Tennis Prose



Fred Stolle: “Djokovic Is Most Misunderstood Guy Out There”

In three decades of covering professional tennis, I’ve been privileged to meet and interview some of the greatest champions of sport. And one of my all time personal favorites is the former US and French Champion and Davis Cup hero Fred Stolle.

Why? Just because of his friendly, engaging nature. I never saw him play or win any Grand Slam titles, only appreciated his excellent work as a tennis broadcaster for ESPN in the 90s where his energy, knowledge and appreciation for players like Sampras, Agassi, Courier, Seles and all the others, would make the matches we were watching an even better experience. Fred made tennis greater. Some broadcasters seem like they’re there for themselves or some agendas. Stolle was always about the pure tennis and intelligently analyzing the match with total respect for the players and the sport. I don’t know if any tennis broadcaster ever has captured and represented that as well as Stolle.

Currently I’m working on a Vitas Gerulaitis book and Stolle coached Vitas from 1977-1983. After emailing him a recent interview I did with Johan Kriek about Vitas, Fred replied back, “Enjoyed your Johan story about the matches with Vitas. I would be honored to have a chat. Best time for me is during the week around 10am Ca. time…”

At the end of our conversation today, when he said he had to go and he said to call him anytime, I couldn’t resist to ask Fred about if he ever met Novak Djokovic and he replied with a voice tone that I could sense he adores Djokovic. “Probably the most misunderstood guy out there. I know him very well. I have a philosophy on that. When he came up – he was no. 3 behind Federer and Nadal for three or four years. Federer and Nadal have been on top for twenty years. When Novak started winning against Federer and Nadal, fans were like, ‘He can’t beat my guy.’ So they took a dislike to him. That continued all the way through. Now he’s proven himself as the best ever.”

Fred Stolle Biofile interview


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