Written by Senior Tennis Editor Peter Gehr
Is Novak Djokovic the new king of men’s singles tennis? Being ranked No. 1 in ATP ranking and taking the 2011 season by storm, with promises that 2012 we also be devoured by the Serb, does not seem to be enough for tennis fans. With the brilliance and talent he displays in his dominating tennis style, the 24 year old is a force to be reckoned with. Despite his recent loss to Andy Murray at the Dubai Championships, Djokovic has designs on continuing his conquest in men’s tennis.
That said, it’s a curious thing as to why he is yet to reach the popularity heights of the likes of Roger Federer or Rafael Nadal. Is it because he is new, and we are all used to seeing the regular rivals slugging it out with each other over the past 5 years, or is it a personality thing? I’m not going to pass judgment on the quirks of Djokovic, but I do wonder if that is the sole reason for his current fan count?
Is Novak Djokovic the New King of Men’s Singles Tennis?
No. 1 ranked Novak Djokovic is the king of tennis, but not everyone is happy about it. His unique brand of personality and style is a revolution that invites both admiration and antipathy.
Djokovic’s polarizing appeal runs deeper than commonly cited annoyances.
After his 2012 Australian Open victory over Rafael Nadal, Djokovic reacted like Bruce Banner, tearing off his shirt and becoming the Incredible Hulk.
But sports fans have always rallied around controversial champions, and Djokovic is a spectacular winner in the midst of an historic run. So why does a sizable legion of tennis fans refuse to embrace this rising superstar?
It’s not that Djokovic lacks personality. To many tennis fans, his mannerisms are too emotional, slightly awkward and overly brash.
Djokovic has arrived to take over tennis. He proved his fierce desire to be a champion with last month’s Aussie win over Nadal. This was especially disconcerting to Nadal fans, who have touted Nadal as the greatest fighter in tennis history.
After the match, Djokovic said, “I think it was just the matter of maybe luck in some moments and matter of wanting this more than maybe other player in the certain point.”
While the remark is merely a proud statement of self-adulation, it could also imply (to Nadal fans) that Nadal didn’t want it as bad. Djokovic could have been more diplomatic if his second comment were added as “we both wanted it so very much.”
Great success also produces character changes. Djokovic seems to be maturing with his tennis. He is less likely to abuse his racket and more likely to channel setbacks into greater concentration.
Djokovic wins with a demoralizing style of tennis. He is one of the toughest defensive players ever, forcing his opponents to play more impatiently, hit harder and take more risks to control a point. His aggressive precision has foiled Nadal’s slower, loopier forehand.
In the Aussie final, Nadal realized late in his desperate fourth set that he had no choice but to unleash harder, flatter forehands for some key winners.
Furthermore, Djokovic handles bullet serves and spits back forehand winners. Most of all, he seems to relish his counterattacks, turning them into a barrage of offensive bombs.
Djokovic is an awesome player. He is winning Grand Slam tournaments, and is the hottest player on tour. For many fans, their dislike for Djokovic is not really a dislike of Djokovic the person, but is really their dislike of his success.
Every moment in a player’s career is an ever-shifting legacy. The day-to-day pronouncements can be maddening, and it creates more vitriol from fans towards players.
For all the historic successes of Federer and Nadal, their legacy portraits are now being altered by Djokovic. Every Grand Slam tournament trophy by Djokovic is one less for Federer or Nadal. It’s also one more player to share historic accolades. (Original story here)
Is Novak Djokovic the new king of men’s singles tennis? Not all kings are popular, and although the Djoker tries to please the crowd with antics, you would think it would be enough for him to be No. 1 in the rankings and defeating every rival he encounters, but it simply is not enough to change the affections that tennis fans have with Federer and Nadal.