Novak: On the path to greatness … or the need for an attitude readjustment ?
He is arguably the best tennis player to grace center court. He is a philanthropist, a father and husband and one hell of an athlete. He is an inspiration to millions of kids with racquets in hand and is a beacon of shining light for an entire European region torn apart by war. He boasts countless Grand Slam and ATP titles, a Davis Cup title and a bronze Olympic medal. So what gives?
As the time passes the road to greatness undoubtedly only gets harder. There is more on the line and naturally the pressure mounts. And it’s showing. Sitting here at the Indian wells practice court watching Novak hit some balls, I couldn’t help but notice an “attitude” about him I don’t think we noticed before. In fact the more I started digging, the more I uncovered an increasingly odd behavior; tossing balls around, smashing his racquet, yelling at anyone that’s closest to him in that moment. A loss here, an angry outburst. A rough win there, another slew of foul words at his box. Of course, his team has a tough skin and they’re trained for anything that comes their way.
But with greatness comes great responsibility. Maybe most fans can’t see it, but I’m a fan and I can definitely see something in need of adjusting. Attitude. But that’s just he band-aid solution isn’t it? The critical part here is the way that Novak continues a strange spiral into this sort of air of, for lack of a good psychological term, panic.
Can I beat Federer’s Grand Slam record? Can I sustain this level as the younger guys claw their way up? Could I really be the greatest of this generation? Will Larry Ellison or Leonardo DiCaprio want to sit in my box if I don’t continue to preform?
Here are my answers. Number 1: who cares what other people think, and Number 2: he can statistically be the greatest of all time (he’s already the greatest in my mind). Period.
If anyone is paying attention to Novak lately he’s got a lot of extra curricular activity going on. But how much is too much? Surely at some point, those fancy dinners and extra photo shoots could get in the way of one’s focus. Perhaps it’s the juggling of this all that has become increasingly difficult to balance… basic physics would argue that spreading oneself too thin runs the risk of becoming less effective. If this is the case, and I strongly believe it is, then the key for Novak would be is to simplify his life. Tell your pals you’re here to for the tennis. My mother used to say, if they really love you, they’ll understand. So say thank-you and talk to you after I prove to history that I’m the best.
Novak seems like the kind of guy that loves to say yes– and a yes man is he BEST kind of man (can someone say hello Jim Carrey?). But hey… let’s take a step back and think about ourself for a moment, shall we Novak? Take a long, hard look yourself in the mirror and try to see the steam coming out of your ears. If you’re on the road to greatness, this panic can’t be doing you too many favors.
It really is a matter of figuring out a way to balance it all. My advice for Novak: shed the A-listers for a second, the shoots, the obligations outside of the sport and focus on yourself and your team. Work on the relationships that truly mean the most to you. I promise your attitude will adjust itself… and I promise your results will follow. While I believe Novak is already the greatest tennis player in the Open Era, the statistics just need to catch up to him. And they will.
Just simplify and smile.