Sunday, March 15, 2009

’A Troubled Individual’

That's what world news feed commentator Doug Adler just called Novak Djokovic during his second round match against Martin Vassallo Arguello.

And that was only the beginning.

I'm not recording the match, so I won't be able to get more direct quotes later. But Adler used that exact description -- “a troubled individual” -- before going on to say Djoke was now too hard to cheer for, that he needed to change his behavior because it's affecting his game, that he acts like it's he and his parents against the world.

My jaw dropped.

Not because I think Adler has no point, but because I've never heard a commentator utter such a blunt judgment about a player, much less a top player, from the commentary box before.

Robbie Koenig seemed startled. After a pregnant pause, he reminded his co-host that it's all about the tennis.

It's been a decidedly quiet broadcast since.


Karen said...

oh my goodness, I did not hear that. I had actually switched from the match to watch Zack & Mirrin make a porno, but too much crass language. I have tried on so many occassions to be a fan of this fellow or to see what he brings to the game, but all I see is someone who hits the ball really hard and that is it. If there are fans out there who know his game I am willing to listen to what you have to say about him, but Doug is right, it is very hard to cheer for him and he does act as if it is him against the world. Every single player on tour (male and female) have people against them, even Roger and Rafa (including commentators) he just has to realise that he has to answer with his tennis and nothing else.

Wouter said...

Well it is obvious that djokovic did some strange stuff in the past, but as a journalist you can't say that on television. That is really unprofessional.
Djokovic has done a lot for (serbian) tennis (in a good or a bad way)and that should be respected. People come for him to the stadion and that is what counts. It reminds me about some other guys who where hated by the other players and refs and some other people....

Maybe McEnroe and Connors ring a bell? And roddick does not always behave as well, but is a fantastic sportsman

oddman said...

Whatever Nole's problems might be, I do think commentators have to be very careful in what they reveal about the players, and moreso, their own personal feelings about players, whilst calling a match.

If he (Adler) wants to discuss or write about this, perhaps, fine, but during a match?

There is SO much info out there about everyone these days, the internet and all the blogs and messageboards passing along 'up to the minute' gossip and stories - where do you draw the line as a commentator? Blurry, no?

lynney62 said...

Adler is way off the mark to say this during commentary.....shame. This is why I'm so often tempted to push the "mute" button during matches.

vince said...

If you had to hit the mute button every time a commentator actually put his balls on the table and said something with a bit of substance you wouldn't be muting very often.

Good on Adler... a bit of controversy is all good.

Pamela said...

Wow, and I missed it?

Argh! I'm shocked. Of course, it is no secret I don't care for Djokovic in the slightest, but I do think there should be boundaries when commentating on a match.

They are there to provide insight into the game and colorful tidbits that may interest the casual fan, but they shouldn't say things like that has a tone of bias.

Djokovic deserves the respect because he IS a top player on the tour. That beating his chest towards his camp always smacks of "I'll show these people" instead of "yes! I can win this match!" You know what I mean?

Him against the world indeed.

Salmon said...

Objectionable, but I love it. When commentators show opinions is when they're at their best, and it's totally not uncommon in team sports.

Craig, is there any way you can change your settings so the whole posts show up in RSS feeds instead of just the first 100 words? I'd much appreciate it.

Craig Hickman said...

Salmon, I'll try.

charags said...

Ummmm... Djoker did seem much muted in this match. He even applauded (acknowledged) when Arguello scored a winner.

Helen W said...

charags Djoker often applauds the good shots of his opponent. That's one of the things that I like about him. Jmaes Blake & Andy Roddick are two other players who do the same.

HoiHa said...

OK - I must be one of the few who actually likes Djoko. I think he gets a lot of unfair criticism to be honest but I do confess that his retirement at the AO stretched the boundaries of my fandom quite a bit. It has been reported on and off that he suffers from asthma and underdeveloped lungs due to developmental problems with his thorax - if that is the case it might go some way to explaining these retirements.

In terms of his game - go back and take a look at last year's AO - his game was splendid and ball bashing was the least of it. He set up points and was able to paint lines better than I had seen someone do in a long time ...

And then his game began to stumble ... his early loss at Wimbledon last year did his mind in and he played horribly through the rest of the year.

This year I am starting to see some glimpses of his old form. I am keeping my fingers crossed because I actually think, when playing well, he is a far superior player to Murray with far greater potential. But I suppose that remains to be seen.

