Cheryl Murray

  • Novak Djokovic's unsung hero

    2013-06-06 04:05:09

    I would like to introduce you to Novak Djokovic. And I don't just mean the guy who manages to beat Federer and Nadal on a fairly regular basis. Most of us know his tennis pedigree at this point. We know that history could be made on Sunday in the form of a THIRD contemporary of this generation to secure the Career Slam.

    Think about that for a minute. It's a feat that has been accomplished by only a rare few players in the history of the modern era. If Djokovic wins on Sunday, it will (at least in my mind) cement this as the second Golden Age of tennis.

    That, in and of itself, is extraordinary. Had Novak Djokovic grown up on a Mediterranean island or amongst the peaceful tranquility of Swiss mountains, it would still be an amazing accomplishment, simply because of the quality of his opponents. The fact that he grew up in the middle of the bloodiest and most savage European war since World War II makes his accomplishments nothing short of miraculous.

    I am old enough to remember the Balkan Wars, which is to say that I heard the words "Kosovo" and "NATO bombings in Belgrade". I never fully grasped how literal the term "war-torn" was, however. The former Yugoslavia was quite literally ripped apart by bombs, by hatred, by genocide. And all of this happened when Novak Djokovic was learning to play tennis, a gift given to him by coach Jelena Gencic.

    With her country falling apart around her, Gencic still trained tennis players, working at a club just outside Belgrade. She knew her stuff, did Ms. Gencic. She had, after all, trained Monica Seles and Goran Ivanisevic. And what she saw in young Nole was superstar potential, a future great champion.

    She would listen to news on the radio of the bombings and report back to the Djokovic family about where it might be safe to play the next day. She discovered that if her part of the city was bombed one day, it would probably be safe to play there the next day, as the pattern was to take turns dropping bombs on different parts of town. The strategy worked and young hopeful Novak Djokovic stayed safe.

    Checking bomb reports is certainly not in the job description of your run-of-the-mill tennis coach...then again Jelena Gencic wasn't just a coach. She was his protector, perhaps literally saving his life. He moved on to Germany to a different coach after it became obvious that his innate talent and abilities had outgrown the inadequate facilities in Belgrade. Nole never forgot his first coach though.

    On June 1 Jelena Gencic died. Nole said she was like a second mother to him. Now, when we Americans call someone a second mother, we think of the lady who let you have ice cream for breakfast and cheered loudest at your high school graduation.

    But for Novak, "second mother" isn't just a term. Jelena Gencic nurtured him, taught him discipline and protected him from harm. In other words, a true second mother. It's a sobering wake-up call for those of us who can only vaguely grasp that the suffering of war creates heroes every bit as much as it makes villains. My condolences to him on what must be terrible grief.

    And so again, I introduce you to Novak Djokovic, a great champion, a quiet philanthropist, a hero to the Serbian people and a man for whom tennis and survival must be inexorably linked. You might not cheer for him...and with his habit of defeating the two most popular players in the sport, many of you probably don't. But you SHOULD respect and (dare I say it) admire him.

Tell a friend »


First. Somebody had to be. I mean, the blog was just hanging there, forlornly.

C'mon Nole fans!

rafaisthebest , 6/6/13 7:32 AM

Chapeau to Cheryl for writing this blog.

Whenever I have felt hostile towards Nole for the manner in which he celebrates his wins, I also remind myself of his extraordinar achievement in rising to the pinnacle of tennis against all the odds and chide myself for the curmudgeonly reaction.

ed251137 , 6/6/13 9:38 AM


nadline , 6/6/13 9:38 AM

adje nole!

rafaelo , 6/6/13 10:26 AM

I may not be a Novak fan but I have nothing but respect for his talent, hard work and fighting spirit. I love that he is pushing Rafa to the limit, forcing him to push the envelope even further, enhancing our pleasure. Because of this, Novak and his other cohorts, Muzza, Fed and Rafa have ensured that this can never be referred to as a "weak era".

I will not be a hypocrite and wish him an RG title this year (or any year when Rafa is in contention) for obvious reasons. I wish him the best of luck in his tussles with Rafa and hope he always comes second!

rafaisthebest , 6/6/13 10:27 AM

Thank you Cheryl for dedicating the blog to Nole and Jelena. I didn't expect it and I am quite speechless right now. Let me be off, maybe I'll be able to say something smart in the morning :).

PS: Jelena Gencic was a pretty well known name in Belgrade. She was excelling in both handball and tennis but was also a director on national TV.

danica , 6/6/13 10:49 AM

Great article.

Nole is an inspiration for many many....... not just for tennis fans

sabs , 6/6/13 11:48 AM

Danica: I wish I could withdraw a rather snide comment re: mourning in private that was made in the heat of the moment earlier this week. Cultural differences at work again I'm afraid. The British stiff upper lip and all that.

ed251137 , 6/6/13 11:52 AM

danica -- I'm glad you enjoyed it. I feel that Nole is not properly appreciated outside Serbia and wanted to do my little part to try to begin to rectify that.

cherylmurray , 6/6/13 12:33 PM

Thanks Cheryl... good post...
Story about Nole will have many more pages, in a years to come. I really hope his rivalry with Rafa will continue... and that he will have more victories.
Great champion, and what is more important for me, even greater human being .
Good luck on Friday...
May the better man win!

zare , 6/6/13 12:36 PM

Gr8 article cheryl thanx :)
Nole seems such a lovely bloke too *wub.*

deuce , 6/6/13 1:17 PM

Nole has proved a great inspiration to Fed fans, some of whom are constantly obsessing about asses and worse stinking up this forum with their putrid posts.

holdserve , 6/6/13 2:57 PM

Cheryl, thank you for this fine article
especially for the details regarding her life and accomplishments

the circumstances of Nole's early years are never far from my mind
I've had many conversations with a friend who hails from those parts about life there before during and after that war, and what Nole's accomplishments mean to the people there

chlorostoma , 6/6/13 3:29 PM

cheryl, is it part of your tribute to Nole that you are overlooking the filthy posts of the Fed fans posing as Nole fans? Like in "Lord of the Flies" where without adults to impose rules of civil society the kids degenerated into savages, this forum without moderation is turning into a cesspool of vile posts.

