Nole! Nole! Nole!

20 Apr

Novak Djokovic beat Alexander Dolgopolov at the Monte Carlo Masters on Thursday, just hours after finding out his beloved grandfather had died.  After almost succumbing at first to the shock and grief, he rallied and emerged victorious, advancing to the quarterfinals.  Then, walking off the court, he broke into tears, unable to speak to interviewers.

From the Telegraph:

“The opening set was almost uncomfortable to watch, for Djokovic was so far from being himself. Normally a superb judge of attacking options, he came out swiping at the ball as if blaming it for what had just happened.

A couple of enormous forehands were winners, but plenty more flew long, and Dolgopolov had the first set 6-2.

That seemed to do the trick for Djokovic’s concentration. The fog cleared from his eyes and he romped through the second set 6-1.”

Then he beat Robin Haase today to advance to the semifinals.

Here’s a “60 Minutes” interview with him from March with some footage of him with his grandfather, among other things.  His relationship to his childhood trainer is particularly sweet (he calls her “kardia mou/kalbim/my heart” as he’s walking through the gate in the final scene):

I wonder if he would’ve agreed to the interview though, if he had known beforehand of the segment’s condescending voice-over comments about Serbia and the lame questions that would be posed to him.  In any event, Djokovic answers with a smiling turning of the tables, taking — maybe unconsciously — Simon’s attempt to have a twenty-four-year-old tennis star answer the segment’s stupid implications of Serbian guilt and turning it into a statement on Serbian toughness.  No Bob Simon, Roger Federer doesn’t constantly carry the heavy burden of making Switzerland feel good about itself, its role as an international center of money-laundering and secret banker to world dictators, its racist immigration and asylum policies, and its cushy, amoral “neutrality” because, despite all that, the Swiss seem to feel just fine about themselves and Switzerland isn’t villainized constantly and internationally pariah-fied like Serbia still is.  It’s i-n-f-u-r-i-a-t-i-n-g how current and accepted these simplistic, patronizing interpretations of the Yugoslav wars of the 90’s still are twenty years later.

But blow all that and enjoy Nole’s incorrigible Serbian swagger.  It’s such a refreshing difference from the mincing p.c. humility you’d probably get out of so many other men in his place and in our time, or out of some American athlete who’d be talking about “God” and his family.

Watch a  strong young man flush with pride in himself and his deeds.

‘Cause too many someones, somewhere, probably think he’s “a little inappropriate.”

Vjecnaja pamjat for Novak’s much loved grandfather and always onto bigger and greater victories for him.  Your fans are always beside you.

P.S. he beat Berdych today (Saturday) and goes to the final against Nadal tomorrow!


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