In terms of sportsmanship, there are very few players who can compare to Djoko here - he always applauds the good play of his competitor and I have seen him - like Roddick - cede a point to an opponent when he agrees it's a bad call. Andy and Novak are the only 2 players in the mens' game that I know who do this.

I don't see his heart pounding as anything other than trying to get his confidence going which is, IMHO, his achiles heel ... he needs to grow out of this - but don't forget he is actually younger than Murray.

I would love to see him change coaches because I think he needs someone to build his confidence up more than Vajda seems to be able to do ... Novak has all the shots - just needs to fix the head.

MMT said...

I don't think there's anything wrong with the commentator stating the obvious - that Djokovic has turned off a lot of people with his chest thumping and angry stares coupled with easy retirements. It's his bed, and now he has to sleep in it.

As for his game, I think he's a lot more than a ball basher, although that is his strength. He has a good serve, good touch on his drop shots (although he seems to over use it sometimes) and he is a marginal volleyer, which is a hell of a lot more than you can say for 9 out of 10 players on tour.

He'll never be a serve and volleyer, but he's singles game would be helped a great deal by playing doubles. It will improve his second serve, which is shaky, and his volleys.

And he does often applaud his opponents, moreso than anyone on tour. He does get a bad rap, but if he wants to restore his popularity (don't really know why'd he care to) his parents' continue absence from the limelight will help. If he can just couple it with a little less angry self-congratulatory histrionics, he'll be a big hit.

It would also help if he won another slam!

Craig Hickman said...

I just looked at the Top 10 to check the volley skills. I think you're being a little harsh on the fellas, MMT.

Koyla, Roddick, del Potro, Verdasco are about the only ones who need a lot of luck to land a good volley on a consistent basis, but even with them, I've been shocked a few times by a few of the volleys I've seen them pull off.

Monfils and Simon don't bother coming forward much, but they can volley.

As for transition games, I think Rafa has improved his so much I'd now judge his as the best of this bunch.

MMT said...

That's the purist in me, Craig. I want to see guys volley like they did 20 years ago, when they KNEW they had to. Just saw an old PEPSI Grand Slam of Tennis match on TTC between Borg and Brian Gottfried, and while Borg's volley's were never great, they were serviceable, but Gottfried really volleyed well. Great game he had.

Nadal's volleys are underrated - he finishes off points better from the net than probably anyone. Although Federer's net game is a little more classical, he does tend to guess on volleys and get passed little more easily than you'd expect.

Maybe 8 out of 10!

Craig Hickman said...

And then there's Taylor Dent, who has the best transition game and volleys in all of tennis right now.

Too bad he can't stay fit and uninjured.

Beth said...

No kidding Craig! I have not seen many Dent matches for obvious reasons recently, but man that guy can volley!! If he was healthy and fully up to speed and fitness he would be very, very dangerous with his volleying skills.

MMT said...

I remember seeing Taylor Dent practice at the US Open 5-6 years ago and thinking, man that guy hits like a ton of bricks off both wings. Then I saw his match and couldn't believe how well he volleyed.

It is a shame about his injury problems - I hear he was in a full body cast for a couple of months following his back surgery in 2007. It would be nice to see him make a comeback, but the odds are distinctly against him pushing 28 years old.

Not ironically, his father, Australian Phil Dent, was a doubles specialist who lost to Jimmy Connors at the Australian Open singles final in 1974, and I'm certain, the inspiration for his serve and volley style of play.

Craig Hickman said...

Djoke has a solid game, but nothing special about any part of it. His groundstrokes can be hard to read and he likes to change direction on the ball, but I see him as slightly harder-hitting Lleyton Hewitt.

anonymous said...

Andy Roddick let out a “Yeah!” followed by a “F**k you!” in the direction of opponent Daniel Koellerer during the second-set tiebreak (in full view of Tennis Channel viewers)

What did commentators have to say about this?

Graf_sampras said...

MMT said...

That's the purist in me, Craig. I want to see guys volley like they did 20 years ago, when they KNEW they had to. Just saw an old PEPSI Grand Slam of Tennis match on TTC between Borg and Brian Gottfried, and while Borg's volley's were never great, they were serviceable, but Gottfried really volleyed well. Great game he had.

Nadal's volleys are underrated - he finishes off points better from the net than probably anyone. Although Federer's net game is a little more classical, he does tend to guess on volleys and get passed little more easily than you'd expect.

Maybe 8 out of 10!

