Feb/12

6

Jelena Ristic, You’re Number One


Of all the tennis box supporters, nobody has ever cheered and pumped up her beau like Jelena Ristic. She played a significant role in her boyfriend Novak Djokovic’s 2012 Australian Open triumph and perhaps, it’s more than possible he could not have defeated Murray and Nadal without her adoring support and inspiration.

Ristic was such a darling of the TV cameras that she probably got more TV airtime during the Australian Open than most of the players in both the men’s and women’s main draws. Who can forget Ristic, pleading, imploring, cheering, jumping out of her seat, willing her man on with fighting fists and positive eye contact. I actually believe Ristic might have been the difference maker in the Murray match, as Djokovic looked in desperate peril late in the fifth set.

He might not have won that match if it were not for Ristic doing her thing. Murray, unfortunately, did not receive any such energy or support from his box which sat lackluster and mostly stoic as one of the most thrillingly dramatic Grand Slam matches of the decade was unfolding. Could it have been the minute difference in determining the outcome of this clash of tennis titans? You bet your bippy.

Ristic was also there for Djokovic in the final five set roller coaster ride vs. Nadal. And again she came up big, showing fire, love, and inspiring, motivating support in pushing and powering her man on to the spectacular victory over the ferocious and furious challenge of the desperately wounded, seven times gored Spanish bull.

After the performances by both Djokovic and Ristic, I could not think of any other box supporter who stood out so exceptionally as Ristic. Bec Hewitt is always totally focused and engrossed into the matches like Ristic but she does not really get so physically and emotionally involved as Ristic, she is more of a spectator.

Let’s consider more…Mirka, Brooklyn Decker, Brooke Shields, Patrician Larrian, Rafter’s wife, Mrs. Pete Sampras, Kim Sears, Steffi Graf, Morgan Fruhwirth, Stacey Gardner, Adam Scott, Patty Connors, Tatum O’Neal, Andy Mill, Common, were your basic, typical standard box supporters, sitting there mild mannerly while not actively engaging to the emphatic degree that Ristic does when she feels it’s necessary.

That’s not to take away from how anybody else does their supporting, but Ristic clearly stands out from the rest. She is simply the best at it, bar none.

Perhaps Ristic, who is said to hold a Master’s degree in Finance, is another accurate reflection of the excellence of Djokovic, not only as a supremely talented player but also as a wise young man who knows how to select the right kind of people to be a part of his team and inner circle.

So here’s to you, let’s raise a toast to Jelena Ristic, the greatest supporter I have ever seen in twenty five years of watching pro tennis on TV.

17 comments

  • Thomas Tung · February 7, 2012 at 12:42 am

    She also happens to be a reasonably attractive young lady as well … never hurts 🙂

  • Scoop Malinowski · February 7, 2012 at 1:01 am

    You make a good point Thomas : )

  • Andrew Miller · February 7, 2012 at 4:21 am

    No complaints here, Ristic is definitely dedicated. Over the years there have been a lot of dedicated folks in the players’ boxes. That said, she is into the tennis, which is nice to see.

  • Andrew Miller · February 7, 2012 at 4:34 am

    As for Scoop on Djokovic’s wisdom and choices – I have to agree. Call me crazy but Djokovic’s game is looking more and more like a mix of Sampras (serve [not Sampras’ but VERY GOOD], lethality of game, assasin mentality), Agassi (ability to stand in one spot and dictate – Djokovic is doing this like Agassi did) and then Connors (mixing in the crowd). I don’t think Djokovic draws only on his support from his player box – I think he is fully tapped in to the crowd energy. Federer channeled it and Nadal does too. Add to that Djokovic, who is quickly becoming the best hardcourt player of the triumverate.

  • Scoop Malinowski · February 7, 2012 at 2:17 pm

    Andrew she takes the first prize, I can’t recall any one getting so into the match in the box like Ristic, I really believe her presence uplifted Djokovic and made the difference at the end. She did it perfectly. Certain players need that, and sometimes every player needs that extra push. Djokovic is one who feeds off the crowd support and he definitely got it and extra in Melbourne. Some players say, “The crowd got me through.” Players always credit the crowd support because it’s so important. Ristic seems to know this and how it helps Djokovic and she took it to another level. Her performance was the best I have ever seen of any box member. Along with his superior game this is another department that Djokovic has an edge over Rafa, Fed, Murray who do not get the extra boost from Xisca (spell?), Mirka, and Kim Sears, respectively.

  • Scoop Malinowski · February 7, 2012 at 2:20 pm

    Andrew, Imagine if Djokovic does get his serve to be better – which can’t be ruled out – I can see Djokovic becoming the best player in the history of tennis. He could be on the way. Even when Fed was on top, Nadal dominated him. Even when Nadal was on top, Djokovic dominated him. But I don’t see anyone emerging who can dominate Djokovic.

  • jeanius · February 8, 2012 at 2:05 am

    She is so attractive, what is she doing with him (no beauty)?

  • Gans · February 8, 2012 at 3:26 am

    Interesting perspective, Scoop.

    Something different from the forehands and the backhands. 🙂

    You wrote, “Even when Fed was on top, Nadal dominated him. Even when Nadal was on top, Djokovic dominated him. But I don’t see anyone emerging who can dominate Djokovic.”

