Novak Djokovic the Dreamer
by Jim Cole
"...in your dreams whatever they may be dream a little dream..."
These lyrics from the 1931 American song Dream a Little Dream of Me (Music by Andre/Schwandt; Lyrics by Kahn), remind me of Novak Djokovic. The song captures the dream-like quality of his recent ascension to the #1 Ranking on the ATP Tour. Novak Djokovic's story is a story of his dreams-come-true. He has reached the top of the mountain again, and this time he wants to stay there awhile.
Djokovic's service game features a flat first serve in the 120-125 mph range that he prefers to take up to the center service line. With the second serve, Djokovic seems to prefer to deliver slices and kicks wide. Djokovic's second serve is a serious weapon. Service games won in the YTD are at 88%. This is a high service game win percentage and mostly the result of his dangerous second serve.
Djokovic's return game is superior by any standard. He makes aggressive use of reliable ground strokes off both sides, particularly the two-handed backhand down the line, to take control of the point with his service returns. Service return games won are at 31% YTD.
Djokovic likes to think of himself as an all-court player. He is not a classic all-court player, though. The truth being he is much more an aggressive baseline player always looking for chances to play like an all-court player. Djokovic is very fit and has powerful, penetrating ground strokes on both sides.
Djokovic's forecourt skills shine brightest on hard courts, sure to be an asset on the hard courts in New York. Djokovic's volley completes a very well balanced game, a game without any obvious weakness. Nick Bollettieri has said "Djokovic is the most complete player of all time." His footwork at the net is economical and highly responsive in reflex volley situations. His racquet control is superior. His volley placements can, sometimes, be a little too whimsical for his own good.
How to play from the baseline
The expression “to endure the rally” is about those indeterminate moments of a rally where none of the players is leading.
The ability to endure the rally is fundamental when you play a “long rally”, because it offers you the chance to measure your opponent’s strong points and vulnerabilities, besides letting you position as best as possible for your next offensive shot.