Thursday, June 13, 2024

A historic win at Roland Garros

Musings by Shekhar Nambiar

The immediate motivation to pen this piece is the ‘Sunday Sentiments’ column by columnist and TV journalist Karan Thapar in the Hindustan Times.

A week ago, all-time tennis great Novak Djokovic created history, winning his 23rd Grand Slam. 

Djokovic’s is no ordinary victory. Coming from a small country as he does, the Serbian descended on the world tennis scene with a fire in his belly. His goal was to play at Wimbledon, by no means an easy task. During his days growing up, Serbia was going through a turbulent period, war ravaged and troubled. Djokovic has recounted the period when he and his grandpa stood in long queues for bread. 

Novak Djokovic with the cup

Serve to win

Serbia was the last place you’d expect to produce a champion. Yet, there emerged this young lad fighting all odds to emerge victorious. His story doesn’t end there. There were a lot more struggles, trials and tribulations for him all along the way.  His battle with gluten intolerance was one of them. He describes this vividly in his book Serve to Win.

As recently as a few years ago, during the Covid pandemic, he battled it out with the Australian establishment, which denied him entry to play in the Australian Open. Whatever may have been the controversy behind it, vaccine or no vaccine, the entire thing must have been quiet agonizing for the champion.

Djokovic emerged from every struggle in his arduous journey triumphant. And there were many psychological and mental worries that he had to contend with. 

Also read: Spectacular tennis from sizzling Paris

Indian link

There’s an Indian link to the story as Djokovic was racing to his victory, match after match. Our President, Smt Droupadi Murmu, on a State visit to Serbia, tweeted about Djokovic’s large following in India and what an inspiration he has been to Indian youth.  In a conversation with a TV anchor after his victory in one of the matches, he thanked the President for her special mention and said he wanted to return to India that he loves so dearly.

Back to Roland Garros where he proved that he was still invincible, and at the same retaining a fair degree of calmness, composure and humility. 

Joy of winning 23rd grandslam

A different Djokovic

He was seen not to be upset, distracted or lose his cool in his last two matches. In fact, he displayed his superior prowess in the crucial semi-final and final matches.True to the spirit of Roland Garros’s spirit that ‘Victory belongs to the most tenacious’.

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There’s every reason to believe that a victory in the sweltering heat of Paris can act as a scene-setter for Djokovic to take forward his winning streak at the upcoming Grand Slams.

Karan Thapar, the devil’s advocate

Media spectacle

One cannot agree more with Thapar about tennis being the perfect sport from a media perspective.

The involvement of the spectators with the player is quite obvious. Each action with the tennis racquet, grunts, disappointments at losing a crucial volley, and the consequent frustration, are for all to see.

The occasional muttering, and soliloquy, also has the audience respond, sometimes appreciatively but also with jeers and booing on several occasions.

Tennis is very much an individual game. So, the victory or defeat is also of the individual. Perhaps the one person who feels the pain, anguish and a range of other emotions, with the player is the coach.

It’s a media spectacle because the game can go on and on, stretching to more than four long and tiring hours. The camera catches it all. It cannot lie. Anger, frustration and disappointments alternate between one another, and in the end,it is really a victory of grit and determination over nervousness and distractions.

As with other sport, celebration and bouquets await the champion at the end of it all.

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Shekhar Nambiar
Shekhar Nambiar
Shekhar is a communications professional who has spent a good deal of time in international organizations and in the development sector. As he puts it, it's been an "exciting journey" for him, beginning his working life as a journalist, with some of the best editors and professionals, before venturing into public affairs and then forays in the private sector. He believes "every day brings new challenges, achievements and success, and the key is to play a small part in whatever it is that you're doing". He tries to keep pace with new tech, and learn a new word a day, of course, "Gen Z lingo!"


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