holdserve , 6/6/13 3:40 PM

have some respect

this post is about Nole's first coach, a woman with absolutely outstanding qualities and achievements and who has just now sadly passed away

not the place for your last two posts (with all due respect), consider posting them elsewhere

chlorostoma , 6/6/13 3:45 PM

chloro, what do you know of respect? Let us not even go there.
I am greatly distressed by the obscene posts of the fake Nole fans and considering this is a thread on which cheryl is active, I decided to bring it to her attention that this site has been infiltrated by foul mouthed pseudo Nole fans resulting in some decent posters also resorting to filthy language.
What is worse these new invaders do not make any posts about tennis and have completely hijacked certain threads into obscene territory. I consider that I am being more respectful to Nole and his mentor by bringing it to Cheryl's notice that obscenities are being posted by pseudo Nole fans and that is disrespectful to Nole and his mentor.
However with your distorted sense of what's right and what's wrong . I don't expect you to understand it.

holdserve , 6/6/13 4:21 PM

read what I wrote. Let me add to it: I agree with you and so many others here that those trolling posts have no place here and are beyond the pale

but I really don't think this is the thread to go on and on about it

I am sure Cheryl has read many of those trolling posts, over the last months in particular, as well as those in which voice our views on them

and in what way was I disrepectful to you? get some perspective please

chlorostoma , 6/6/13 4:31 PM

rafaisthebest, 6/6/13 10:27 AM


If rafa cannot be champ at RG this year, no one is more worthy than Nole and I would wish him the best in the final and congratulate him and his true fans.

For that matter, any of the remaining four are deserving and I will be happy for them.

Rafa for sure the most though for me, no?


Conspirator , 6/6/13 4:58 PM

Well chloro it is your opinion that this is not the thread to post my unhappiness about the trolls who are disrespecting Nole and his values by posting garbage pretending to be his fans.
But your opinion is not binding on me. I am entitled to my own opinion. I do not recognize the authority of any thought police of which you appear to be a passionate member. So kindly refrain from telling me how I should think or to stay away from any thread.
I feel posting on this thread is the best way of drawing cheryl's attention to the obscenities fouling up all the other threads. She obviously doesn't go to the other threads otherwise the pestilence would not be active on those threads.
Do me a favor chloro and refrain from giving me your advice. Just keep your know all opinions ( based as you admitted not on facts but baseless assumptions ) to yourself. I have had enough of my past interactions with you where you attacked me without understanding anything and where my post was not even remotely concerning you. But you think you have the right to decide what is right and what is not, even if you do not understand.

holdserve , 6/6/13 9:36 PM

ok cheryl, you are forgiven now you don't like the way nole celebrates his wins :). nice article.

rfzr , 6/6/13 10:19 PM


You do ok when you take the rafa blinkers off. Novak is very well admired and his popularity will only keep increasing as he keeps adding to his slam count and no.1 weeks.

RIP Jelena. Your contribution to tennis is top-notch. I hope this woman is in the tennis HOF. She absolutely deserves it - Seles and Nole! Like the williams' sisters, they are the balkan siblings.

novakisthebest , 6/6/13 11:00 PM

An excellent read, moving too.
My compliments, Cheryl Murray

dejanaja , 6/7/13 1:59 AM

Finally! I was wondering when the next Novak Djokovic article would appear when there was none in the wake of his significant defenses of the year end no.1 ranking and AO 2013. But you have done him a lot of justice in this article, even if I'm of the view that conditions have a lot to do with three potential career slammers in the span of 5 years.

Jelena Gencic rarely gets mentioned in the mainstream, but between Seles, Nole and Ivanisevic, she's been behind three great players characters an characters alike. That is quite an achievement - deserves to be up there among the great coaches of our times.

samprallica , 6/7/13 2:00 AM

sampralica -- I agree that surfaces have become homogenized far more than in...say the 90s. It's still a remarkable achievement. Except for DelPo and now Muzza, the other 3 have shut everyone out...for a LONG time.

Gencic deserves to be inducted into the Tennis Hall of Fame posthumously for sure. That woman clearly had a gift for recognizing and nurturing talent.

cherylmurray , 6/7/13 2:27 AM

I thought "Lord of the Flies' was a fascinating read. Appropriate analogy.

chr18 , 6/7/13 3:29 AM

chr18, I am happy you could appreciate the analogy.
Sadly Cheryl hasn't indicated she is going to do anything about the problem even though she is active on this thread and must have read my posts attempting to bring the matter to her notice.

holdserve , 6/7/13 4:01 AM

There are literally hundreds of posts and the French Open has kept me busy. I will try to sort through them soon.

In the meantime, I suppose it's too much to ask that you ignore trolling attempts???

cherylmurray , 6/7/13 4:15 AM

Thanks Cheryl. I am definitely ignoring the trolls.

holdserve , 6/7/13 5:02 AM

cherylmurray , 6/7/13 2:27 AM

I say overall conditions because the balls and racquets/strings have had their contributions towards this too. You used to have to play two different styles of tennis in the 90s to win on clay and grass, now you can do it with minor adjustments.

samprallica , 6/7/13 5:41 AM

Surely it is not a novak fan who created a moniker called novakisthebitch. However, you would not realise that if you hear holdserve's whining. She does approve such novak and federer name calling and has indulged in it very much. I would hope Cheryl/Ricky can check the blogs for who is doing the name-calling.

novakisthebest , 6/7/13 12:58 PM

for posting so much about RG last fortnight and about today's Rafole match, where were you during it? Why not post support for Novak while he was fighting so well, and why not post happiness when he was ahead? Many Novak fans did. Wait, are you one of them? Novak fans, I mean ;-).

chlorostoma , 6/7/13 9:38 PM

grafight , 6/8/13 10:26 AM

grafight , 6/8/13 10:27 AM

Ahhrg! Sorry for the double post! and the typo on the first line. I mean to say HIS childhood coach, of course.

grafight , 6/8/13 10:29 AM

grafight -- I was saying that Gencic was Djokovic's unsung hero.

cherylmurray , 6/8/13 2:28 PM

cheryl, I got that, but the last paragraph seems to apply those qualities to Djokovic as well.
Truth is, its a beautiful article, and nobody can judge what's in a person's heart. Maybe he honestly believes he's doing the best thing for his country, and Kosovo independence is indeed a complex issue.
Also he was just a child when Milosevic was perpetrating his racially motivated atrocities, so I don't blame him for that. I just disagree strongly with his present politics.

grafight , 6/8/13 4:06 PM

grafight, that was the most insulthing thing I have ever read! Belgrade was safe?! NATO targets were military?! Albanian kids were killed by Serbian troops? Djokovic's family was wealthy?!