    Remember, Nadal used to be invincible in your eyes just a year ago? You predicted that he would go on to win 17 or 18. What none of us saw coming in 2011 was that Djokovic who had already eclipsed Nadal stroke for stroke in their previous encounters would start winning those which he used to lose in the past. In my observation, the major reason for that metamorphosis was because of his improved physical fitness, which in turn turned him into a man of steel.

    In a similar way, to me, it appears Andy Murray is closing the gap between him and Djokovic. Even last year, Murray came so close to being the first man to put an end to Novak’s winning streak. Djokovic just found a way to beat Murray as Nadal did against him many times before he turned it around. Also, in this year’s AO, Murray was very close to beating Djokovic. It’s just a question of fitness: physical and mental. If he figures that out he has the game to defeat Djokovic.

    With his diet going gluten-free,
    Novak went on a winning spree;
    Murray may have enough patience,
    But can he avoid play stations? 🙂

    While Jelena Ristic cheered and cried
    Kim Sears sat in the box wide-eyed
    The Serbian army is on Nole’s side
    Can Lendl alone turn the tide?

  • Andrew Miller · February 8, 2012 at 4:25 am

    Ha Scoop – if it’s one thing I have learned watching tennis, it’s that the #1 player creates the opposition.

    Djokovic’ lead over the field forces other players to get better. Federer’s dominance resulted in Nadal working harder than ever to beat Federer and players like Djokovic and Roddick picking up the crumbs. But Djokovic then followed Nadal’s lead and example, and took out both Nadal and Federer.

    So my theory is: the top player challenges the rest of the field to get better. If Nadal and Federer are no longer Djokovic’s competition, other players will pick up the slack. It’s a little early to figure out who it will be.

    I think Murray’s getting closer to a slam and by this point, players like Murray are aware that a slam win runs through Djokovic. There may also be another player who, like Nadal or Djokovic, makes an assault on the top ten – some young player like Tomic or Raonic who improves by the millisecond.

    We might look at Raonic now and say how could you lose to Hewitt? But look at Guga Kuerten – Kuerten beat up on Federer at the 2004 French Open, probably Federer’s best chance at his first French Open crown and a title that might have given him confidence to add to his French Open wins.

    But look what happenned after the 2004 loss to Kuerten – Federer turned into the world’s best player and among the best all time (if not the best – to me he’s the best because of the # of slam wins and Federer-Nadal-Djokovic is something we may not see for another decade, we will be sad when it’s over!). So maybe Raonic will muster something.

    Scary to think about it, but it might happen that Tomic and Raonic make inroads on the top 15 THIS YEAR and become fixtures in the top ten for the next few years.

  • Scoop Malinowski · February 8, 2012 at 12:38 pm

    Ganspeare, it looks like Murray could very well be the heir apparent to Djokovic. He is bigger and physically stronger, and like you point out, is right there on just about even terms with Djokovic as evidenced by their head to head the last year. Murray is in position to make the slight adjustments (mental and physical) to get over the hump and conquer Djokovic, as Djokovic did to Nadal. Can Murray do it – Yes. Will he – it’s going to be interesting. BTW Nice poetry one again Gans )

  • Scoop Malinowski · February 8, 2012 at 12:43 pm

    Andrew I’m with you on the Murray idea, he is the best hope to be the one to overtake Djokovic, he has more upside and the better chance than Rafa and Fed. And yes some new players will arise to become threats, all the ones you mention and Dimitrov, Dolgo and even some others who haven’t yet formed. Kuerten is a great example of a guy who surprised the tennis world. Guga told me just a year or two before he won the FO he was having trouble getting funding by an investor who thought he was too skinny and too weak to invest in his career. Guga certainly came out of nowhere that year he did so well in Davis Cup and then later won the FO. Hopefully there will be some more Guga’s popping up who spice up the ATP elite level.

  • Scoop Malinowski · February 8, 2012 at 12:45 pm

    Jean don’t they say “Love is blind” and “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder”? ) One thing is for sure Djokovic is a grounded, charming and humorous young man who has a lot going for him.

  • Gans · February 8, 2012 at 6:52 pm

    If there is nothing beautiful about Djokovic, that’s only because he is handsome! 🙂

  • Gans · February 8, 2012 at 6:57 pm

    Thanks, Scoop. I am glad you liked my poem!

    “Ganspeare”- you made my day! 🙂

  • Andrew Miller · February 9, 2012 at 3:47 am

    As for Djokovic’s looks, here’s what I would say: players look different in person than they do on TV. Djokovic in person is lanky and carries himself confidently, and from what we’ve all seen he has charisma to spare (and some serious cash flow). So let’s just say that Ristic likes him for who he is. For a player who’s had Wozniaki and Sharapova in his player’s box, I’d wager that when it comes to the femme fatales of the world that Djokovic is better than handsome – he’s a guy everyone wants to be around. Judging from the female players that like him (I haven’t heard of any that don’t – he doesn’t scare away female players like Rios and Ivanisevic did with their pig-headed commentary), and the “talent” in his player’s box that are into the tennis but who don’t seem to come “from tennis”, signs point to Djokovic doing well “on and off the court”.

  • Mitch · February 9, 2012 at 7:15 pm

    Can’t hurt that Djokovic is and probably has been the biggest celebrity in Serbia for the past few years.

  • Scoop Malinowski · February 10, 2012 at 2:47 pm

    Djokovic is simply “The Man” in Serbia and also he is “The Man” in pro tennis. He’s taken over the sport of tennis and put his nation on the map, so to speak. He has a lot going for him and is doing it with class and flair and in his own entertaining way.

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