2010 US Open: The Dad Srdjan Djokovic vs. the Uncle Toni Nadal
A rain-delayed Monday US Open final dawns.
Can Djokovic repeat his moment of magic against the top seed, Rafael Nadal?
Nadal is the overwhelming favourite going into the Flushing Meadows final.
But Djokovic should look no further than his own box, more specifically his father wearing an extraordinarily loud T-shirt with the Joker’s mug smiling back at him for awesome motivation.
Djokovic’s dad , Srdjan Djokovic, dares to look ridiculous just so his son Djokovic can feel that he’s not alone struggling on that blue quad.
The centre court can be a desolate place. You can be surrounded by people and yet be the loneliest person on the planet.
It’s the little things that sometimes make a huge difference.
Only Djokovic can tell us how much his mad dad’s presence adds to his mental reserves – his strength,fortitude and will.
Rafael Nadal has his uncle and long-time coach Toni to guide him to yet another Slam.
Toni Nadal has been Nadal’s only coach, guide and friend for most , if not all , of his career.
He has moulded his game, his entire approach, his attitude and is perhaps his only source of inspiration.
Monday’s title match is a battle between an uncle and a father, on the sidelines.
An interesting sideshow - maybe an engrossing one.
In these days of pushy tennis parents and guardians, the focus has always been on the women players and their rebellious strife and troubles.
The male players now have equally large familial entourages and retinues.
But that’s not all this Monday’s final is about.
It’s about a young Mallorcan, a champion, a young champion , only 24 seeking a career Grand Slam. Young, no doubt, but with years of experience behind him. He has been on the tour seven long years.
And it’s about a Serb, who can make it his second Grand Slam of his career, a player who probably wonders if his only Australian Open victory was a one-off and whether he can ever clasp a Grand Slam trophy once more.
In the final analysis, the tennis pundits may say that it was Nadal’s exacting service game, his vicious spinning forehands and his ability to run his opponents ragged that won the tournament for him. Or it may be the Serb’s superior return of serve or his crushing backhand that made the difference.
But behind the play enacted on the cyanic court, there are stories to be told, stories to be heard and the tale of the uncle and the dad might be the most riveting one yet.
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