Stop talking about something you have no f*****g clue about! xFxbBZuvunyFlwIxXdJn6nU6OGg es/_427670_belgrade.jpg OMQPcIsyOjoDcNUhb7eIeCZNTx0Q8syNFyjFAdYempEDxVk3

And there are plenty more of those on Google.

"All he had to do was hide in the basement''....having gone through this myself, I assure you there is nothing more terrifying! With your comment, you just insulted millions of people (not only Serbians), you ignorant a**!

You can not like Djokovic, that's fine, but don't talk about something you have no idea about AND insult thousands of Serbians who were cowardly murdered NATO to fulfill its political agenda. And the thousands who were murdered (and had their organs sold) by the Taci and his OVK!

It's sad I have to talk about this on a freaking tennis forum. It won't happen again, but I COULD NOT let his/her comments pass. It's insulting to Djokovic, my country. my people and every single innocent life that was taken away (and their families).

nemanja230690 , 6/9/13 11:04 PM

What Ricky fails to mention is that all the good players other than Jerzy are grouped in Haas' quarter so it's Haas with the tough draw, not Fed.


Conspirator , 6/10/13 12:26 AM

Sorry to hear that you had to personally endure the bombings.
It sounds by the tone of your response that you believe Milosevic and his army didn't do anything wrong. If so, I know that no amount of evidence I could link to would ever persuade you otherwise.
That's the way it is with conflict. Both sides suffer but neither side is willing to accept any responsibility. Today Albanian Muslims are guilty of violence against Serbs in Northern Kosovo, and they deny it. It goes on and on, sadly.
I wish Nole would use his position to be a voice for peace, then he would be my hero as well.

grafight , 6/10/13 2:41 AM

When a person becomes great, his journey from humble or difficult beginnings is always exaggerated for the sake of a good story. Like Lincoln's journey from the log cabin to the White House ( which was a greatly exaggerated story). So also Djokovic's hardships. If not just Nole but a bunch of them like Tipsy, Troicki, Jankovic, Ivanovic etc could all get good training in tennis from an early age, something is definitely exaggerated in the story of the hardships.

holdserve , 6/10/13 3:19 AM

Cheryl was a little bit hasty here. She was taking it for granted that Djokovic would beat Rafa and go on to win RG. She could have paid homage to Novak for what he has already achieved, which is praiseworthy enough, without launching into the 'ifs', 'coulds' and 'woulds'.

No one who hasn't lived through a war can begin to argue about what it must be like, but there are tennis players from both sides of the conflict and by singling out Djokovic for overcoming the adversities of war to become a top tennis player and not acknowledging that players like Cilic were just as affected is verging on appearing to judge people's suffering and courage according to their ranking.

What Ms Gencic didn't teach Djokovic was humility and avoid pride before a fall.

tethys , 6/10/13 12:23 PM

tethys , 6/10/13 12:23 PM

Cheryl, like Djokovic himself, allowed herself to believe the hocus-pocus that anyone who wins Monte Carlo wins RG. All based on the observation that when Rafa won MC, he invariably won RG. But this is the stuff of Ouija boards, not science. There is no proven positive correlation between events which take place at Monte Carlo and those that take place at RG.

If Rafa won Monte Carlo and then went on to win RG it was because of hard work, not because of predeterminism at work.

As for MC conditions being similar to RG's, again, not true. RG court surface is faster than MC's, all things being equal.

rafaisthebest , 6/10/13 1:05 PM

Imagine paying homage to Nole for winning RG before he actually won it. Cheryl should calm down, she often writes Rafa off only to be proved wrong. At the USO 2010, I distinctly remember Cheryl thinking Rafa wouldn't go beyond the last 16 and Rafa never even dropped his serve until the SF.

It's just as well the winner in tennis is not decided by a panel of judges made up of people like Cheryl. It doesn't matter who they want to win, the outcome is decided on court.

#whistling in the wind

nadline , 6/10/13 1:42 PM

.........and Rafa won the USO title in 2010.

nadline , 6/10/13 1:52 PM

Cheryl doesn't actually say he "will" win RG. She said he "could" win RG, which indeed he could've.

deuce , 6/10/13 4:20 PM

Trouble is, deucy, Cheryl's next article after this homage was the semi final preview where she picked Djokovic to win. Don't know about you, but for me, a pick is an expectation to win, not a could.

If it walks like a duck and quacks like one...........".

rafaisthebest , 6/10/13 4:44 PM

We sure do respect Nole and his achievements...Nole is admired enough with or without a blog to address his "war torn country" has nothing to do with tennis and I disapprove mentioning it when write about tennis...I agree it should then equally be addressed if there is a blog on: Cilic, Karlovic, Dodig, Ljubicic, Typsy, etc. But it would no longer be a tennis forum, no?...I would honestly stay away from NATO, bombings, Kosovo and Balkan war when talking about you ever say that tennis in the USA has been affected by the terrorist attack on Sept. 11th? Simply there is no reason to mention it here on the tennis forum...we as posters sometimes bring up irrelevant stuff as we all tend to drift from the main topic just to find the reason to argue about but seriously Cheryl I don't think the words "hatred and genocide" belong here...
moreover, politics should be left out from the tennis forum as there is always much more to be said about it by those who have had the "honor" to live through it...and in this unfortunate case it could lead to a distorted picture of Nole's family or the Serbian people for that manner...nobody is competent enough here to speak about wars...

so, we should observe Nole as an athlete who made the whole Serbia proud and whose fighting spirit and tennis talent are worth admiration...he is the jewel of Serbian sport and the world recognizes it. He will be remembered for what he has achieved and is yet to achieve in tennis...IMHO everything else is personal and should be left out from a tennis forum...

natashao , 6/10/13 5:33 PM

Quite agree with your points @natashao. Personally, I judged myself unqualified to comment on the political aspects of Cheryl's blog and limited my comments to Novak and his tennis. Having said that, I can't help but notice a strong relationship between Serbian tennis and Serbian politics. I have in mind here the awarding of diplomatic passports to all Serbian players who brought home the Davis Cup. That was a political move, no? I do not remember reading about such overtly political largesse for any other Davis Cup winning team for any other nation.

