Home » Sports » Novak Djokovic: the Least Inspiring Tennis Player Ever

Novak Djokovic: the Least Inspiring Tennis Player Ever

Goodness, that Novak Djokovic. He got to be the number 1 player in the world, hold that position for longer than nearly anyone else in tennis history, and he did it all with the fewest number of fans any successful tennis player has ever had.

Did that previous paragraph sound familiar to you? Did you click through that title up there and read that paragraph above and continue to read eagerly because you couldn’t wait to read about what makes that Serbian dude so incredibly uninspiring?


You, my friend, have been victimized by a clickbait headline. And you know what else, I’m not even going to apologize for it.

Because I personally have read, over the last 2 or 3 years, far too many variations of the above headline and the opening paragraph. Sometimes I keep reading, out of morbid curiosity. More often than not, I stop and roll my eyes and wonder why people who write articles like this want to insist that millions of avid tennis fans around the world simply don’t exist.

I mean, if you don’t like Novak Djokovic, fine. We all have different opinions and tastes. Yours is wrong, but that’s fine.

(Kidding! Really!)

What I do have a problem with are articles that want to go the next step out and insist that I could not possibly exist because Novak Djokovic is my favorite tennis player.

What’s more, I’m not even Serbian. How is that even possible?

It’s very possible.

I do exist. And so do millions of other tennis fans for whom Novak is their favorite player.

And I for one am tired of reading headlines saying that Novak isn’t inspiring, that while he’s pretty good at playing tennis and all, he can’t possibly invite the kind of devotion that, say, Roger Federer does. He just isn’t magical enough.

So this post is going to say something quite different: that Novak Djokovic’s tennis is beautiful and… shall I say it? … inspiring. 

Here’s what I love about his tennis:

  • His clean, impossible-to-read service motion
  • His ability to effortlessly redirect shots
  • His ridiculous speed, can run down nearly anything
  • His insane ability to prevent aces with lunging returns
  • His stinging down-the-line shots
  • His ability to hit winners from the most unbelievable positions imaginable (including nearly full-splits)
  • His deceptively soft hands
  • And best of all, the way he roars in triumph after important points. Passion!

I found several other folks (thanks to Twitter.com) who appreciate Novak and were willing to offer their own viewpoints. I’m listing them here:

Giancarlo Navas:
How he makes great offensive tennis players hit two or three extra shots to win a point is something I’ll forever marvel at

His down the lines shots
His changing the direction of shots
His ballerina split
Getting to every drop [shot]
His tenacity
Have seen him play 4 times & was spellbound!

Jay Schroe:
Cleanest ball striker on tour

One of my favorite things is a change that ocurred over time. His improved posture on serve. He stands so straight and proud now. And to me, his ball toss and motion are the prettiest.

His intelligence to identify important moments in a match and change the momentum in the blink of an eye.

One more thing I’d like to add that doesn’t really necessarily relate to his tennis, but it does relate to his mental game. For several years now I’ve been in awe of how Novak is able to, at one moment, scream in frustration over a missed shot, a missed break point, a set that was in hand and that he’s let slip away… and in the next moment, he’s fine. He’s calm. He’s focused. He’s able to return to the task at hand.

And quite often, he’s able to turn the match back in his favor and close it out.

Forgive me, folks. I’m no David Foster Wallace. I don’t consider Novak to be a “religious experience” and frankly, I don’t want to. (He’s a human being, for heaven’s sake, not an “experience.”)

I am, however, a huge tennis fan and have been since 1988. For nearly 30 years I’ve watched and loved tennis. I’ve seen amazing tennis players come and go.

But I’ve never seen a player who was able to strip tennis down to its most basic essentials, flow like liquid, play as if he was born to cover a court from baseline to doubles alley to net and back again.

Not until Novak Djokovic came along!

P.S.: If you’d like to add your own notes about what you love about Novak’s tennis, please share in the comments!