Mon Mar 16, 11:32:00 AM


this is absolutely on point about rafael.

i have often said over the years - back even when rafa was still junior and not yet playing the full year schedule ..and only entered a few tournaments and exhibitions and beating moya...that people should watch that kid because "hidden" in his potential was the ability , or at the very least , the FIERCE intent, to be more complete -- right up to playing the volley game...

the years went by and saw him show vulnerabilities, often cited as his "weak serves" which "will NEVER" be weapons, etc. etc. etc. and i know i kept saying -- just wait...when rafa is more ready , and stays healthy, people will see...rafa's "baseline game" was NEVER "just defensive" - it had in it a very AGGRESSIVE nature that was naturaly, logically developed to FIRST "take care of business next door" as I always used to say , even in ESPN message boards years ago...and that it was just a STEPPING STONE for his dream of playing and winning wimbledon..and that it was going to be near impossible for him to win it UNLESS he cultivated the "front half" of the game...and i was right.

but the main point is - if people watch his Youtubes of when he was MUCH younger -- practicing in an indoor basketball court gym . WOOD - VERY FAST -- he was EAGER to take the net as early as that.

it was just a matter of "first things first" in his case .

over the years also - especially starting with his forays into wimbledon and losing the 2007 badly to roger -- people STILL dismissed him -- even as he kept saying:

"I am practicing my slices, my serves, no? i try to volley a little more no? i try to be more aggressive to come forward no? "

i always found it funny that people kept sticking to the notions like CEMENT of rafa JUST 'remaining' as a pure baseliner simply because he wins so well in if he had no room to improve and bccause of the glaring "deficiencies" in serve, in single-backhand ...etc....EVEN as they SAW this was JUST A KID< for god's sake!!!

that;s why i kept telling people:

"just watch ..he has the potential to win EVEN wimbledon...exactly as he said: '...any spaniard can win FO....but to win on grass...i MUST improve...i want to win is my dream to win wimbledon......'til the day i die".

people TOOK IT FOR GRANTED and never gave rafael nadal ENOUGH a tennis player, and as a "dreamer"..

and IN BOTH, many people were WRONG! just as i predicted many years ago.

yesterday -- i was impressed by the tightening of his connections between his basic backcourt game and his serve AND volley...volleying having been already much improved EVEN BY wimbledon 2007 when he lost thje last time to roger...

and there was a superb Serve and Volley from rafael ON THE SECOND SERVE late in the game. that was something .

Graf_sampras said...

Rafa's serves still need a greater consistency in power, although they are already highly serviceable for his purposes ..and are about as match tough as anyone out there today , even those with more naturally big serves. it's a question of HOW and WHEN he uses it and under WHICH pressure.

after all, being a fine serve and volleyer is NOT about sercing ACES -- since that means "there's NO ball in play" ...

it's about having a SOLID good, variety laden serve under the right moment that is the OPENING gambit in a well-executed ATTACKING GAME...for a ball that is IN play. and rafael has improved much on it.

he had to - if he was to win wimbledon, against federer, for example, or the AO or hardcourts...

"options" as rafa says nowadays.

but his Uncle Toni revealed his development's path even while people (TONI NOTED) dismissed those over the years:

"i know people have said rafa only plays a certain way...but truthfully, we have been working on parts of his game gradually over the years even if people did not acknowledge it....his tennis was ALWAYS ABOUT WIMBLEDON".

anyone who NOTED the changes, no matter how small, or ESPECIALLY because they were "unimpressive" according to his better-known association with CLAY style, would NOT be surprised that Toni Nadal revealed "the secret" motive all along -- when saying that statment just last year after wimbledon.


Graf_sampras said...

this is why - when nadal won the FO last year - in some rounds and sets or games - or points -- i began to write in Bogledance's ALLCOURTGAME board :

"nadal is using this FO as a PRACTICE towards wimbledon..he is ALREADY applying things he will need in wimbledon..and is already playing a GRASS COURT GAME on clay".

and it was exactly as happened.

all people have to do - is watch his FO route through the rounds...and then check the wimbledon...

they were being played by a player that was attempting to ON GRASS...the attacking style of game. and was using his strong baseline game "defense game" as they say -- REALLY as a PLATFORM to find any opportunity to ATTACK! and it was just as he did.

Graf_sampras said...

Djokovic said recently of Rafa:

"I Am AWED by how Rafa changes so FAST from defense to offense...when he plays like that - it is twice as difficult".