The point I am making is this: while it would be normal to not include any political issues in a tennis blog, it seems to me politics and tennis are so entertwined in Serbia anyway such that it is no surprise when the two are mentioned in the same breath. Not suggesting tennis's the only recipient of similar largesse, just using it as an example.

If my observation is correct, then it should come as no surprise that Cheryl mentions politics in the blog.

rafaisthebest , 6/10/13 5:58 PM

deuce, Cheryl was praising Nole for his achievements despite the difficulty he endured when he started on his tennis path. But the main basis for her praise was based on the tenuous fact that he was going to win RG. Nole has achieved a lot that she could have used to make her point but she chose to get carried away and award him RG championship even before he won the SF. Surely just being #1 in the world is enough on which to base the blog. He hadn't won the FO, so why praise him in advance.

You cannot write a citation based on ifs, coulds and woulds.

nadline , 6/10/13 8:36 PM

This thread was well intended but just wrong on so many levels. I think it's best just erased from my memory banks.

Maya , 6/10/13 9:06 PM

Good write up and very bad response mostly from the Rafa Fans. Anybody who had won a Slam is a Hero, including those who are one slam wonder like Andy Roddick, Goran, Hewit etc. There are a hell of a lot of great tennis players who did not win a slam and the list is long, Ferrer, Berdych, Tsonga who reached the finals and Nalbandian who did not for once but won the year end event once. Even they are heroes as well having pursued the dreaM WITH DEDICATION.

Nole is a very good sportsman who still applauds a great shot of his opponent on court, a rarity because I have not seen any of the greats of the game doing it for decades, not even by that great Stefan or the charmer Guga. He brought a fresh air with his comic copies of Nadal, Andy, Sarapova and Serena. He competes heart out but fair. I liked his attitude in the interview in a locker room telling flatly that he is not overawed with any player. His time is here and he is progressing on clay in the same fashion Rafa did on grass- one set at a time. I for one would not be surprised if he takes the Paris Crown from the King of Clay in 2014. Like Federer barely managed in 2007, so did Rafa Friday. Give the Dude his due. He is a hero-no doubt.

newfangkc , 6/10/13 9:18 PM

your writing is nice but watch when some posters start proving you wrong regarding Nole's applauding great shots of his opponents. Their reasoning is that he is patronizing the other player and thus showing his disrespect. I know, sounds completely crazy.

it's ok if you choose to believe someone who openly lied on the US national television. But you have no idea what was going on in Kosovo decades prior the conflict, during the conflict and after the conflict. Talking about military targeting is insulting because for anyone who lived through this, it was obvious that it wasn't. And please, nationalism and chauvinism are not the same. Everyone is a nationalist when defending their country. Ask Americans.

The whole generation of Serbian sportsmen, including the tennis generation of Zimonjic, was literally destroyed by the international sanctions on Serbia since they were not allowed to go to international competitions. Never were such actions taken against anybody. Also, no visas were issued for sportsmen to go out later, or very rarely. So, RITB, when you speak of Serbian sport and Serbian politics, bear in mind that politics was brought to Serbian sport by international super powers who had other agendas. Sports and politics should not go hand in hand on such a level. Period. Even though the problem with obtaining visas is, for the most part, not valid anymore, having been a pretty recent experience, there is no wonder why diplomatic passports were issued.

There is always a lot more than what appears on the surface. That's why I try not to judge and try to refrain from making certain comments.

danica , 6/10/13 10:03 PM

Sorry @newfangkc, that cannot cut it. You cannot state a conclusion i.e. that Rafa Fans have made bad responses, and not back that up with a statement of the bad responses made by the Rafans! Posters on this thread have made their points, with arguments. Refute them if you want but do so with arguments, not just an accusatory statement. If you do that, who knows, they may come up with counter arguments of their own to persuade you to their point of view!


rafaisthebest , 6/10/13 10:07 PM

'I will not be a hypocrite and wish him an RG title this year (or any year when Rafa is in contention) for obvious reasons. I wish him the best of luck in his tussles with Rafa and hope he always comes second!'.

'Nole has proved a great inspiration to Fed fans, some of whom are constantly obsessing about asses and worse stinking up this forum with their putrid posts.'

'deuce, Cheryl was praising Nole for his achievements despite the difficulty he endured when he started on his tennis path. But the main basis for her praise was based on the tenuous fact that he was going to win RG. Nole has achieved a lot that she could have used to make her point but she chose to get carried away and award him RG championship even before he won the SF. Surely just being #1 in the world is enough on which to base the blog. He hadn't won the FO, so why praise him in advance.

You cannot write a citation based on ifs, coulds and woulds.'

All of you did not even understand the sentiment Cheryl expressed. It is all about the Lady who spotted and nurtured the talent in Nole and under the difficult times Sebija was passing through under KFOR. The selfless Lady passed away and that is what made this a good reading.

There is life beyond Winners and Losers on a tennis court. And I swear I will not defend anything I ever write in my posts that is few and far between. I am just a fan of tennis and I love a few of them a little more than some others e.g, I always supported Edberg against Lendle, Mac against Borg but it never meant Lendle or Borg were not great, loveable players, I did not like their style of play and that's it. I admired Sampras and disliked Agassi for mannerism alone. I disliked Courier in that FO final doing drama but admired Guga for his loving and always smiling face. It is all about personal choices, but can't pass judgments on courier, he is a great on-court presenter now. But I don't admire haters. I love Roger but don't hate Rafa or for that matter any player on tour. I only hate fanatics.

newfangkc , 6/11/13 12:07 AM

#1 - Everyone lies. Clinton lied, Milosevic lied, Albanian leaders lied. And innocent people on both sides suffer.
#2 - You don't know what I know. If someone disagrees with you, "you have no idea" is not an argument.
#3 - I think we should put this to rest. Sorry if I have offended people, but the voice of the other side never gets heard because they don't have a top player. But they do have opinions: erous-serbian.html

grafight , 6/11/13 3:52 AM

newfangkc is obviously a delusional Fed fan. He pretends to be objective but so clearly isn't.
He claims my post is a bad response although it simply stated the fact that some Fed fans have latched on to Nole (just as some have to Soderling and Rosol for no reason other than that they beat Rafa). But what is different about the latest invasion by Fed fans pretending to be Nole fans is that they are foul mouthed talking about asses and using obscene words. Newfangkc obviously has no problems with those disgusting posters and expects Rafa fans not to object to their putrid posts. What a hypocrite!!

holdserve , 6/11/13 4:28 AM

@newfangkc, so you would rather I was a hypocrite and wished Novak success in his tussles with Rafa? Just to satisfy your standard of what constitutes a nice Rafan? Sorry, those are your values, not mine, hypocrisy I mean.

