’

Djokovic: “I think I already discovered one of my favorite women’s players.  I just said her name.  She’s actually my neighbor, as well.’’

Wozniacki: “Really?

Djokovic: “She actually lives in the street where you come from.’’

Wozniacki: “Oh, really?

Djokovic: “Yes. From time to time we have coffee there on the beach and just relax and have lunch, have a jog.

Wozniacki: “I’m sure she must be a really, really nice girl.’’

Djokovic: “She is a really, really nice girl.  She’s a great entertainer; No. 1.  You never heard about her?’’

Wozniacki: “The No. 1 actually drinks coffee on the beach with someone who actually almost never lose a match?’’

Djokovic: “Yes. That’s a winning ‑‑  excuse me. . .’’

Wozniacki: “I cannot even talk anymore.  They’re pulling me.’’

Djokovic: “Yeah, I know.  Monaco press is very popular nowadays.

Wozniacki: “Monaco press is unbelievable.’’

Djokovic: “You see.  This is what I’m talking about.’’



Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic Drop out of Pre-Wimbledon Events. As Usual, Promises Broken for Tennis Fans

Gerry Weber Open ticket promo

Let’s do some math. Third-tier tickets (second-cheapest) to Friday’s quarterfinals at the Gerry Weber Open in Halle, Germany: 40 euros apiece, or $58 in U.S. money. Take your spouse and two kids, four tickets: $232. Parking, incidentals, meals, snacks, transportation, souvenirs? Let’s say the whole day together, if you’re lucky: $400.

But what the heck, it’s a fun day and Roger Federer is going to play. All the ads have said so for weeks. That’s something special to see.

On Monday, though, Federer withdrew from the tournament, citing a tender groin and fatigue. Really? A tender groin?

Tennis fans are screwed again. Let’s call it what it is: Federer, who signed a contract to play in Halle, and knew tickets were being sold based on his name, just didn’t feel like playing. He had overscheduled this spring and been talking about his exhaustion during the French Open. Then, he went all the way to the finals before losing to Rafael Nadal, wearing out in the fourth set.

OK, fine. He was tired. He has to do what’s best for his chances at Wimbledon, and he doesn’t think that means playing this week’s tournament. But what about the poor guy who made a decision with his discretionary funds in a bad economy? Four-hundred bucks to see Roger Federer.

Tender groin?

Look, we have jumped all over Serena Williams for faking injuries in the past to avoid playing in non-majors after tickets have been sold to see her. She also has shown up at non-majors, such as Cincinnati in 2009, and not even tried in front of fans who had paid.

Well, how is that different from Federer pulling out of Halle? How is it different from Novak Djokovic pulling out of Queen’s Club this week because he’s tired? Tired? Did you know you might be tired when you entered the tournament? When officials started selling tickets?
The tour requires you to go to some tournaments, such as Cincy, and others you choose to go to, such as Halle and Queen’s Club. But either way, the fans buy tickets on a promise that’s not kept. Continue reading

FRENCH OPEN: Rafael Nadal, the Look of Tennis Dominance, Beats Roger Federer Again

Rafael Nadal. French Open champ...again


This is the look of dominance. Roger Federer is not the best anymore. Novak Djokovic is not the best today. Juan Martin del Potro might be the best later. They are all great, but keep your focus on the right place and the right time.

Rafael Nadal beat Federer Sunday 7-5, 7-6 (7-3), 5-7, 6-1 to win the French Open. His sixth French Open title, tying Bjorn Borg’s record. Nadal holds on to his No. 1 ranking, goes into Wimbledon as the defending champ and favorite.

And, oh yeah, he also validated himself. Huh?

Two weeks ago, Sports Illustrated proclaimed Djokovic “The Most Dominant Athlete in the World.’’ Four days ago, Nadal previewed the Federer-Djokovic semifinal by calling it the greatest player of all time vs. the greatest player of today. Nobody blinked. On Sunday, Nadal won his fourth major in the past 12 months. He has won four of the past five majors.

Best today? Yes.

Best ever? “No. For sure, no,’’ he said. “What Roger did is almost impossible to improve. He is best player in history in my opinion. I am 25; this victory is very important for this year in my career.’’

Nadal has won 10 majors now, to Federer’s 16. But he has beaten Federer in 17 of their 25 matchups.

