Novak Djokovic Needs to Either Put Up or Shut Up

Matthew SchiffmanAnalyst IJune 25, 2008

On the first Wednesday of Wimbledon, tennis’ most prestigious tournament saw its biggest upset of 2008 occur.

The third seed, and third ranked player in the world, Novak Djokovic fell to unseeded, and world No. 75, Marat Safin in the second round, 6-4, 7-6 (3), 6-2.

As a result, the major storyline was that Safin, who has two majors under his belt, might be returning to championship form.

I’ve always liked Safin and enjoyed watching him play, so I loved seeing him pull off such an upset. I think he deserves to bask in the glory of this win.

But, there is another storyline being overlooked here, and that is Novak Djokovic’s inability to walk the walk after already talking the talk.

After Rafael Nadal demolished Roger Federer in the final of the French Open just a few weeks ago, Djokovic made some statements to the media in which he expressed his belief that Federer is more vulnerable than ever.

“Some things are changing.  I think he’s a little bit shaken with that [French Open final] loss and mentally he has been struggling in the last couple of months. New names are coming, fresh talented players who believe more they can win against him and I am one of them. Suddenly he is worried a little bit.”

Apparently, Djokovic should have been worrying a little bit more about his own game.

No one is going to argue with him that Federer looks more beatable now than he ever has since reaching the top ranking in the world. But, is it really necessary for Djokovic to come out and say that?

First of all, Djokovic is 2-6 against Federer. With that head-to-head record, he has no reason to be talking negatively about Federer’s game. Sure, Djokovic took out Federer at the Australian Open in straight sets early on this year. But, Federer had just recovered from mononucleosis in January, and was playing in his first tournament of the year.

Plus, of all the places for Djokovic to come out and make these comments, he should have chosen a better venue. One would assume that he is fully aware that Federer has won Wimbledon five straight years, and hasn’t lost on grass in 61 matches. So, to say that Federer is “worried a little bit” right before you begin a tournament that he has owned is not such a good idea.

If Djokovic wanted his statements to have any real meaning behind them, he should have waited until Wimbledon ended.  If Federer left London without a sixth consecutive crown, then maybe Djokovic’s words would have carried some weight.

Instead, the young Serb made himself look like a fool, losing in straight sets in the second round, hardly a week after making those comments, while Federer rolled into the third round with another straight set victory.

Honestly, if you’re going to call out the No. 1 player in the world, make sure you can take care of the 75th-ranked player first.