@danica, my point about Serbian sport being enter - twined with politics was merely a response to @natashao's reservations about politics being included by Cheryl in her blog. My point is exactly the one you make, that sometimes politics ans sport can not be separated, therefore you cannot write a blog about sport in Serbia or a Serbian sporting icon and not include politics somehow.

You made a comment about Serbian sports persons having suffered isolation as a result of sanctions and said never were such actions taken against anybody. You are wrong. When South Africa was under apartheid White Minority Rule, international sanctions were imposed against the country and these sanctions included ALL sporting activities. Like Serbians, South African sports persons were not allowed to travel outside of South Africa for sporting events nor were international sporting events and persons allowed to visit South Africa for sports. So, Serbia was not the only country which has suffered from this peculiarity. Just wanted to correct you there.

rafaisthebest , 6/11/13 6:06 AM

Beautifully written blog piece but terrible bunch of nutters commets. Novak Djokovic has a big heart. Wishing him a successful career!

leftarmgonewrong , 6/11/13 6:59 AM

" He brought a fresh air with his comic copies of Nadal, Andy, Sarapova and Serena."

Well said, newfang. I am glad some Nole fans can actually speak what is so terrific about Nole rather than sucking upto the rafatrolls. Nole has a fun-loving personality like safin/haas and in a tennis world where Roger is the diplomat and nay-dull is afraid to say anything because his uncle does not permit him to talk, Nole was a breath of fresh air. He is a winner on the court - on all surfaces and outside the court too.[the mediocre clay is not a big deal, sampras never won and no one even cares he did not win it].

You heard it here 1st - Djokovic will end his career with atleast more slams than nay-dull and more weeks at number 1 and also more Year End Championship wins. With luck on his side, he might even better Roger's records. Don't bother with the rafa trolls, once wimbledon rolls and nadal does his customary withdrawal or losing to rosol, they will go back to hiding in their caves like leeeches.

Ajde Nole! Champion with a personality!

JamesDjokovicFan , 6/11/13 9:40 AM

I agree. This is not a thread to dig the old animosities up. This was a piece devoted to Jelena Gencic who nurtured, discovered or coached several Grand Slam champions - Mima Jausovec, Monika Seles, Goran Ivanisevic, Iva Majoli, Nole Djokovic... I read one of her interviews where she talked about how she saw little Arantxa Sanchez play while her brothers were already established players. She told the parents to pay more attention to the girl because she had potential. This story is about her being a hero, not Nole (who did become one in his own right).

However, you chose to diminish Novak's hardships and results. You even belittle the humanitarian efforts done not only by Nole, but by other great sportsmen. He had the right to chose where his monies would go and what his priorities were. Other players, or rather, most of them, thankfully didn't have to go through the horrors of war. Novak decided to give to the children of Serbia who are in need, Serbia being a poor country now. As you know, it is also a very multicultural country. It doesn't matter whether the proceeds go to Serbs, Hungarians, Slovaks, Albanians... I believe everyone that lives there has the same right to help. Giving elsewhere, while people in your own country are suffering, would be looked upon with scorn. Novak was known for his humanitarian work even before his Foundation was established.

As for the link you provided, I read it before. It is maybe good you post it for people can see what a close minded and hateful person can conceive . Her text is full of holes in elementary knowledge of history and recent affairs. Majority of comments below made very valid points but she fails to address any of them. In short, pure speculation and ugly propaganda.

danica , 6/11/13 10:32 AM

You can sense the bitterness in the above post. All that energy wasted on hating (living) when you could do something much more useful, like the opposite. Or keep the hateful posts coming so I can learn more about leeches and their caves. It's almost like a National Geographic special.

childishgambino , 6/11/13 10:35 AM

I meant Fedjokovic's post.

childishgambino , 6/11/13 10:36 AM

yes, I stand corrected. I remember young Boris Becker finding himself in some hot water after playing in South Africa.

danica , 6/11/13 10:58 AM

JamesDjokovicFan, 6/11/13 9:40 AM
really? So it is a "fresh air" (ahahah, what a nonsense!) to see Nole making fun of Rafa?! Well, if Nole enjoyed doing that he should have been prepared to live with the same attitude addressed at him. But no, when Roddick made fun of Nole's multiple retirements Nole was not accepting the joke well, reacted foolish when chose to address offensively the crowd in NY...and the rest is history...

Rafa never commented on Nole's impersonations because he is a nice person and only sees good in people but I found Nole's comedy disrespectful and stupid. If it was so well received by the public how come Nole does not do it any more? I'll tell you why: he has grown up and matured as a person to know better than that...obviously you still have a long way to go...and you seem to be the lost case...

natashao , 6/11/13 11:04 AM

your writing is nice but watch when some posters start proving you wrong regarding Nole's applauding great shots of his opponents. Their reasoning is that he is patronizing the other player and thus showing his disrespect. I know, sounds completely crazy.
danica, 6/10/13 10:03 PM

in the fifth set of the RG semis Rafa made some beautiful fact I haven't seen him hit so many great shots for a while, it was amazing to watch...however, I did not see Nole applauding at them...fair enough because Nole seemed rather surprised that Rafa would have it in him to fight at all after his lead of 2:0...anyway, I find it perfectly human that Nole failed to applaud and I don't judge him...but it only proves my point that Nole applauds when he is ahead and when he is comfortable winning...not that I want to drag about it again, but you mentioned it so I am just saying...

natashao , 6/11/13 11:36 AM

how can you say that Nole didn't bring a breath of fresh air to tennis? He was so different and unique. From time to time, such characters are wonderful - think of Connors, McEnroe, Safin... What Nole did cannot compare to what Roddick said. Nole's personifications were not meant to insult but were good natured and fun in a manner of best stand up comedians (who, btw, impersonate Nole). Roddick, on the other side, didn't even try to be funny, he was downright insulting. It was his undoing in the match, you know very well what "inat" can do :).

