The Andy & Novak Show: Serves, Volleys And Barbs, Too

WASHINGTON, April 19, 2020 (by Michael Dickens)

On Friday night, Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic – old rivals on the tennis court and good friends off it – hosted an hour-long Instagram Live chat together, in which they answered questions submitted by fans and shared an enjoyable – albeit old-fashioned – conversation. It was at times lively, with plenty of banter between the two, and always, it was entertaining. Now, let’s hope there are more of these – maybe, even involving Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal in the weeks ahead.

“How are you doing?” asked Djokovic. “Not bad,” replied Murray. “I am doing what most people are doing just now, not up to a whole lot.”

“I am in Spain,” said Djokovic. “It is our sixth week in 24/7 lockdown. Honestly, as a tennis player, it’s really weird to be in one place for more than five to six weeks. I haven’t experienced that for 15 years. But I’m really glad to be with family.”

Murray and Djokovic addressed the GOAT (Greatest of All Time) debate, what moment in their career they would like to change, plus the mental edge the “Big Three” have over the younger generations.

As fellow players like Nick Kyrgios and Stan Wawrinka joined in, both Murray and Djokovic were quick with their barbs toward their on-court foes. Murray commented on the Aussie’s new tattoo art, joking that he’s “not certain about the sleeve tattoo, although you can probably pull it off better than me.” When it came time to call out Wawrinka’s colorful attire he wore when he won the 2015 French Open, Djokovic (who was on the losing side of the net against the Swiss star) laughed and said, “Stan, if you’re watching, I hope you burn those shorts.” Wawrinka responded with a laugh emoji in the comments.

Another highlight of the Murray-Djokovic chat came when each constructed their “perfect” tennis player.

• Djokovic’s perfect player: Serve – Isner/Kyrgios. Return – Murray. Forehand – Del Potro. Backhand – Murray. Volley – Federer. Mental – Nadal. Physical – Thiem/Ferrer.

• Murray’s perfect player: Serve – Kyrgios/Isner. Return – Djokovic. Forehand – Nadal. Backhand – Djokovic. Volley – Federer. Mental – Nadal. Physical – Djokovic.

Djokovic keeps up the chat with Wawrinka

On Saturday afternoon, Novak Djokovic built upon the momentum from his Friday chat with Andy Murray when he and Stan Wawrinka got together via Instagram Live. Among the takeaways:

Djokovic: “Roger is arguably the GOAT. A guy that is liked around the world. I don’t expect the crowd to be on my side and I’m OK with that, because it’s Roger. Very similar with Rafa. I think it’s more the greatness of them as people than me doing something wrong.”

Wawrinka: “You were a bit different when you were younger. In a movie you can’t have three good characters.”

Djokovic: “In the first three to five years, I was feeling it was me against the world. I was that confident young player. Not anymore.”

Tennis Way Back Machine: 2005

Fifteen years ago this week, then-18-year-old Gaël Monfils broke into the Top 100 by winning the ATP Challenger Tour‘s inaugural Tunis Open on clay in Tunis, Tunisia. He beat fellow Frenchman Fabrice Santoro, winning in a tie break, 7-5, 3-6, 7-6 (9).

What they’re saying

Paula Vieira Souza, 38, from Brazil, is the first woman from Latin America to earn a gold badge as a chair umpire. In a recent story posted to the WTA Tour website, Souza recalled how she got interested in umpiring: “At 16, I already knew that my tennis talent would be better used in other areas, since I never liked to compete – just to play and enjoy. I think it was also due to my personality. I like to be kind and nice to everyone, and so when I went on court as a player, it was like, ‘I have to win a match and the other person has to lose because of that.’ So, for me it was, ‘No. I don’t like this feeling!’

“I saw opportunities in national events, events in my city, and people from the local federation who knew me were like, ‘Paula, would you like to try officiating?’ … So I said ‘Why not?’

“At this time, I was never dreaming, ‘Oh, I want to really become a chair umpire,’ but I was there. The opportunity was there.”

What they’re tweeting

ATP Tour / Rafael Nadal coming to Instagram Live 

World Tennis Magazine / US Open ideas

Martina Navratilova, Hall of Fame great, winner of 59 total Grand Slams