Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The Little Nation That Could

You know what? I think I can probably squeeze another day out of Davis Cup blogging after all. So here goes!

Even though, as we all know, I am definitely not Novak Djokovic's biggest fan, I kind of love the story of Serbia and the Davis Cup. It reminds me of Croatia five years back - it's a sort of Little Nation That Could story. It's the story of a country who managed to topple countries much bigger with much deeper pools than they have with what seems like heart alone.

Of course, that isn't one hundred percent true - the Serbian team is totally talented and it's more than just will that's got them this far. But the incredible driving force of the will of the nation - correct me if I'm wrong, but tennis is the most popular sport in Serbia, yesno? - was definitely a big deal.

By rights, France should have taken this one. Serbia may have Djokovic, but France has got about ten dudes in the top hundred (or something similarly ridiculous). And France was also the team that knocked Spain - the nation which is clearly the world's tennis powerhouse at the moment - out of contention. France has the depth which Serbia lacks - while Djokovic is excellent and Tipsarevic and Troicki are very good and Zimonjic is a world class doubles player - if one of them is out, then there are REAL problems. But Serbia - well, it's the little nation that could.

I don't think Djokovic functioned quite in the way that Ivan Ljubicic did for Croatia in 2005 - I don't think he provided quite the same kind of extreme rallying point than Ljubo did, though his matchplay record is clearly comparable. No, the Serbian triumph was, I feel, much more of a team effort. I feel almost a bit bad for Djokovic, actually, because his excellence was sort of assumed. It was just sort of assumed that he would win both his singles rubbers and that the team would try and take care of that one remaining point... and the people that did take care of that point were the ones who were the heroes (Tipsarevic in the semis, Troicki in the final.) The Ljubicic story was almost the story of How One Man Won The Davis Cup (with a bit of help from Mario Ancic). The Serbian narrative is different.

But I don't think it's necessarily a bad thing that it was this way. Actually, I think it's a good thing that the Serbian victory has been a team deal. Novak Djokovic winning a big tournament? Well, that's not that exciting. But a tiny nation with a handful of talented players and a whole lot of heart winning it? Now that is a story.

1 comment:

Yolita said...

You know what's surprising? Tennis is NOT the most popular sport in Serbia. It's getting more popular by the day because of these players, but many men consider tennis a sport watched by girls! LOL!

The most popular sports in Serbia are basket-ball (another story there, Serbia went to the US to play the World Finals against the hosts and won the title, I think in 2002, I'm not sure), water-polo and foot-ball.

And I don't feel bad for Novak,he loved his role. He thrived under the expectations and welcomed the responsability. He didn't want to take the limelight away form his team-mates. They are like brothers. They look like criminals right now, but they're all very sweet.