By In Tennis

Rooting for Novak

I came to Sunday’s Wimbledon final desperately hoping to see Roger Federer win his 18th grand slam. And, in the end, I found myself rooting for Novak Djokovic.

I’m still not sure how it happened, so I wrote about it.

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8 Responses to Rooting for Novak

  1. Fantastic column Joe! The two things I most love reading you write about are your daughters, and tennis. I’m a huge Federer guy myself but also felt really good for Djokovic Sunday; he truly earned it.

  2. Marco says:

    I’ve always thought Djokovic plays best when he’s desperate.

    You said he seems like a nice guy and I think it’s true. He really seems to be a guy who wants to just play around and be liked. As such, he doesn’t have the requisite killer instinct to step on his opponents throat when he’s got him down.

    By contrast though, when his back is against the wall and he throws caution to the wind he’s capable of some incredible things.

  3. Colin says:

    One problem Novak had is that when he came up he wasn’t very likable. His early career was marred by a deserved reputation for quitting big matches – he did so at slams, at the Monte Carlo tournament, even in a Davis Cup match. Federer called him out on it; Roddick did so also, leading to a rumble between the two that culminated in some awkward post-match comments that enraged a US Open crowd after Novak beat Roddick. He made a bad first impression, and those can be hard to overcome.

    Also, it wasn’t just that he wasn’t as loved as Federer or Nadal. Novak came on the scene during the peak of the Federer-Nadal rivalry. Fans anticipated those epic battles; as Connors famously said, “This is what they want”. So, any time Novak made a final it meant we weren’t getting the final we really wanted.

    Like you, Joe, I like Nole a lot more these days. 2011 showed us his injury bailouts were behind him, that he was ready to be great, and in recent years he seemed to stop taking his third wheel status personally, and instead worked to be himself out there.

    He’s a hell of a player.

  4. Dave B says:

    Great column, Joe, and I’m a Federer backer myself, but you call Nadal’s grunting something to root for? That’s one of the main reasons I root against him.

  5. Ian says:

    One of the nice things about tennis now is that the top men – Fed, Nadal, Djokovic – all seem like nice people, too. That makes rooting for them easier. Still it would have been nice to see the GOAT add one more Wimbledon.

  6. chazzykc says:

    My favorite sports writer of the last twenty years writes a wonderfully prescient essay about my favorite sporting event: Wimbledon. Within his essay he references and paraphrases a few of the components and observations from the greatest sports essay I have ever read,….…….which happens to have been written by my favorite author of the last twenty years, DFW.

    Thanks Joe! Fabulous fun read… usual.

    Roger Federer is the single greatest human athlete I have ever seen. Sadly, TV does so little justice to tennis athletes. The speed, quickness, and grace of Federer, though clearly in decline, cannot be properly appreciated by those who have not seen him live.

  7. For all this talk about Djokovic being a “3rd wheel”, the guy has 7 Majors! He’s currently tied for 13th most men’s singles majors. He’s tied with John McEnroe, John Newcombe and Mats Wilander, among others. He’s ahead of Boris Becker and Stefan Edberg. I realize he’s not in the category (yet) of Federer or Nidal (who is?), but he’s already had an awesome career by any standard (other than comparing him to Federer and Nidal, of course) & is young enough to expect more.

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