Friday, August 16, 2013

Novak Djokovic: What He Said...and What He Meant


Life is pretty good for Novak Djokovic. While his quest to sweep all the Masters tournaments and have a season for the ages ended today with his loss to John Isner, he can still look back and realize he has had quite an amazing run in 2013. But in the immediate aftermath of a tough loss, especially to a player whose game Novak has outclassed in all areas but one, such perspective can be difficult. After the match was over, Djokovic exited the court in warp speed, setting a historic record for "Human being trying to get away from all other life beings the quickest." However with tennis stardom comes obligations, and that includes the perfunctory press conference that occurs when the #1 player in the world loses in the Quarterfinals. Thus Novak had to suffer fools and talk to the media, even though he clearly wasn't interested and would much rather have been anywhere else in the world. He sat down and gave the answers that were required, but it was quite obvious that he was only saying what was necessary and not what he truly believed. While Djokovic is usually one of the most open, honest players on tour, after one loses, the same happy personality usually goes into hiding, replaced by "player speak" that is devoid of any meaning. Thus I decided it was important to not only impart to you, "The Outer Courts" readers, what Djokovic said to the media, but also what I think he actually was thinking in head. Using my telepathic Novak-reading skills, here is a Djokovic "given statement to actual meaning" translation, so you can better understand what was really going through the mind of the world's top player after a disappointing upset:

QUESTION: Novak, obviously a tough match. You had a lot of chances on your serve that you kept fending off all until the last game. Did you notice something different than before? It seemed like he was getting more chances than usual.

ANSWER:  No, I just played a very bad match overall. Terrible match. From beginning to end, except the start of the second set, I was just a different player totally. Today I wasn't able to capitalize on my opportunities and serves. You know, in some important moments some double faults, and that's the way it is.

ACTUAL NOVAK MEANING:  You stupid idiot. Of course it was a tough match....do you think I need you to tell me that? When was the last time you ever did anything that didn't involve trying to scheme the most free food out of the press room and rush the last few words of your article so you could catch the next flight home? What would you know about my serve? Yeah, it wasn't the best but getting analysis on it from you is like Pavarotti getting questioned about the pitch of his voice by the kids in "One Direction." Just stay over there and get the heck away from me before I smack you in the face. I sucked today and that is the way it is.

QUESTION: Was it a mental issue today, Novak, or physical?

Answer: I don't know. All together.

ACTUAL NOVAK MEANING: Are you really asking me if it was a mental issue? Yeah, I mentally came in here hoping to lose...that was my goal. How do you people get paid for this?

QUESTION: Novak, just talk about Isner's serve today and how much trouble it gave you.

Answer: It's tremendous. These conditions here, very fast, and it's very difficult to return. I mean, you can see he didn't give me much second serves in the third set. I don't know what his percentage of the first serves in the third set, but it was extremely high. So he deserved to win.

ACTUAL NOVAK MEANING: The dude is like 6'10". Do you seem him out there? He should be playing against Lebron and Durant, not me. What do you expect me to do when a freaking California Redwood hits the ball 140 miles per hour? So yes, I will "talk about" (by the way, can't you press people ask questions that don't start with 'talk about'? 'Talk about' is not a question it is a statement) his serve. It is dominant and he shouldn't be allowed to be that tall and still play.

QUESTION: Novak, after he beat you at Indian Wells last year he got into the top 10 for the first time, and I think a lot of Americans hoped he would stay there and be a regular top 10 guy. Do you think that still should be something that he's capable of with the kind of tennis he's shown you?

Answer: Well, he was there, so that means he's capable. But one tournament, two tournaments doesn't change anything. He has to be consistent and be successful in order to stay there.

ACTUAL NOVAK MEANING: No, he doesn't deserve to be in the top ten! He is just a top 100 player who is best with the blessed serve in the game because he was born the tennis Manute Bol. Look he won and I am trying to be nice, but he will only be a top 10 player if his return game gets to above a Challenger level. I am trying to be nice so let's just leave at that, ok?

QUESTION: Novak, will this loss affect your preparations for the US Open at all?

Answer: No. I'm going to prepare as best as I can. Of course now I'm disappointed because I really wanted to win. But it's sport; I'll move on.

ACTUAL NOVAK MEANING: Yes, I am just going to pack it in and quit the sport. OH NO! I LOST TO JOHN ISNER...WHAT SHALL I DO?  Why even go to the US Open?  Maybe I should just go back home, grab a guitar and play emo music to ease my pain, because clearly my tennis career is over.

QUESTION: Were you focusing on getting to win all the Masters at all here? Does it make it more disappointing than a normal Masters loss?

Answer: Yeah, it is. It's disappointing that I played this way. For me, it's very disappointing.

ACTUAL NOVAK MEANING: Nope, doesn't bother me at all that I had a chance to become the first person to win every Masters' event and I blew it losing to Mark Eaton. So for me, this is just a jolly good day. I am amazed this group didn't become brain surgeons.

QUESTION: What's next for your schedule after Cincinnati? How many days off and then...

Answer: I'll see. I just came off the court. I really don't know.

ACTUAL NOVAK MEANING: I just got off the court you dolt. I don't have my day planner right in front of me. And why do you need to know anyway? Are we supposed to go shopping at Home Depot this weekend? Who are you my wife? I will do what I want and chances are high I will not inform you. I cannot wait to get away from you people.

And there you have it. As you can see, what Djokovic said was probably slightly different than what he truly meant, but that's the joy of a tennis press conference. The same bored press corps asks the same tired questions and then writes the same "plug in quote" stories, while the players count the seconds until they can leave. That is why there might be a need for a new kind of blog on the tennis scene...just saying.