Friday, September 5, 2008

Leaving Lasting Impressions on the Court

Novak Djokovic wriggled around like a caterpillar on steroids. With apparent aggression and aggravation stemming from the far-from-tame Flushing Meadows fans that hold Andy Roddick close to their American Dream hearts, the Serbian unleashed tennis talent followed by regrettable words and a bewildered attitude after the intense match:

“Andy was saying I have 16 injuries in last match,” Djokovic told the Arthur Ashe crowd. “Obviously I don’t.” That elicited a round of boos that Djokovic acknowledged by saying: “Yeah, right. Like it or not, it’s like that.”

Referring to the crowd, he continued: “I know they’re already against me because they think I’m faking everything. That’s not nice, anyhow, to say I have 16 injuries and I’m faking it.”
These statements were in response to Roddick’s comments the night before:
“You know,” he said, “he’s either quick to call the trainer or he’s the most courageous guy of all time.”
Granted, Roddick added fuel to the already blazing fire – but what happened to winning with dignity? Better yet, a confident pride that peels off the underlying message of, “See, I told you so…now let’s move on to the next round.”

Djokovic obviously had his feelings hurt and, even during the match, let out the emotion with loud, low screams – from his mouth and from his racket. Djokovic held off the city favorite on his favorite court, in what appeared to be Roddick’s best overall effort in a while (Roddick has had nagging injuries himself but looked confident and performed impressively in this year’s U.S. Open).

16 injuries? Djokovic couldn’t let it go even though he himself is not always the most courteous. How many times has he mocked other players with his impersonations of them on the court? He is half-joking then, too, right?

Roddick understood what he proclaimed in the press conference. He is a competitor and a past champion in the Open. He doesn’t want to hear excuses – athletes who mention their injuries, even minor, are looking for an out, just in case they don’t perform well. Plus, in Djokovic’s case, he has previously been blamed for taking too much time between games in order to take care of his body – and possibly the opponent’s mind.

Congrats to Djokovic. He held off the Roddick run, the NY fans, and the supposed injuries. However, a typical tennis thank you to the fans was in order. Praise them anyway.

In the future, it will take more of an effort to change the impressionable minds of the spectators. Djokovic should think about the transformation of his image back to the butterfly that people thought we was when he came onto the tennis scene, as a composed, engaging challenger to the top seeds.


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