Temper, Temper, Novak Djokovic
“Use one of your credit cards, Novak!” I shout from my semi-comatose position on the couch. I just witnessed a tennis player’s breakdown that’s going to cost him money, maybe lots of it. Novak Djokovic missed a tiny little lob over the net and smashed his racquet into the court surface in rage. The racquet, of course, folded and close-up shots from the TV cameras showed possible ridges in the court surface.
This is Gonna Cost!
Whatever happens, this little display of temper is going to cost you, Novak. Probable fine from the APT tennis organization will be in the region of $10,000, wasted racket – $200, repairs to courts surface – a whole debate. The Shanghai Club may decide to lay a complete new surface, because the surfacing contractor will no doubt tell them that it is impossible to ‘patch’ a court surface… “We will never get it perfectly smooth.” If you are really unlucky, they may decide to resurface all the courts in the club so the colors match. As far as the racquet is concerned, one of your credit cards will look after all the messy details.
The Money Angle
This year is the first that Shanghai joins eight other cities in hosting an ATP World Tour Masters 1000 event, the new top tier of tournaments on the ATP World Tour. It is also the finale to the three-week Asian swing of the ATP World Tour. The prize money is over five million dollars. Wow, Novak, you couldn’t have picked a worse place for your demonstration. Over a billion Chinese will remember you.
We may be highly critical of your actions and your uncontrollable desire to smash something, but inside we do understand. The court surface was a better choice than your opponent, Gilles Simon, or the umpire or even some stray character out of the audience. But the media is going to dine out for weeks on this event. All sportsmen and others who are trained to such a high pitch snap easily. My grandson, aged nine, lost a swimming race by a touch last week and he’s inconsolable, mentally kicking himself for taking too long on a turn. He hasn’t smashed anything in rage, but I’m sure he will learn as he gets older.
It’s all about ambition, the desire to win, to excel, to never be second. Every time we are on the way to the swimming pool, grandson reminds me that his ‘dream’ is to swim in some future Olympic Games. I hope he makes it. Then he says, “What was your dream when you were my age, Pop?” It’s difficult to explain that I wanted to be a tail-gunner in a Liberator bomber. Luckily, I was too young to achieve my dream.
The Novak Djokovic Dream
Novak has achieved his. At age 24, he will be elevated to the world’s number three ranking in a week’s time, something very few people manage to do. He has already won about 14 million dollars playing tennis, so he walks with a wallet full of unlimited credit cards. The racquet-slamming incident was not money linked, just an outward sign of sportsman’s total frustration.