Getty Images via Daylife
On the off chance that Novak Djokovic never wins another Major in his career, his performance in the Belgrade Arena this weekend has guaranteed his supremacy in Serbia’s tennis history. (And really, after watching him play with such passion and purpose, how can you think this guy won’t win another Major or three?) Witnessing the way he worked the Serb spectators into a frenzy after his sudden-death fourth rubber victory over Gael Monfils on Sunday, positively vibrating off the crowd’s energy, I think this guy could have an even more illustrious career in politics one day. Or a future as an alternative energy source. (Forget solar or wind, Serbia’s running on Nole power!)
Novak practiced his powers of persuasion right after his big win, urging the crowd to sit tight for the live fifth rubber.
“Go and have a snack and a beer and come back in 15 minutes,” Djokovic said in Serbian (via Tennis.com) “You have to make noise to silence the French, we are at home and we have to make it count.”
“I know it’s difficult staying for best of five.” Novak explained his announcement to an on-court interviewer “It takes hours and hours. . .but the next match is the most important match, maybe, in all of our careers. So we hope we can win.”
They stayed. But was Nole’s announcement really necessary? If you buy a ticket for Davis Cup final and don’t stay for a live fifth rubber, you’ve either choked on your peanuts or just realized that the IceCapades is in the other big arena cross town.
Live fifth rubber. Even when I’m a non-partisan observer, the phrase makes my toes curl. The pressure in Davis Cup is already immense. The guys are fighting for heart and home, for friends and countrymen, for a trophy the size of a Mini Cooper. I might feel really bad for the player that loses, say, the US Open final. But watch a guy, especially a gallant and goofy one like Michael Llodra, go down in flames to a, well, on fire, Viktor Troicki , and. . .
Picture not words:
Photo: DIMITAR DILKOFF/AFP/Getty Images via Daylife.
Live fifth rubbers always end in tears, both kinds.
Photo: REUTERS/Marko Djurica via Daylife.
“This was the greatest experience in my life,” said Troicki, who was Team Serb’s surprise last-minute substitution for Janko Tipsarevic. “I still don’t believe it. I mean, probably tomorrow or in the next few days I will start feeling the emotions of winning the Davis Cup.” (via DavisCup.com)
Photo via DavisCup.com
But live fifth rubbers don’t always end in haircuts! At least on court. Instead of the usual champagne rockets and towel snaps, the Serbian Team brought out the razors.
“In history, [this is] one of the best sport results this country ever had.” Novak told the press room afterwards. “This is by far – individually and team – the best achievements in our career. By far.”
Novak wasn’t so ebullient about his new look: “I’m wearing a hat, and it says it all.”
Here’s some video:
In the lockerroom, Janko meets the blade:
After the trophy presentation, the team reportedly ran out of the stadium to a nearby park for a public celebration with fans, fireworks and a marching band. I’m sure the celebrations will continue for quite some time – perhaps into 2011, as Novak Djokovic and even the up and coming Viktor Troicki go into Melbourne on a haircut high.
Serbia becomes the 13th nation to win Davis Cup. This was the country’s first time in the final.
Now, I beg you, please listen to the excellent podcast at Daviscup.com