To me, Nadal is the best ever, as things stand. His best is better than Federer’s. But Nadal’s story is nowhere near fully played out. Federer’s greatness lasted much, much longer than Nadal’s has. Nadal has owned Federer, but what if, say, del Potro owns Nadal over the next four years? Or what if Djokovic does? Continue reading

FRENCH OPEN No Djok: Roger Federer Refuses to Turn Page of History, beats Novak Djokovic


Roger Federer beats Novak Djokovic at the French Open

There are moments in a sport’s history when everything turns and you can see it right in front of you. It’s a long process, really, but things build up into a moment that’s as finite as a baton being passed in a track relay. Sure, a lot of work led up to that pass, but the moment defined it or solidified it or something.

That’s what Novak Djokovic was doing at the French Open, looking to take the baton from both Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, to become the best. Instead, the page of history refused to turn. Federer beat Djokovic 7-6 (7-5), 6-3, 3-6, 7-6 (7-5) Friday in the semifinals in one of those classic matches that leaves fans jittery throughout. Both players held their nerve, for the most part, and by the end, they were playing in the dark like kids who won’t go home until the score is settled.

It ended with Federer serving an ace, and then holding up his index finger, shaking it and smiling as if to say, “Don’t write me off just yet.’’ And what do we get in Sunday’s final? Federer-Nadal, of course. Enjoy it. History’s pages will turn soon.

“I haven’t disappeared. . .’’ Federer said. “I wasn’t lying on the beach.’’

The loss ended Djokovic’s 43-match win streak, 41 to start this year. Both marks fell just short of records. Djokovic described it as the best five months of his life: “It had to end sometime. Unfortunately, it came in a bad moment. This is sport. I will keep working hard.’’

He will be fine. This match meant much more to Federer. It was a special moment for him, on this side of his career arc. Some analysts are already asking if this is Federer’s biggest win outside of major finals. I’ll say this: It’s bigger than some of his championships, because it served to discover and to prove something. Continue reading

FRENCH OPEN: Roger Federer Will Beat Novak Djokovic. Here are 4 Reasons why

Roger Federer is going to beat Novak Djokovic Friday in the French Open semifinals.

The washed-up old guy is going to end the never-ending streak, beat the unbeatable player. He is going to ruin the coronation that everyone thought this tournament was all about, and remind people that he’s still here, still on the mountaintop.

This is Fab Friday at Roland Garros, as the world’s top four men’s players are meeting up. First, it’s Rafael Nadal against Andy Murray. Murray has been playing on a sore ankle, and Nadal finally found his mojo in the quarterfinals. I’ll take Nadal. 

But why Federer, when Djokovic has surpassed him and keeps looking stronger and stronger while Federer is starting to show age? Well, to me, everything is lining up perfectly for Federer. Every Federer flaw is negated, every strength enhanced. The predicted heavy winds, the new Babolat ball, the buildup, the slow clay. It all adds up on Federer’s side. Plus, Djokovic has to lose sometime. Plus, Federer has won the French before. Plus. . .

There is still the chance that Djokovic will simply power Federer off the court, push him backward. I just don’t think that’s going to happen. Here are four reasons why: Continue reading

FRENCH OPEN: Rafael Nadal Thrown Into the Pool, Beats Robin Soderling, Becomes Nadal Again

Rafael Nadal celebrates Wednesday at French Open

Welcome, Rafael Nadal. With just half a week left of the French Open, he finally arrived. Turns out, what he needed was a real threat today, not one looming a week or more away.

So Nadal had been moping, losing confidence, seemingly burned out for the first week and a half, trying to figure out what, if anything, he could do against Novak Djokovic in the final. And then on Wednesday in the quarterfinals, facing No. 5 Robin Soderling, the only man to ever beat him in the French Open, Nadal finally was Nadal again, winning 6-4, 6-1, 7-6 (7-3).

It set up a dream semifinal for the French, with all top four seeds alive: Nadal-Andy Murray and Djokovic-Roger Federer.

“I said two days ago I am not playing good enough to win Roland Garros; we will see in two days,’’ he said. “That’s what I said. Today I played better. Much better, in my opinion. . .You have these feelings, you feel the pressure and that helps me for the next match.’’

The pressure has been getting to Nadal, mostly from Djokovic, who is trying to take Nadal’s tournament and also his No. 1 ranking. Nadal also needs one more title to catch Bjorn Borg’s six French Opens. If that pressure wasn’t enough, he also has been trying to adapt to the French’s new Babolat tennis ball. It is harder and flies faster than other balls, and Nadal has had trouble controlling it with his heavy topspin.

So while Nadal has seemed like a basket case, Djokovic, relaxed, called John McEnroe for a fun practice Wednesday. It felt that everything was crashing in on Nadal. Continue reading