Both Rafa and Roger said that they didn't like to be the objects of Nole's impersonations and he respected that. Maria Sharapova is the only one that had a fun approach to this - she accepted it and laughed on her behalf. I would love to see how others see me and exaggerate my characteristics.

Novak doesn't do these things anymore because they are old stuff. That can be interesting for some time but after a while, people get bored of the same old same old. He still has great sense of humor and I pray he never outgrows it.

danica , 6/11/13 11:44 AM

danica, 6/11/13 11:44 AM

I utterly disagree...his impersonations were such a low taste and I see it that way...I did not say Nole didn't bring a breath of fresh air to TENNIS, I said his imitations can by no means be judged as "fresh air" because I found them disgusting...but that's me...
we will just have to agree to disagree...and I am glad Nole learned from his mistakes and is not doing it any more...why do you think he got nicknamed :the Joker"...:)

natashao , 6/11/13 11:57 AM

I agree to disagree ;).

danica , 6/11/13 12:02 PM

It is sad. Beautiful story and hated commets. shameful people talk crazed animals say this. Novak is good. Never change comics for love. ok. love for Novak. not for this commets! !!

leftarmgonewrong , 6/11/13 12:03 PM

One thing I do admire Nole for is that both him and Rafa would concede a bad call even if they could get away with it, when their backs are up against the wall. I have yet to see Federer or Murray willing concede a bad call. Neither of them have ever done that.

nadline , 6/11/13 12:04 PM

leftarmgonewrong, 6/11/13 12:03

where do you see the hated comments?! see how blinded you are...we all agree Nole is a fabulous tennis player and we all comment how lucky we are to live in the times of Rafa/Nole/Fed and if people express their opinion on wars and politics (which we all will mostly disagree on) you find it hateful? that is why I said there is no room for the politics/genocide/wars in the TT...

natashao , 6/11/13 12:29 PM

natashao, you disagree is ok. Novak is fresh air for me no to you. argree to disagree ok for us. Novak is #one to me. this is beautiful story. it is good. no talking for war rooms here. I can go. thanks.

leftarmgonewrong , 6/11/13 12:57 PM

leftarmgonewrong/rogerlove/Sienna, welcome back! How was your brief break from TT?

jean , 6/11/13 2:34 PM

Hey JEAN!!


Scrotracker , 6/11/13 5:02 PM

Self parody is the safest and funniest form of stand up comedy. Novak never made fun of himself in his skits, he always made fun of others. It would have been fun to see him exaggerate his own characteristics. Making fun of other people is never funny. Making fun of yourself is.

rafaisthebest , 6/11/13 8:13 PM

There is a difference between people laughing at you and people laughing at what you do. People laugh at nadal's creepy antics [maybe he's making fun of himself, being the HUMBULL that he is] so much that he's the laughing stock of the sporting world.

Nole might be nick-named the joker [Please he was nicknamed joker, because Roger was the "Ace" guru with his superior serving abilities, Rafa was the King of Clay and Nole was the joker - a wildcard who could challenge Roger on the hardcourts as well as Rafa on clay], but the real joker in the sports world is rafa. I doubt if people take him seriously in his own house. He must be that unwanted creepy cousin/nephew that people are nice to, so as to not hurt his/her feelings.

Watching nadal talk or handle himself in public is an insult to all the glorious things human intelligence has achieved. Absolutely uncivilised and barbaric. Lots of sportsmen/woman don't have formal education, but nadal shows you all that can go wrong when men/woman grow up without any formal education. What use is fame or money when you can barely comport yourself like an adult?

Rafa is well-trained by Uncle Toni to play tennis, but unfortunately he is very uneducated and Toni's training did nothing to improve that. Novak is a great tennis player but also a grown-up adult who can handle himself and not hide behind an uncle all the time.

novakisthebest , 6/12/13 10:30 AM

^^^Hahaha! It was so nice watching the uncivilized, barbaric, uneducated Rafa end the annual quest to be RG Champion of a certain gentleman who has a class-less troll like you for a fan!

Oh wait, that was a strategic loss, no? Your boy was saving himself for RG2014. Yes, that's what civilized, educated people do, they plan ahead!

Yeah, right........

rafaisthebest , 6/12/13 10:51 AM

I am in a good mood today, let me indulge you.......

Instead of laughing at what other people do, let Novak laugh at what he does then his comic skills may be more appreciated I am sure. A send up of how civiled and educated he is, now THAT would be funny......

rafaisthebest , 6/12/13 11:02 AM

novakisthebest, 6/12/13 10:30 AM

huh...this is alarming...bitterness and hate combined make a serious issue for this poor soul...Did you watch GSM when Serena was asked to comment about the semis and who she thought would win...she replied that she simply loves Rafa, but could not predict the outcome...

EVERYBODY loves Rafa! He is the role model and the true ambassador of the lonely delusional creatures will just have to learn to live with it...bashing Rafa ain't gonna help...some therapy may work, no? Have you been getting any sleep lately? Dreaming about Uncle T. and his success as a trainer must be tough when you are full of hatred...

natashao , 6/12/13 11:11 AM

natashao - Whom are you trying to reason with ? The likes of Fedkovic23,novakisthebest,JamesDjokovicFan - same person with 3 ids and each id talking to the other because no one else talks to them :-)

sanju , 6/12/13 1:14 PM

Yeah Nole and his team are so classy and comport themselves like educated adults. Who danced semi nude on top of a car? Who said the king is dead, long live the king? Must be Rafa and Uncle T, right?

holdserve , 6/13/13 6:08 AM

Who talked dirty to the crowd in Madrid? Who pretended he did not know the rule about running into the net? Must be Rafa and Uncle T. Can't be Nole. He is too classy, right?

holdserve , 6/13/13 6:11 AM

"What use is fame or money when you can barely comport yourself like an adult?"

+1 It is great to achieve success in a sport, but there is something to be said for people who know the history of the sport and can talk about it like fans do. It is obvious rafa falls in that category of atheltest who have no knowledge of the sport they play in or any other fault.

