What he said:
“It’s much easier for the wolf that is going uphill and running up the mountain—not easier, but he was hungrier than the wolf standing on the hill.”
Novak Djokovic savoured his 11th major and sixth Australian Open overall with a meaty metaphor.
Comparing himself to a wild canine on top of the mountain, he said that he could not relax as his competitors were wolves too and hungrier.
“You can observe it from different sides, but, I believe that all the guys that are out there fighting each week to get to No. 1 are very hungry to get to No. 1, and I know that. I can’t allow myself to relax and enjoy. Of course I want to enjoy, and I will, but it’s not going to go more than few days. After that I’m already thinking about how can I continue on playing well throughout the rest of the season each tournament.
Kind of a mindset that one needs to have if one wants to stay up there. Because I think you need to work double as hard when you’re up there.
I believe that I can win every match I play (and) I’m playing the tennis of my life in the last 15 months. The results are showing that.
But you can get a very big slap from karma. I don’t want that.”
The Djoker rounded off his reverie by assuring his listeners that he was ravenous to clinch his first French Open.
“Very hungry. But the wolf needs to eat a lot of different meals to get to Paris. Paris is a dessert.”
What he really meant:
“It takes more to stay at the top than to get there.”
What he definitely didn’t:
“What a wolf-pack we male tennis players are. Woo-hoo, Woo-hoo! Ready or not, here we come! Call me Wolverine!”
Are tennis players cheats?
An expose by BuzzFeed and the BBC would have us believe so.
An investigation into a match allegedly tanked by Nikolay Davydenko in 2007 against a lower-ranked Argentine opponent, Martin Vassallo Arguello,
uncovered a series of anomalies in games lost by top-ranked players in both men and women’s tennis.
Eight of the top-50 men’s players at the Australian Open are under the scanner.
In the past, match-fixing was felt to be restricted to the lower echelons of the tennis hierarchy where journeymen lost games in exchange for cash which they could hardly hope to see in their journeymen careers.
But now, the scourge of cheating appears to have spread its tentacles all over the pristine sport.
Novak Djokovic—amongst other players—disclosed that he was approached in 2007 but he refused. Roger Federer and Serena Williams have called for names to be revealed.
The investigating team indicts gambling chains across countries such as Russia and Spain. But they have no real luck pinpointing guilty players as they had neither the authority nor permission to access players’ phone and bank records.
There exists no definitive proof of collusion with punters and guilty players can continue to bluster their way through this crisis.
It is up to the tennis authorities to ensure more transparency in the way the game is played.
Perhaps, it would help if more lower-ranked players were able to earn a living from the game. This view is opposed by Federer again who feels that cheats exist at every level and increasing prize money at lower rungs is not the solution.
Whatever the outcome of these new revelations, it is certain that upsets will be looked upon with suspicion in the future and not simply considered a glorious uncertainty of sport.
It’s a pity, really, because everyone loves an underdog.
Players have been calling for a reduction in the number of tournaments they participate in a season. They claim that the unrelenting touring takes a toll on mind, body and spirit and they are unable to be consistent and motivated enough throughout the arduous season.
The authorities would do well to look into these complaints but the players do themselves no favours by opting to partake of the bounties of exhibition games in their off-season.
Greed certainly greases the wheels, one way or the other.
Marin Cilic is in the semis of the US Open once more.
Last year, he won his maiden Slam knocking out Asian hope Kei Nishikori in the process under the watchful eye and tutelage of his countryman Goran Ivanisevic.
Tennis fans all remember Goran not just for his histrionics on court, his big booming serves but also for the fairy-tale ending to his career where he won his first and only Grand Slam at Wimbledon in 2001 after succumbing at his earlier two final appearances at the sport’s Mecca.
Cilic has been plagued with a shoulder injury this season. He missed out on the Australian Open and has had indifferent results—by his newly exalted standards—losing in the fourth round and quarter-finals at the French Open and Wimbledon respectively.
The Croat has flown under the radar at his Grand Slam homecoming in New York.
It’s always difficult returning from an injury.
No one knows that better than Cilic’s coach, Ivanisevic, who was unseeded at his maiden Grand Slam triumph, only playing with the benefit of a wild card.
But it’s Del Potro, another US Open winner, that similarities can be drawn with.
The 2009 US Open champion first suffered a left wrist injury in 2010.
He returned only after a nine-month break.
He was back to his best only in 2012 ending the year ranked No.7. He returned to the top 5 in 2013.
The recurrence of his wrist injury saw him missing out most of the 2014 season.
He returned briefly in 2015 but withdrew from the Australian Open with the injury flaring up again.
He has been operated since and is now rehabilitating.
Can Marin Cilic break the hoodoo?
Since 2003, except for Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer, no US Open champion has returned to claim the title.
The title has not been defended successfully since 2008 when Federer won the last of his US Open titles.
The singletons in the club—in terms of US Open titles in the modern era—include the likes of Arthur Ashe, Stan Smith,Ilie Năstase,Manuel Orantes, Guillermo Vilas,Mats Wilander,Boris Becker,Marat Safin,Lleyton Hewitt, Andy Roddick, Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic.
