Wimbledon 2015: Don’t cross Novak Djokovic – or you’ll have his dad to answer to

The Wimbledon Diaries

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The Independent Online

A supportive father is something everybody wishes to have. But sometimes even the best of them can take matters too far. Srdjan Djokovic is known to be not just the proud father of the defending champion Novak Djokovic but a proud Serbian too, and his nationalism is most often on show through the prism of his son’s exceptional tennis. 

When Serbian commentators take to the air these days, they are careful to say nothing that might invoke rage in Srdjan, who once left the comfort of his armchair and drove himself at high speed to the Belgrade studios of Serbian broadcasters to reprimand them for not being more supportive of his son during a tough match against Rafael Nadal. I’m told it all got rather heated.

Meanwhile spare a kind thought for Djokovic’s coach Boris Becker who tells me his tennis-playing days are probably over. The left ankle he injured in his teens and reinjured since have left him with a limp and an increasing weight problem due to the lack of exercise.

His role with Novak is no longer about trading backhands on the practice court, but more about talking tactics and mental preparedness. One veteran who is already feeling his absence is Pat Cash, who would often play recreational tennis with Becker at the All England Club.

 

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As for Roger Federer, the man Novak faces in today’s men’s final, he continues to prove himself a class act wherever he goes. Take his relations with the Nadal family. Even though Rafa has deprived Roger of many Grand Slam titles, including an eighth Wimbledon, Federer greets Nadal’s mother and sister as if they are one of his own and always with kisses on each cheek. His stunning performances are only matched by his solid silver spoon manners off.

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Victoria Azarenka, a former World No 1, is well known for her hard work and ambition to climb back up the rankings. As she says, “There isn’t anything I would not do to win Wimbledon and become No 1 again…” She started her preparations early this year by reshuffling her team.  One change, that cannot have been easy, was to part company with her experienced coach Sam Sumyk (now with Eugenie Bouchard) but retain her talented and likeable agent known as Meilen Tu. But when Tu is back home, she goes by another name. She is also Mrs Sam Sumyk.

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There have been plenty of theories over the Wimbledon fortnight as to how to manage the volatile but talented Australian Nick Kyrgios, who can go from refusing to play one minute to hugging a ball boy the next.

I can report that help is on its way. Kyrgios’ mother Nill is writing a book on how to be a tennis parent. Quite what she will disclose about Nick is not yet known. However, everyone is hoping it will provide some answers on how to cope with this extraordinarily extrovert character who is widely tipped to go all the way.

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Who would want to throw an interpreter over the roof for coming to your aid?  This is seemingly what nearly happened when one was asked to assist Nadal during one of his TV interviews.

The former World No 1 took exception to the idea that he needed any interpretation by pushing the interpreter to one side and nearly over the top of the roof of the All England Club.

Later I asked what she thought of his behaviour. She took delight in saying: “I am still here and he is not.” Game, set and match to the interpreter, I think.

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Every year there’s a player who wins the heart of the umpires and ballboys and girls. The charmer this year is the Colombian Santiago Giraldo who is known for his impeccable manners.

I can report that this has not gone unnoticed further afield. The London-based model agency Nevs is hoping to sign him up as a model. “If more of the players had his manners I would be interested in them too,” said Paul Cavalier, a director of Nevs. “You have to be marketable when you are not playing the game.”

It seems that the affectionately named “Santi” has it all.

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