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Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Novak Djokovic, the Serb relishes grass at Wimbledon - 2018


“It tastes very, very good this year, he said after with a laugh. “It’s a little tradition obviously. As a kid I was dreaming of winning Wimbledon, so, like every child, you dream of doing something crazy when you actually achieve it — if you achieve it — and that was one of the things.”  ~ can you imagine what this reference is to – when the Serbian won Wimbledon ??

Serbia's finance ministry said on Tuesday it sold 4.1 billion dinars ($40.7 million/34.7 million euro) of five-year dinar-denominated Treasury notes in a reopening of the issue. The amount sold is 15.02% of the target, the finance ministry said in a statement. The government securities were first auctioned on January 23, when the finance ministry raised 11.6 billion dinars, below its target of 110 billion dinars, at an average weighted yield of 4.28%. Demand for the government debt paper, which matures on January 25, 2023, stood at 10.3 billion dinars.

                          Serbia   is a sovereign state situated at the crossroads of Central and Southeast Europe in the southern Pannonian Plain and the central Balkans. It borders Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Macedonia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro  and claims a border with Albania through the disputed territory of Kosovo. Its capital, Belgrade, ranks among the oldest  cities in southeastern Europe. Following the Slavic migrations to the Balkans postdating the 6th century, Serbs established several states in the early Middle Ages. The Serbian Kingdom obtained recognition by Rome and the Byzantine Empire in 1217, reaching its peak in 1346.  Following disastrous casualties in World War I, and the subsequent unification of the former Habsburg crownland of Vojvodina (and other territories) with Serbia, the country co-founded Yugoslavia with other South Slavic peoples, which would exist in various political formations until the Yugoslav Wars of the 1990s. During the breakup of Yugoslavia, Serbia formed a union with Montenegro, which dissolved peacefully in 2006. In 2008, the parliament of the province of Kosovo unilaterally declared independence, with mixed responses from the international community.

Last year, Federer beat Nadal in the Australian Open final, the Spaniard won a 10th French Open final, Federer took the Wimbledon title and then Nadal won the US. For the large numbers of fans of the two men across the globe -  it was a joyous battle. But it was not a good advert for men’s tennis and it continued this year as they both defended titles in Australia and France respectively. This year was different at Wimbledon.

Anderson had come into the final less than 48 hours after beating John Isner in a six-and-a-half-hour epic that saw him triumph 26-24 in the fifth set. His opponent Novak Djokovic was also faced with a physical challenge after his semi-final was postponed midway through by the 11pm curfew and he and Rafael Nadal were forced to come back on Saturday to finish the match. However, it was still Anderson who appeared to be struggling with tiredness the most and that might have accounted for his extremely unusual error.

The South African had already lost the first set 6-2, his towering serve broken twice by Djokovic, and was serving at 0-2 in the second after being broken again. The Serb had forced the game to deuce and the pair found themselves in the middle of a baseline rally when umpire James Keothavong was forced to intervene and stop the point. A spare ball had dropped out of Anderson’s pocket onto the court which is a mandatory let the first time it happens - the second time incurs a point penalty on the part of the offending player. The replay of the point ended up in another battle from the baseline and Anderson ended up winning it anyway, much to Djokovic’s frustration.

Anderson, a prolific server, was broken four times in the opening two sets as Djokovic stormed into the lead. The 6ft 8ins giant had five set points to take it into a fourth at 5-4 and 6-5 - only to squander them all. Djokovic then moved up a gear in the tie-break to take a 6-2 6-2 7-6 win in 2hr 18mins. The Serb's win extended the domination of the big four - Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Andy Murray and himself. The quartet have now won 48 of the last 53 major championships.

Back home, World no.1 Novak Djokovic was greated by 100,000 people in front of the National Assembly of Serbia in Belgrade on Monday. Thousands of people lined up the streets as Novak, accompanied by his family and members of his professional team, drove from the airport in an open-top bus to the centre of the city, bringing traffic to a standstill and triggering ovations from citizens. People got out of their cars on the main motorway to salute Serbia’s most popular athlete, whose entire family paraded alongside him on a giant stage where bands entertained the crowd. “Nole, we love you”, “Nole the king”, the crowd chanted as Nole stepped on a stage holding a replica of the Wimbledon trophy.

Earlier  Djokovic prompted controversy at home after he announced he would be supporting the Croatian national football team as they enter the final stretches of the World Cup in Russia. The two neighbors and former Yugoslav nations have had tense relations since Croatia won its independence in 1995 following a bloodly conflict. Although they established diplomatic ties shortly thereafter, the subsequent two decades have been punctuated by mutual accusations of war crimes and an intense sports rivalry.

"Only idiots can support Croatia. Aren't you ashamed Novak?" tweeted politician Vladimir Djukanovic, a member of President Aleksander Vucic’s Serbian Progressive Party. "Djokovic is a national hero and I thank him — but support Croatia, how can he not be ashamed? So many Serbs from Krajina (a region in Croatia where Serbs were once the majority) backed him and yet he supports the country who drove them out." The parliamentarian also called anyone who supported Croatia in their recent win over Russia "psychopaths and mad, fit for being locked up in an asylum." Defending himself in the Serbian daily Telegraf, the 12-time grand slam winner said: "Sports have their 'universal language,' they erase boundaries between people, overcome differences in religion, race and nationality."

Now if you still remember reference to the bizarre incident – of the taste referred in para 1 – Novak Djokovic has the habit of eating blades of grass after his win at Wimbledon.  After his 4th title, he  performed his traditional Wimbledon victory celebration by kneeling down, grabbing a few blades of grass and tasting them to savor his win on the most hallowed court in tennis.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
18th July 2018.

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