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10 July 2011

Blog - The No. 1 effect


NEWS ARTICLE

Photo: Arne ForsellNovak Djokovic (SRB)

By Ed Pearson at Halmstad

The presence of Novak Djokovic in the otherwise tranquil southern Swedish town of Halmstad has caused a stir for members of the media and general public alike. As soon as the newly-crowned Wimbledon champion touched down on Scandinavian soil, there was a ripple of excitement at the mere mention of his name.

The official driver who picked him up from the airport was gloating to his fellow volunteers that he was the lucky one to be given the responsibility of looking after the new world No. 1.

At Thursday’s draw, it was the Serbian superstar with whom everyone wanted to speak, interview, photograph or film such is the appeal of the best tennis player in the world.

The cheer that greeted his announcement in the opening ceremony on court before the start of play on Friday was spine-tingling to say the least. It would probably be fair to say that some of the home fans were more excited to see Djokovic than they were their own players.

And his appearance on court to play in the doubles rubber alongside Nenad Zimonjic may not have gone to plan – the Swedish doubles team of Simon Aspelin and Robert Lindstedt defeated the Serbians 64 76(5) 75 – but it gave the spectators a real boost.

Djokovic might not have been required to play on Sunday such is the strength of the Serbian team, but he was sitting courtside in support of his countrymen. Whenever there was a quiet moment someone would shout “Nole! Nole! Give us a wave” (or something like that – my Serbian is not what it used to be!) and the loyal fans would be rewarded with a smile and a thumbs up.

Needless to say, Djokovic’s dedication to Davis Cup by BNP Paribas is great for the competition and, more importantly, it’s great for the fans. Long may the Djokovic force continue!   

 


The morning after the night before

By Chris Bowers at Stuttgart

Playing a dead rubber after a night rich in celebrations is a risky business.  Michael Llodra didn't hold back in the French team's festivities
after his doubles win helped see France to an unassailable 3-0 lead over Germany on Saturday. 

But that didn’t mean he was off duty. He had to take to the court on Sunday, and there was severe disquiet among the French, and the officiating ranks, that he might not be able to keep his insides under control when playing Philipp Petzschner in the first reverse singles.  A diet of smiling seemed to do the trick - Llodra played the entire match with a big grin on his face, entered into the spirit of a well-tempered exhibition match, and will be relieved he
didn't disgrace himself, even if he did lose 63 64.

 


Suited Up

By Sandra Harwitt in Austin

United States Davis Cup captain Jim Courier lived up to the promise he made at the first round tie against Chile, in Santiago, back in March. Courier, who at that time wore a collared polo with smart trousers on the court in deference to the hot weather, said when the tie goes indoors he would wear his Hugo Boss suits on court. 

Most captains wear team uniforms on the court, which has always been protocol in Davis Cup. But Courier wanted to make a unique statement, dressing as if he was going to business at a corporate office.

People everywhere took notice of the dapper-dressed Courier. That includes Andy Murray’s mother, Judy, who made mention of Courier’s duds, referencing to the fact that in the National Basketball League’s (NBA), coaches are always on the sidelines wearing dress suits during games.

Murray’s mom tweeted: “Watching USA v Spain dubs. Questions: Why no country name on their backs? Is Jim Courier trying to b the Phil Jackson of tennis?” For those not in the know, Jackson has been the long time coach of the LA Lakers.

When Courier was asked about the chatter on Twitter about his choice of uniform, he responded: “I hope you’re kidding, by the way? Really?

“The suit is what I’m comfortable wearing. It’s interesting that people are noticing it, I guess. But it’s not really much of a factor, is it? I’m not going to be hitting any tennis balls out there. I like the way basketball coaches look when they’re with their teams. I thought that would be something good for me to emulate...I’m not out there to go break a sweat, towel off. I’m there to get towels if they need them...This is just what I want to wear. It’s neither right or wrong, it’s just me.”

 


The LBJ Library in Austin

By Crag Gabriel in Austin

A visit to Austin, Texas would not be complete without a visit to the LBJ (President Lyndon Baines Johnson) Library and Museum.

The modern building is situated on the grounds of the University of Texas and is truly fabulous, very moving and an amazing historical record of one of the most vibrant periods of American history: the 1960’s.

Among the displayed contents at the library is the poignant letter that Jackie Kennedy penned to the Johnson family after her husband, John F. Kennedy Jr., was assassinated in Dallas, Texas in November 1963. It was Johnson who became president upon Kennedy’s death and the letter is particularly emotional to read.

There is a reconstruction of the Oval Office which is one-eighth the size of the real office, but it is perfectly recreated with a wonderful audio description of Johnson’s time at the White House. Johnson’s wife – known to all as Lady Bird although her given name was Claudia -- has also been recreated, and that section of the library looks across a balcony to the skyline of Austin.

The mementos are superb and even the President’s Lincoln Continental car is on display. This library and museum is a must to see and visit.

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  • BLOG EDITOR

    Sandra Harwitt

    Sandra, an American sportswriter for longer than she's willing to admit, has travelled the world to cover tennis for major publications, such as ESPN.com, The Miami Herald and Associated Press. Her biggest problem of late is managing to pack worldwide purchases into suitcases and still meet the airline weight restrictions.

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