14 thoughts on “Novak Djokovic: the Least Inspiring Tennis Player Ever

  1. Novak Djokovic not only inspired me but changed me.I have been a fan since 2008 but the 2012 Australian Open made me sit up in awe because I moved me.He moved me with his will to be better,to find that one strand of inspiration when where things seems to an heading towards doomsday.I couldn’t believe that I was sitting at home and complaining about my life when there he was just conquering the world with sheer willpower and hardwork.He inspired me to work harder than I possibly could to be where I need to be.I’m now pursuing a PhD and Novak Djokovic inspired me to be where I am.

  2. His willingness to change, to improve, to be better every day, to find solutions for all challenges of the best players in the world at their best surfaces, to adjust to new situations and circumstances, to overcome the most challenging and hostile environments… Again, and again, and again…

  3. Great articule , i am a tennis fan sincero have 5 years old. I AM From Ecuador south America , all over the years i have been a constant tennis watcher and player . I respec and admire every tennis player just for the reason of having such a talent that i would love to has. But i was always cheering for Andres Gomez , Nicolas Lapenti for obvious reasons but Connors , Sampras , Rafa among other great player were my favorites . But noboa y hace filled a space so brillliantly on my perception of what tennis must be and how i wish once to be a player like Nole is. This great come back of two of the other greatest just confirm how great and amazing have been novaks lastra years dominating the tour .nobody can have positiva records against Rafa and roger . He beats them on their prefered surfaces , places and more that once . He is defintely inspiring to me for the history of his Life and abobe all his mental power to never give up . Never Matters that all the experts never give him as favorite or try to take him out of one of the greatest , he will be for sure and i AM looking forward that this wimbledon will be the great scenario for that .

  4. Novak Djokovic is the greatest returner, and reactor, I have ever seen in the game of tennis. When he is on his game he cannot be aced on any ball he can (with his incredible speed) reach, and will end up making his opponents run back and forth helplessly trying to stay in the point, until the opponent eventually makes the inevitable mistake. He is also always interesting to listen to in interviews, etc., as a very thoughtful man who is constantly striving to improve himself. His run in 2015-2016 (also 2011) was truly something to behold. I expect more greatness from him going forward, as well.

  5. What a wonderful blog, I wish had found it ages ago. I’m also another avid fan of Nole’s and surprise surprise, I’m not Serbian either (I can testify that we exist despite the Fedal fans protestations to to the contrary) 🙂

  6. His two hand backhand out wide off an offensive shot is what I consider to be one of the best tennis shot ever. His nutritional advice and book can help anyone. His foundation for children and his team at Eqvita!

  7. Thank you so much for writing this.
    .My contribution: So much to inspire, but I love the way he is always gracious and generous, whether in winning or defeat.

  8. I agree that he is really good. When Roger is not playing I like to watch him, but, the fact is, the number of people who enjoy his tennis is far lower than the two big stars. But the positive point you can take is that he has more fans than guys ranked no.5 to no.2000. It’s not that we hate him, but when we are in the stadiums and see him facing somebody like Roger or Rafa, even if you are undecided at the start you will be attracted to the other players charisma and shot making, simple as that.

    • That’s a nice theory, but I know plenty of Novak fans who were never drawn to Rafa or Roger but were drawn to Novak. And, in fact, I’m one of them. “Charisma” and “shotmaking” are actually pretty subjective qualities.

      And to be honest I’m not really sure of your point in posting this comment. Was it simply to point out that Novak isn’t as popular and couldn’t possibly be as popular as Rafa and Roger? I’m not sure why that’s necessary. Go find one of the 5 million articles/columns/pieces arguing that point.

  9. I’m not Serbian, I’m English. My husband isn’t Serbian, he’s Croatian. And yet Novak is our favourite player for many reasons. He’s exciting to watch, he moves incredibly fast, he’s made of elastic, he’s an intelligent player with a wonderful talent for impossible shot-making. Never mind his tennis, he’s a genuinely nice guy, kind, funny, humanitarian, humble, generous and respectful to his opponents. For us he really is the all round GOAT.

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