While tennis fans have been getting quite serious in the last few days, I thought it would be the right time to take a humorous perspective.
So, in the tradition of David Letterman’s Top Ten lists and my own previous article, below is a list of top 20 ways that Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer can get one over the Serbian Superhero at Roland Garros to make this rivalry more interesting.
20. Walk onto court wearing masks of Novak himself, as at this point he probably considers only himself as being good enough to beat his own self.
19. Start doing on-court impersonations of him as well, and hope that since it used to annoy both of them, it could also annoy him and break his concentration.
18. Build a spaceship and have him transported back to Krypton . . . or at least far, far away from Earth.
17. Nadal could change his racquet sponsor to HEAD and Roger could change his kit sponsor to Sergio Tachini. Since Nole won’t be No. 1 at either brand anymore, his ego would compel him to switch to other sponsors, and while it takes time for him to get used to the new racquet and clothing, they could both take him out.
16. Invite Novak for a boys’ night out, and stuff him full of gluten-based foods like pizza, garlic bread and beer. But be careful not to overdo it, as he might then lose in the earlier rounds instead of to either of them.
15. Pay off the stadium staff to lock him in the men's room while he’s in there, and then win the match as a forfeit when he doesn’t show up on court.
14. Have his medical adviser kidnapped, ransoming him off in exchange for victories for both Roger and Rafa.
13. Engage Nole in screaming and chest-thumping competitions after each point, hoping he busts a nerve or something.
12. Convince the organizers to switch the French Open from clay to grass, and convince the ATP to ban both clay and hard-courts as illegal playing surfaces for the ATP Tour. Maybe a third surface could be a charm, right?
11. Steal the smiley-face string vibration dampener from his racquets and replace them with frowning-face ones. This would not only put Djokovic off his rhythm, but would also make him upset whenever he looks down at that frowning face.
10. Play him two (Fed & Nadal) on one (Novak), as the match may be closer, and they could actually have a chance of winning.
9. Carry another ball in one of their pockets, and when Novak blasts that unplayable passing shot, calmly take it out of their pocket and dink it over the net to catch him out of position, and make sure to act all nonchalant about it.
8. Offer to wear T-shirts with Nole's face plastered on them for a whole year, in exchange for the Serb allowing them a victory here or there.
7. Roger and Rafa could both return to play in the Davis Cup for their countries, and maybe if either of them wins the Davis Cup, it could trigger a Novak-like winning streak for them.
6. Enlist the help of Todd Martin, have him disguised as Marian Vajda (Nole’s coach), and let him destroy Novak’s game once again, as he did earlier.
5. Put up a notice on his locker that his match has been shifted to Court Suzanne Lenglen instead of Phillipe Chartrier, and have him wait out there, while they win once again on forfeit.
4. Appeal to his immense sense of patriotism, by forging a letter from the Serbian government that from henceforth tennis is considered to be banned for all Serbians. He’ll just have to give up the game.
3. Two words: itching powder. We’ve seen it work countless times in all-time favorites like Tom & Jerry, Mr. Bean, etc.
2. As in his latest HEAD commercial, challenge him to a game of tennis on the wings of a flying aeroplane, and just make the wing he’s standing on quite slippery. But remember to give him a parachute, because they’d want him to be alive and well while he can watch their ascent in the rankings back over and above him.
And the No. 1 way that Rafael Nadal & Roger Federer can beat Novak Djokovic is . . . (drum roll, please) . . .
1. Have Uncle Toni sit in Nole’s players’ box, which would earn Djokovic some warnings and point deductions for "on-court coaching". We all know nobody does it better than Uncle Toni . . . if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em, right Uncle Toni?