By Ann Liguori
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I like Novak Djokovic. He handles himself like a champion. He’s professional and seems like a good person. He has matured on and off the court, and if someone has to replace Roger Federer as number one, although Rafael Nadal did it first, I have no problem with the 24-year-old Serb being the top guy.
I like the way Djokovic represents the sport.
Djokovic has the personality and flair that the tennis world needs from their champions. Jimmy Connors had it, Johnny Mac certainly did too. Andre Agassi brought his own “image is everything” to the game.
In the women’s game, Billie Jean King invented the word. Chrissie was tennis’ darling. And Martina revealed more of her dynamic personality after she retired. Serena and Venus are fierce competitors on the court but don’t endear themselves to the media, not that they have to.
But I get the sense that Djokovic “works” it and tries to be the best he can be with the fans, the media, whomever. He appreciates and enjoys the position he has earned and in his humble, humorous way, he has injected a lot of fun in the game. And the sport needs this injection!
Of course it doesn’t hurt that he is having the greatest season of any athlete on the planet! Djokovic is 19 and 1 in majors this year! (Roger Federer is the only one to beat him and that was in the semifinals at the French Open). 58 wins, 2 loses over-all this season! The Serb is flying high.
Djokovic played his first round match on Tuesday afternoon but after being up 6-0, 5-1, his opponent, Irishman Conor Niland, (one of two Irishmen in the draw this year and the first time ever an Irishman has played in a Grand Slam event) retired from the match with what he called food poisoning, although it looked like he twisted his ankle on the court.
Djokovic was a good sport, and although he didn’t get a workout, he realizes he can use the rest!
And UNICEF announced on Tuesday that Djokovic will serve as an Ambassador for the organization in Serbia. UNICEF says “the partnership will allow Djokovic, a native of Serbia, to continue to push to defend children’s rights and provide access to early childhood education.”
I like to see top athletes get involved with good causes and use their influence in a positive way. Djokovic is having one heck of a season and looks like he is headed in the right direction, on and off the court.
Be sure to catch Ann’s live reports from the US Open on WFAN 660 AM. For more information on Ann, visit her web site at www.annliguori.com.
Are you a big Djokovic fan? Let Ann know why in the comments below!