|World #1 Novak Djokovic|
Some tennis fans, millions of them actually, love the immense outward confidence and bravado of Novak Djokovic. Others find the cocksure Serbian's emotional on-court displays of machismo and chest-pounding to be a bit chafing and over the top. What all tennis fans appreciate about the top-ranked 24 year-old is the enormous passion, skill, and commitment he brings to our sport.
For the better part of the last decade, Roger Federer has owned professional tennis, and he has served as arguably the most gracious and respected ambassador any sport has ever had. Rafael Nadal, the man who finally challenged Federer's long reign of tennis dominance, brings his own breed of beauty and gravity to the sport, only with added elements of brute strength and perseverance.
Novak Djokovic is different. In his ascension to the top of men's tennis, he has clearly brought weapons that rival those of Federer and Nadal, but his arsenal is unique. His game has no flaws, and his athleticism and flexibility are marvels of sport. So long as his iron will is working with him and not against him, he is virtually unbeatable.
Beyond his tennis prowess and talent though, Novak brings new personality to the game. He laughs, he yells (mostly at himself), and he applauds with a few taps of his racket when an opponent executes a remarkable tennis shot to beat him. Intentional or not, he allows fans to glimpse what's happening inside his heart and mind, even as he works to rein in and harness his emotions.
Roger brings grace to the sport, and Rafa brings power. Novak brings fire.
Djokovic told his personal story to journalist Bob Simon this week on CBS' 60 Minutes. His journey from war-torn Serbia to the pinnacle of men's professional tennis is remarkable and inspiring. From the woman who first recognized 5 year-old Novak's talent to the dark basement where his family hid during seventy-eight consecutive days of bombing in Belgrade - we begin to understand how winning tennis championships has transformed not only Novak Djokovic, but the entire nation of Serbia.
You can see Novak's full 60 Minutes interview here and gain insight into the personality, character, and wit of the tennis great.