who wears the cranky pants in the atp family?

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(Editor: Michael wrote this before unseeded Gael Monfils defeated fifth seed David Ferrer in the quarters.)

Nole, in adidas, defeats Latvian Ernest Gulbis in the French Open quarterfinals 7-5, 7-6 (3), 7-5.

We’re halfway through the quarters and, alas, there are no major surprise survivors left. So that tends to leave us to focus on the known quantities and how they’re shaking down, or out, or something along those lines.

Novak Djokovic (that’s JOCK-ovich, thankyouverymuch), along with showing off his solid and semi-dominant play, has also been demonstrating a fair portion of on-court arrogance: you’ve got the looks of frustration, of disbelief, and of downright annoyance that the lesser opponent across the net has actually won the point, one that was so rightfully his. You may have noticed that Tennis Channel has introduced a new feature in their coverage this year: the slow-motion reaction shot. I don’t believe ESPN2’s got it. We get to see any emotional/competitive bent that’s emanating from a given player after they’ve just won or (mostly) lost a point — every smirk, every scowl, every eye roll. And Djokovic seems to have the full arsenal, as wide a variety as his game itself.

Look, I too fell in love with the Jocker (the nickname still works!), both through his personality and his brilliant imitations; loved those verite shots of him hamming it up for a player in the locker room at the U.S. Open. But his on-court persona has gotten a long, long way from the off-the-court guy. (That said, if you happened to catch Bill Macatee’s interview with him, you might have seen a bit more cockiness than you would have liked.) Maybe with his rapid ascension, it’s just a matter of the maturity catching up. In any case, you may be able to guess who I’ll be rooting for come semifinal #1.

Michael Shaw writes about tennis and other subjects for the Los Angeles Times and is also an artist. He can be reached at michaelshaw_sar AT yahoo DOT com. Read his previous posts for TSF here.

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7 Responses to “who wears the cranky pants in the atp family?”

  1. butter Says:

    You know I’m loyal to Rafa when it comes to clay! RAFA ALL THE WAY.
    I didn’t get to see Djokovic’s after match interview. I’m scared to find out what he said though, cos I’m afraid I might really dislike him after. :-(

  2. Joshua Says:

    Djokovic has always been arrogant — as Johnny Mac put it, “you have to be arrogant.” Still, if you compare his behavior to, say, Federer’s pissy pouting act against Tipsarevic at the Australian or Nadal’s winking at Ivanovic when she announced the draw putting Djokovic in Nadal’s half, I don’t really think there’s any reason to be particularly hard on him. And against Gulbis, his annoyance was with the weather more than anything. He and Ernests get along very well, and had several very sweet smiley moments together. And Djokovic saying in the press conference that he and Ernests had some “crazy experiences” off the court while training at the Pilic Academy and then responding to the question “Can you tell us about them?” With a merry “No,” that was an endearing moment.

    As for his name, it’s actually back to JOKE-ovic already, at least for most of the commentators and Dick Enberg said that Djokovic himself told them to say JOKE not JOCK, so I’m still not sure where the JOCK-ovic thing came from.

    Though, I suppose if Jankovic can stand Gimelstob pronouncing both of her names with an English “j” then Djokovic can handle whatever pronunciation anyone comes up with for his name.

  3. John Says:

    It’s just a lie saying that Novak’s been pissy on court cause of his opponents playing well. He’s one of the few players to actually applaud when his opponent hits a good shot, if he overreacts it’s only been from getting angry at his poor play at times. Who wouldn’t have been angry when he squandered so many break chances against ernests in the first set of their match. But everyone’s just looking for reasons to hate on him, just cause he’s one of the few who outwardly shows his confidence. Give me a break and leave Novak alone. kthnx

  4. christy Says:

    I am going to have to agree with Michael..and I -still- am a huge Nole-phile. But lately, specially at RG, he is almost unrecognizable to me. What is happening to the charming, entertaining and refreshingly candid guy that won the heart of NY and millions around the world at the US Open? Little by little he seems to be withering away and taken over by this arrogant jerk instead. What’s with all that stupid focus on how his last name is pronounced? BFD!!! Get over yourself Novak!
    He might think that it’s not a big deal to loose hordes of fans with his increasingly prima-dona antics..but he’s actually loosing himself. Since he is so self-absorbed, maybe that part will get his attention.

  5. keyk Says:

    my thoughts EXACTLY!

    i never really root for nadal. but nowadays, i do.
    when he plays djokovic, that is..

    aaaaarghh. i WAS a fan. and now i HATE djokovic and the way success has got into his head..
    and how he tries so hard to be funny! as if it’s all planned out and calculated..
    and how his family looks like a mafia and how his success got into their heads waaaaaaaaaaay more..
    and a hundred more other reasons.. *sigh*

    and ooooh.. nadal winks at ivanovic? that could be..you know.. for other reasons.lol.

  6. laura Says:

    sigh..can’t help it, though I see the point about Nole’s rapid ascent to the top making him overly arrogant…I still think that he’s the answer to what tennis needs as far as exposure -for whatever good and/or bad reasons there might be. Don’t want to justify him, but this article my redeem him a little. Ther’s a lot of the same ‘ol crap that’s been said over & over, but there are some really touching -and (as usual) brutaly frank quotes from this unique character (i.e.: ‘I believe that, like art, you play harder on an empty stomach. Full stomachs don’t make champions.’)

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/arts/main.jhtml?xml=/arts/2008/05/31/sm_novakdjokovic31.xml

    still love u Nole!!

  7. Emily Says:

    It time to ask the Serbs how to pronounce his name.

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