McDonald: Djokovic Is Wonka-ing His Way To The Title

One word to describe Novak Djokovic’s US Open would be “Wonkaesque.”

The No. 1 seed is having a Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory type of Open. He’s not beating opponents, they are just disappearing.

All that’s missing are little purple guys singing (all together now), “Oompa, loompa dup a dee do.” After each retirement.

We joke, but frankly no one wants to see any players get hurt and Djokovic expressed those concerns.

“I put myself in a position again to be one match away from the finals,” Djokovic said after Jo-Wilfred Tsonga retired as the third set started with a knee injury. “As tournament progresses, I feel like I’m getting better. Of course that this Grand Slam is very unique for me. I never experienced something like this to have three retirements on the road to the semifinals.

“I can only wish all of my opponents a speedy recovery. That’s all I can do on my end. I obviously try to focus on things that I need to do; stick to the game plan. I notice Jo already midway through the second set was upholding his first serve and you could sense that something is going on.

“So I’m sure it’s not an easy situation for him to handle, playing quarterfinals and having to retire night session. But, again, it’s sport.”

You have to wonder though if the lack of work will hurt Djokovic in the next round when he takes on Gaël Monfils.

He came into the Open with an injured wrist, so the time off should help him. At the same time, these short matches and walkovers may make it difficult for him to endure a long five-setter.

“Well, I’m not going to practice for three or four hours just to feel that kind of potential for the fifth set scenario,” Djokovic said. “ Just keeping the routine as it is. I’m glad, you know, I have another two days now to work on things. You know, at this stage of the tournament and season, I think one of the most important things for a player is this freshness of the mind, of the body, and just having that right supply of substance in your body and the enduring strength that you need, the speed, the alertness.”

He’s a veteran, so there shouldn’t be too much worrying for Djokovic. The bigger concern is Monfils, who in the past never seemed to get out of his own way. He was famous for being too much a showman and not enough of a tennis player.

However, in this tournament, all of that seemed to change.

“I love watching Gaël. He’s one of the few players that I will definitely pay a ticket to watch. He’s very charismatic,” Djokovic said. “Plays with a smile. Enjoys tennis. Enjoys life. I mean, this is – well, in my eyes – what everybody is supposed to be like, whether you’re a sportsman or whatever. Bring that smile; bring that good energy. That’s why people like him.

“But also, he seems more focused at this time of his career. Especially on the hard court this year maybe he’s playing the best tennis he ever played. He’s very consistent. He hasn’t dropped a set till semis. That says a lot about the level he’s on.”

And when he plays Monfils on Friday, you bet there won’t be any Oompa Loompa song.

About the Author

Joe McDonald

Joe McDonald is the founder and former publisher of NY Sports Day. After selling to i15Media in 2020, he serves as the Editor-in-Chief and responsible for the editorial side of the publication. In the past, Joe was the managing editor of NY Sportscene magazine and assistant editor of Mets Inside Pitch. He has covered the Mets since 2004.

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