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.
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:
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]
Have seen him play 4 times & was spellbound!
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!