Beware of the Djoker for he is on the loose.
Run, run fast, run like the wind, escape while you can, before it’s too late. He’s on the rampage, bringing a tonne of mischief with him as he takes a hew to any opposition that dare to stand in the way of his untoward intentions of securing yet another grand slam title.
Already, in 2011, the 6ft 2” extrovert had cut a swath through a bounty of do-gooders attempting to bring a halt to his fiendish ways. That he had introduced a plethora of hitherto unseen weapons has made for a mightily difficult job in arresting his devious methods.
He flattened out his groundstrokes. Gone was the excessive top spin. In its place were shots that had superior pace to them, not bouncing as high, and giving opponents less time to make a return.
Then there was the new gluten free diet that he undertook, which appeared to make him fitter and stronger with an added dose of energy. Nothing quite like a smattering of extra energy to keep at bay all those wishing to rein in the twenty-four year olds wicked form. Turns out he was suffering from celiac disease and can’t eat gluten.
Don’t you just bet his opposition wished the Serbian native hadn’t discovered this?
But he did, and what a year it turned out to be for Novak Djockovic. Three grand slam titles - to add to his victory at the Australian Open in 2008 – and his emergence as the number one ranked player in the world was a certainty. Not surprising, really, with a 70-6 win/loss ratio. Some claimed it was the greatest season by an individual ever seen.
Djockovic didn’t just find deeper reservoirs of physical reserves; he also played with a mental toughness that would be the envy of many. He had found the self-belief needed to consistently dismantle the best players to have competed in the modern era. Rafael Nadal couldn’t get a handle on him, and what was the best way to counteract Djockovic’s new found power. Never before had he encountered an opponent that would pound the ball to such an extent. He admitted as much too.
Andy Murray had even less luck dealing with the talented jokester, going down in three sets at last year’s Australian Open final. And then there was a chap by the name of Federer. Roger Federer, that is. Possibly the greatest of all-time, even the Swiss magician couldn’t pull a rabbit out of the hat in his quest to bring to an end the unmitigated destruction that Djockovic was heaping upon the enemy. Greatest of all-time; by the time the Serb is finished, Federer may not even be the greatest of his era.
Who would have thought?
As tough as teak, the Serb couldn’t be broken when it counted.
It hasn’t always been that way, though. There was a time when Djockovic had a reputation for being a touch on the fragile side. Occasionally thought to have feigned injuries in the past, when losing, and withdrawing unnecessarily, he wasn’t always popular with his peers. Add to this his propensity for doing imitations of other players, and his early days weren’t all plain sailing.
It can’t be easy growing up in front of millions of people, many of whom are more than content to bring the famous down, no matter what. He survived though, and forged ahead.
True champions find the humility within to realise what is required of them as they make the necessary adjustments in search of their true potential.
And that humility often comes as maturity arrives in their sphere of being.
It sure did with Djockovic. By 2010 the imitations had disappeared, and in its place was a man that was becoming a class act.
Maturity can’t be imitated.
Now acclaimed as the best in the world, Djockovic carries that mantle with aplomb. Nothing seems to faze him, and, as is usually the way, the more success he attains the more confident he becomes.
This is good for him. Not so good for his opposition though.