It is hard to believe anyone with a sense of tennis history will tailor their game around a slam that is 3rd most important in our sport. It doesn't take rocket science to figure out that the dominant tennis players of the past 2 decades before 2000s, Borg in 80s or Pete in 90s dominated Wimbledon. Pete had 0 french opens and he is still considered greater than borg by most tennis experts.

The 2000s definitely belongs to Federer with 6 Wimbledons and 15 slams during the decade. Now that is a player with a knowledge of history!

Fedkovic23 , 6/13/13 10:26 PM

Weak era.

Conspirator , 6/13/13 10:52 PM


rafaisthebest , 6/13/13 11:17 PM

RITB, why hasn't fed been able to beat Rafa on any slam surface since Rafa was just 21.

0-5 since. 0-2 clay. 0-1 grass. 0-2 hc.


Conspirator , 6/13/13 11:31 PM

^^Because he has been busy rehearsing for the lead role in Fedkovic 5-0!

Rafa/Fed Slam H2H 5-0
Rafa/Nole RG H2H 5-0

#Hawaii 5-0

rafaisthebest , 6/13/13 11:42 PM

All Slams are equally important.
Sampras is considered better than Borg because he has more slam titles that him.
Fed is considered better than Sampras as he has more slam titles.
In 2 years' time, Nadal will be considered better than Federer and the greatest player ever to pick up a tennis racket as he will have more slams titles than anyone else.

NadalistheGOAT , 6/14/13 11:59 AM

In 2 years time Nadal will be playing golf in Mallorca with Juan Monaco!

Twinge , 6/14/13 12:12 PM

This thread is meant to be about Novaks coach but has instead degraded into an appalling Nadaltard's group mastu****ion fest!
Please show a little decorum @ least for Cheryl's lovely little write up.

Twinge , 6/14/13 12:45 PM

^^^ Lol

sabs , 6/14/13 1:14 PM

Sorry to say nadline is right about there being two types of tennis fan.

Twinge seems obsessed with Nole beating Rafa at the FO and Rafa's early retirement.


Conspirator , 6/14/13 2:36 PM

I've never seen so many people so invested in seeing Rafa lose as there have been this year. It's downright comical. The FO was all but Nole's, heck even he thought that. When I read that he said 'he had the edge mentally' against Rafa, I knew he was going to lose. I really wish he wasn't the sort of player that feels the need to proclaim his own greatness but then if he didn't he wouldn't be Novak. Lesson learned perhaps? Probably not.

TuesdayChild , 6/14/13 2:55 PM

I like Nole's bravado. It adds to the mix of personalities in the top 4. But I agree, he didn't do himself any favours for sure.


Conspirator , 6/14/13 2:59 PM

`Twinge seems obsessed with Nole beating Rafa at the FO and Rafa's early retirement..`

I'm just not willing to coat all of this wishful thinking in another layer of bulls**t.
I have made it clear i do not care for Nadal, Federer or many of their fans so i feel much less inclined to to go along with something that i do not agree with.
Sorry Conspirator :(

Twinge , 6/14/13 3:40 PM

And I'm certainly not obsessed with Novak beating Rafa at the FO,
I have far more interesting things to be obsessed with actually.
If 5 posts on the matter makes me obsessed then i wont even go into the level of obsession you have for various subjects or a few others here.
Anyway whats done is done.

Twinge , 6/14/13 3:43 PM

I've never seen so many people so invested in seeing Rafa lose as there have been this year. It's downright comical.
TuesdayChild , 6/14/13 2:55 PM

For me, it's reached frightening proportions, tbh. I worry about the impact all the naked resentment has, or will have, on Rafa. I am not talking about fans here, fans are well a little flaky anyway. It's pundits, journos, people who ought to know better, openly rooting against Rafa, that makes me concerned. Federer is going for his 8th Wimby next week, I have not heard anyone, or seen any article on how to beat him on Centre Court. Compare this to the cacophony of opinions, articles on how to beat Rafa on Clay. The glee that greeted Novak's MC win was beyond debauched. And yes, unfortunately may have contributed to Nole taking it for granted that he was going to beat Rafa.

I hope and pray Rafa's health holds up. I really would hate it for these naysayers to "win". I want Rafa to win, thus rubbing their noses into the dust.

rafaisthebest , 6/14/13 4:08 PM

Exactly ritb, Fed himself doesn't bother me - quite the contrary. For me, his tennis is obviously incredible, a joy to watch. As with Nole, I love his contrasting personality compared to the other Fab Four.

It's the federatti (fanbots, fawning media, tournament powers) and all the crap that it brings that I'm concerned with.

Conspirator , 6/14/13 4:20 PM

I am not saying Fed, or Nole or Muzza should get the same level of negativity as Rafa, no. What I wish is Rafa would get the same level of positivity they get! Rafa was going for his 8th RG trophy in 9 tries. Even if Fed wins his 8th Wimby this year, how many tries has it taken him to get there? Why couldn't people be happy for Rafa, that we were witnessing something special, maybe the kind of domination we will never live to see? Not for Rafa, but for us. Why could we not be happy to be witness to such? I do not understand.

And now SI et al are bringing up the GOAT debate. Why? When Rafa himself has said Fed is GOAT? When they have told us ad nauseum that it's Slams that count? We can't count? What possibly can be the motive if not to put Rafa in his place, through the media soap-box?

rafaisthebest , 6/14/13 4:34 PM

Actually, on ESPN's Pardon The Interuption this week, one of the hosts, Tony Kornheiser stated that Rafa has removed Fed from the GOAT debate.

I came to this conclusion after Rafa's amazing return from his lay-off after winning his first hard court tournament back at IW.


Conspirator , 6/14/13 4:41 PM

On the GOAT issue I prefer to keep my powder dry for now and go by what Rafa says i.e. Fed is GOAT.

rafaisthebest , 6/14/13 5:00 PM

appalling Nadaltard's group mastu****ion fest!
Please show a little decorum @ least for Cheryl's lovely little write up.
Twinge, 6/14/13 12:45 PM

another layer of bulls**t.
Twinge, 6/14/13 3:40 PM

"decorum" at its best by The Pot.

jean , 6/14/13 5:10 PM

Who cares who is the GOAT. In fact no one is. Let Rafa focus on winning and thrashing Djokovic.

holdserve , 6/14/13 5:44 PM

@jean 5:10 PM

STILL not managed to get off since our last conversation have you dear.......

