Wednesday, February 13, 2008


I'm quite certain I'm not the only one who feels this way, but Novak Djokervic's retirement from a Davis Cup tie for Serbia against Russia, has to be the most disgraceful thing I've ever seen in tennis. This event is nothing if it is not honorable, and if its participants are not going to take it seriously, then why should anybody else.

To be fair, this isn't the first time he's run from a fight, and I'm guessing it won't be the last, but in the past the impact has only been to himself. Now, a country newly proud of their tennis pedigree (and rightfully so) has to live with the shame of its prodigal son returning to the colors of their flag, and turning them bright yellow.

I know there are few top players who take Davis Cup seriously. Federer, Nadal, and now Djokervic, have all thrown in the towel when it comes to this hallowed competition, which seems more important now to tennis nation minnows, than it does to the players who earn (for everyone) the big bucks. But with the exception of the Americans, who are so committed to playing for their country that they've had the same line-up for almsot 2 years straight, no tennis country can seem to muster up the best players with any consistency, and those of us who revere Davis Cup for what it stands, and what it can be if we put some mustard on it, are quite fed up.

But here, with the Djoker, there's one glaring difference. This kid actually quit in the middle of a match, because of a fever...a fever!  And in a melodramatic show of either petulance, or feigned emergency, Djokervic walked off the court without bothering to even collect his belongings. I'm sure one or two Russians had more than a mild chuckle at the sight of a Serbian turning tail and running from a fight on Russian soil. I'm sure they're wondering how they ever lost the Soviet empire. And the ghosts of Serbians past, who most certainly can't stand Russians, are probably rolling in their graves at the sight of this slinking weasel, scuttering off the court in shame.

And his mother, shaking her head all along for the cameras, pretending that he's doing something that isn't to be expected of him (i.e. take off his skirt and finish a match for his country if it kills him) is just a side-show to the continuing parade of disgraceful images and actions with which this whole family have sullied the beautiful game of tennis.

At least Jimmy Connors didn't bother to play Davis Cup for 14 years rather than disgracing himself on this stage. Fair enough - he was going through some family issues in 1984, and didn't give his best when he bagged it against Sweden in the final that should have been ours, but at least the man had enough self-respect to finish the match.

In my opinion, there's only one way to finish a Davis Cup match, and it is as the Romans told their soldiers before coming back from a fight:

With your shield or on it.