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Novak Djokovic: The Victorious Dreamer

Novak Djokovic: The Victorious Dreamer

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by Jim Cole

Novak Djokovic the Dreamer by Jim Cole

" 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 Technique

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. Novak the showman The Intangible. Djokovic is a natural showman and is known as a great joker on Tour.

Like the great showmen that came before him (Riggs, Nastase, Connors, McEnroe), his antics on the tennis court can leave you with the thought that more than one individual has taken up residence inside his head. Djokovic's acting credentials go beyond the lines on a tennis court.

In 2011 he was cast in a cameo role in Sylvester Stallone's Expendables 2 movie. His scene, which involved him attacking terrorists with his racquet, was cut. The first time he played tennis Novak Djokovic (AKA: Nole), 27, was introduced to tennis at 4 years of age and turned pro at age of 16.

By the time he was 19 years old he was ranked #63 on The ATP World Tour. The year was 2006 and the Djokovic Camp and British Lawn Tennis Camp were spending April and May in serious negotiations. The topic was the expatriation of the young Serbian star.

At the time Djokovic tried to quiet the rumors by saying the talks "...were not serious". This must have come as a big surprise to the
British because they were very serious, indeed.

The British had Murray and they knew Murray was all they would have for the foreseeable future. The British solution was to shop, to buy rather than build. The British were absolutely desperate for a player with the potential to become a great champion.

At the end of negotiations, Djokovic remained Serbian. Novak had turned down a lot, but by then he was making enough money on Tour to pay expenses. Ironically, Murray did go on to win Wimbledon in 2013 and establish a career win/loss record of 12-8 over Djokovic.

Djokovic's Records and Results When Djokovic was 7 years old he was asked what he intended to accomplish in tennis. Like any young person, he said "The goal for me is to be #1." The difference between the young Djokovic and about a million other young kids is the fact that he, Nole, wasn't kidding.

He was dreaming and there is a difference. He realized his childhood dream in July, 2011, when he became the #1 player on the ATP Tour. 2011 was a magical year for Djokovic. Even better than he dared to dream. He won 3 Grand Slam Events that year: The Australian Open, Wimbledon, and The US Open.

The only thing standing between him and 4 Grand Slam titles in the same year was Roger Federer. The only defeat faced by Novak in a Slam that year came against Roger Federer in the semifinals of the French Open.

Many believe that if the Serb was to advance to the final, he would have managed to beat Nadal, as he already did few weeks before in Rome and Madrid. In awe of Djokovic's play in 2011, Nadal defined it as "...probably the highest level of play I have ever seen."
Novak Djokovic currently has seven Grand Slam titles on his resume: 4 Australian titles, 2 Wimbledon Championships, and 1 US Open title.

Since turning pro in 2003, Djokovic has won 45 ATP Tour titles, including the Grand Slams. His career singles record is 508-136, with a prize money total of $65,332,655. While there are no obvious technical weaknesses in Djokovic's game, he does have an earned reputation as prone to injury and retirement (During an injury delay in one match, Andy Roddick famously asked Djokovic "What now? Shoulder, knee, hip? No? Mad Cow disease, right?").

Djokovic is also known for strategic over use of courtside trainers. Djokovic's relationships with other top players can be a bit cool. For example, his on-court impersonations of Federer and Nadal are not always appreciated by their targets.

Djokovic can also rub the wrong way with his observations. Like in 2013, just before Wimbledon, he suggested Federer was getting old, "he is moving maybe slower than he used to..." Djokovic observed.

Make what you will of the criticisms and his short-comings, both real and imagined. Novak Djokovic has done well for himself. He has come a long way from the early days in Belgrade, where he hit balls against a wall near his elementary school, to the top of the mountain and a fairy-tale life in Monte Carlo.

His true life story is so compelling a movie of his story is currently in production (Let us all share the hope he refrains from attacking terrorists with his racquet in this movie venture). The Run Up to the 2014 US Open in New York Nadal and Djokovic are on a collision course toward The Finals of The US Open in New York City in September.

Nadal and Djokovic have faced each other 42 times. An Open Era Tour record for the meeting of 2 players. Nadal holds a 23-19 win/loss record over Djokovic. Djokovic believes he has found the answer to the Nadal riddle: "That mental edge, that's something you can't get in the gym.

You have to be able to play and understand who you are, get really deep into your character" Djokovic has said. Whether Djokovic believes he can sort out the characters at work in his head, or believes he belongs in the Finals of The US Open, it doesn't matter.

Djokovic has won The US Open once and he is dreaming a little dream about winning a 2nd US Open in September in New York.

After Nadal’s right wrist injury, Novak’s chances of winning the Open once again have rised higher than ever before.

As long as Roger Federer doesn’t feel in the mood to rain on Nole’s parade, yet again…, Nov, 2011
Mail Online, Nov, 2013
Bleacher Report
ATP World
"Dream a Little Dream of Me," Kahn, 1931 .

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