Twinge , 6/14/13 6:06 PM

Sorry to say nadline is right about there being two types of tennis fan.

Conspirator , 6/14/13 2:36 PM

I have also come to the same sad conclusion, there are Rafans and anti-Rafans. Now that this has sunk in, I am much calmer, don't feel the need to "defend" Rafa at every turn. The people who hate Rafa are not looking to be persuaded so why bother? And the new mantra? "I don't hate Rafa, its his fans I cannot stand". Yes, I bet they are not racists, some of their friends are Black!

I am proud to be a Rafan. I am proud to be a fan of this remarkable young man. I feel sorry for those who hate him. Hate is a cancer, corrodes the soul. But unlike other cancers, hate is a cancer of choice and as such I have no sympathy for the haters. I hope their hate consumes them. The more they hate Rafa, the more successful he will become, and that can only be a good thing.

Vamos Rafa!

rafaisthebest , 6/15/13 11:46 AM

It's bad enough there are people who feel 'hate' towards any tennis player but the way that destructive emotion is then directed at fans of that player is a total mystery to me.
Sadly we are going through one of those phases with too many troublemakers being allowed to wreck every discussion and bring TT into disrepute.

The difficulty when these outbreaks are not moderated is that by allowing hate-filled comments and obscentities to stand it acts as a magnet to other like-minded people to add to the bile.

?hate isn't healthy, it damages the hater more than the one who's hated!?
? Eric Jerome Dickey, Liar's Game

ed251137 , 6/15/13 12:18 PM

I was going through and came across the following 2 articles from way back, 2007, about Novak Djokovic. They are fascinating and I think anyone who wants to understand present-day Novak needs to read this. One is by Christopher Clarey in the New York Times and the other is by Tom Perrotta in the Sun New York: -break-up-the-reign-of-the-top/55676/

I think these 2 articles offer insights for both Nole fans and those who are not fans.

I found these 2 quotes interesting, both from The New York Times article:

"Other, less overtly confident youngsters might keep the details to themselves, but Djokovic is no diplomat, at least not yet. ?I want the same thing I?ve wanted since I was 7 years old,? he said. ?I want to be No. 1.?

Clearly a young man with a goal, on a mission.

"Like ?Rafa,? Djokovic has a catchy two-syllable nickname, ?Nole? (pronounced NO-lay). At last year?s French Open, he ribbed Nadal by wearing ?Vamos Nole? on his own sneakers. They may meet again this year in Paris, with both in the bottom half of the draw."

Clearly Novak saw Rafa as a rival, from an early age.

Remember, these articles were written in 2007 folks!

Good reading!

rafaisthebest , 6/15/13 12:55 PM

Correct me if I'm wrong but I believe he only rips his shirt off after beating Rafa. Beating Rafa has always been Nole's gold standard


Conspirator , 6/15/13 1:27 PM

He ripped his shirt off after beating Wawrinka at the AO.

tj600 , 6/15/13 1:36 PM

It is clear the way Novak "turns up" for matches against Rafa is different from matches against others. Against Rafa, he shows more focus, more determination and if he wins, he shows more emotion, imo. He psyches himself more before matches against Rafa, just listen to his pre match pressers. It is clear he viewed Rafa as the ultimate challenge way back and this has continued up to now.

As a Rafan I think this shows respect for Rafa's game although his after victory celebrations may imply otherwise. He does not take matches against Rafa for granted and that to me shows respect. He knows if he snoozes, he loses.

rafaisthebest , 6/15/13 1:52 PM

God does idolatry this ever end?
Whenever he top 4 play each other
It's not just about respect etc
They want to win, to not be wide awake will result is tantamount to suicide.
Give it a rest
Rafa is a great player
But he's not the only one...

Twinge , 6/15/13 2:02 PM

Oops pardon moi for the spliced message

Twinge , 6/15/13 2:04 PM

Are you sure Rafa is not the only one Twingey? Gasp!


rafaisthebest , 6/15/13 2:19 PM

Fedal and their fans must be cleansed from this world!
Even the nice ones..
Sorry in advance

Twinge , 6/15/13 2:25 PM

The Fed half of Fedal is now a non-performing asset, needs writing off so your wish may be granted sooner than you think.

rafaisthebest , 6/15/13 2:36 PM

Only half of a wish
And not even that yet

Twinge , 6/15/13 2:42 PM

Well said @ Twinge 2:02pm post on 6/15!

If you let these rafafarts exhibit their stupidity without any restrictions, they will suggest that lave/borg CHOSE tennis over other sports because they had a vision that a spanish, uncle-dominated player will grace [i know it is too nice word for that ugly way he plays] this game 30years down the line and they could bask in that honor.

rafatards have just been downgraded from total douchebags to unadulterated and unmitigated douchebags! may their stupidity be confined to TT and not spread to the outside virtual/real world!

JamesDjokovicFan , 6/16/13 12:29 AM

Who's lickin Twingey's you-know-what nowadays?

phoenix , 6/16/13 5:57 AM

Don't worry @phoenix, Twingey's having a good scrub down as we speak, all the better to wash off the slime residue.........

rafaisthebest , 6/16/13 6:45 AM

Phoenix said exactly what I thought when I read that comment! Trying to recruit our Twingey! Too funny!

Nativenewyorker , 6/16/13 7:24 AM

^^I wouldn't worry about Twingey's fate, inside that hard-man exterior lies a brain, and brains are kryptonite for trolls!

rafaisthebest , 6/16/13 8:32 AM

Time this thread was closed to further comments.

Cheryl paid tribute to a remarkable woman and asked us to understand the background to Djokovics's distress when she died.

End of.

It's neither the place nor the time to air ugly fan arguments. And certainly not when they are couched in vulgar, unseemly language.

ed251137 , 6/16/13 9:43 AM


Good luck with that! Why should this topic thread be any more sacred than any of the others on this site? Without moderation there will always be the usual suspects who will jump in to insult, inflame and use this thread and any other for their own purpose. That is to spread hatred.

Nativenewyorker , 6/16/13 10:22 AM

^^^^^^^Sadly you are right.

But it was worth a try nonetheless.

ed251137 , 6/16/13 12:05 PM


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Nadal makes the cleverest comeback in tennis history

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Novak Djokovic takes up skating at the Madrid ice rink

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And Roger Federer is BACK View all posts

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