Cilic takes on a formidable foe in Novak in the semis. It could be either Federer or Wawrinka in the final. Interestingly, all the semi-finalists have at least one Slam to their credit. Wawrinka is the only one without a US Open title.
A trivial bit of trivia about Cilic is that he is yet to clinch an ATP 500 or Masters title.
It’s going to be a slug-fest. Sit back and enjoy the fireworks.
I thought I was going to be writing an article on whether Career Grand Slams have become de rigueur in the current age of tennis or we are blessed to have three to four outstanding players converge on the sport in the same era.
It was not to be.
Stanislas Wawrinka (va-vreeng-kah) had other thoughts.
The Swiss No. 2 (he’ll probably be No. 1 this week) defeated the World No. 1 Novak Djokovic in four sets on a Sunday afternoon in Paris.
He is no longer a one-Slam wonder.
Aficionados might have cribbed that his first Slam, the Australian Open in 2014, was handed him on a platter. A favourable draw and an injured Nadal were the variables that worked to his advantage.
But very few can begrudge him his second Slam. Djokovic may not have had enough time to recover from a grueling semi-final. But the Swiss had to fight hard to get to the finals, ousting his idol Federer on the way.
Wawrinka recently ended his marriage to Swiss TV presenter Ilham Vuilloud.
“We have enjoyed ten fulfilling years, with all the ups and downs that every couple experiences, but sometimes life is more challenging than one would hope.
Ilham and I were both blessed to create a family when our wonderful daughter Alexia was born in 2010. We have always tried to live our lives as a team and as a family, despite the challenges we have faced due to the demands of my career. To my great regret this isn’t possible anymore.
Ilham will always be the mother of my daughter and a person that I have a lot of love and respect for. We will always remain as a family. Now my priority is to do everything to protect Alexia during these challenging times.
I hope that the fans and the media will understand that I’ve always been very protective of my private life and wish to continue to do so not giving any further information about the situation.”
Nice guys do not have to always finish last.
What he said:
"I think everyone’s light turns on at their own time. I’m starting to feel like mine is turning on."
Donald Young, once labelled the ‘next big thing’ of American tennis, feels that he’s a late bloomer, much like Mardy Fish. Young is 22 and was the youngest ever junior Grand Slam winner at 15—before Bernard Tomic—winning the Australian Open in 2005. Young beat Lukas Lacko in straight sets to make it to the second round of the US Open.
What he really meant:
“I need more electricity. Can I find it here at the US Open?”
What he definitely didn’t:
“Until now, I was a light bulb without a filament.Cold.Dead.”
Roger Federer won his last major in January 2010 in Melbourne at the Australian Open.
The six majors that followed were divided among two bionic contestants, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic.
The Spaniard claimed four, the Serb two.
Has the Swiss truly fallen by the wayside?
It was, perhaps, a bit of both.
For the first two sets, it seemed as though it was to be yet another cakewalk for the Swiss. The motions were smooth; the serve was chugging along like a Rolls Royce. The Frenchman was sleepwalking his way out of the tournament.
Then suddenly, something changed. It was, as though, the Ali-lookalike realised that this was his best chance—his only one. He had nothing to lose, so why not go at it full-tilt like the gladiator he is?
The first break of Roger’s sublime service fuelled this belief. That, maybe, there was something to be gainsaid from it all.
Roger Federer is through to his first major final since the 2010 Australian Open.
He was written off. Yet he bounced back.
Novak Djokovic can console himself that he almost took the match into the final set. It says a lot for the progress he has made in the past six months. His confidence has skyrocketed and setbacks are to be met with unequivocal defiance.
Federer may not have captured a Slam in over a year but he was unlikely to let a 2-0 lead in a Grand Slam semi-final go to waste. The writing was on the wall. The Djoker delayed the inevitable—splendidly.
Image via Wikipedia
The game of musical chairs at the top of the pile continues, featuring Kim Clijsters and Caroline Wozniacki.
The Belgian enjoyed a short spell as No. 1 before being swapped out by the surprisingly resilient Dane within a week.
The debate—whether the rankings accurately depict the state of women’s tennis—rages on. This does not detract from the luscious blonde’s achievements; it is a reflection of the fact that quantity can sometimes displace quality.
Image via Wikipedia
Novak Djokovic played spoilsport at the 2011 Australian Open annexing his second major after a dry spell of three years.
Sportswriters were forced to scramble to change the headlines they had imagined citing either a Rafael Nadal or Roger Federer triumph. They had to reinvent their catch-phrases.(Damn you, Djokovic!)
The Serb’s victory was welcomed as the emergence of the Third Force.
The fallout was swift. In a rush to hail the rise of the young brigade, ‘tennis pundits’ were quick to pronounce death sentence on the Federer- Nadal rivalry.
It may soon be a case of the doomsayers having to eat their words all over again.
However, they are not totally wrong.