Ai yay ai, Nole. You should have just let it go. You won, dude. You won in fairly convincing style. You're the one who gets to keep playing, while A-Rod is out. You destroyed Andy's dream of winning a Slam this year. You fought through a stadium full of people who were cheering against you. That should have been enough for you. Smile, wave, walk off the court. But no. You decided to take on Andy and 20,000 people and just keep digging yourself a deep PR hole that'll take a while for you to climb out of, especially here in the States.
Nole came out and pretty much dominated the shaky Roddick, winning their quarterfinal matchup 62 63 36 76(5). Roddick basically spotted him two sets before he picked it up and played aggressively to take the third set. But serving for the set in the fourth at 54 30-Love, Roddick threw in two double faults, pushed a forehand wide, and then Nole converted the breakpoint with a beautiful topspin lob. He would go on to play a solid tiebreaker for the win.
After the match, during his on-court interview with Michael Barkkan, Nole called out Andy and the crowd said this:
“Andy was saying I have 16 injuries in last match,” Djokovic told the Arthur Ashe crowd. “Obviously I don’t.” That elicited a round of boos that Djokovic acknowledged by saying: “Yeah, right. Like it or not, it’s like that.”
Referring to the crowd, he continued: “I know they’re already against me because they think I’m faking everything. That’s not nice, anyhow, to say I have 16 injuries and I’m faking it.”
And with that, Nole left the court to a chorus of boos. Not smart, kid. Those boys at IMG are going to have to sit you down YET AGAIN to tell you how to handle yourself.
After the match, Nole apologized and tried to explain himself. Something tells me the damage has already been done:
Q. Andy, I mean, based on the comments on the court, Andy clearly upset you, angered you with some of the comments that became public. Was that a factor? How much were you angered by those comments?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Now, look, I had a very, very tough day yesterday. Physically I was feeling very exhausted and very empty. I wasn't able to practice. One of the reasons was physically that, you know, I was exhausted and the other reason was that I just mentally had a lot of pressure.
Unfortunately, Andy made a statement ‑‑ I don't think it was intentional, okay. He made a joke and it was a misunderstanding, so I don't blame it on him. Okay. I did react on the court. Maybe I reacted. Maybe I exaggerated and reacted bad in that moment. No, I apologize if I reacted like that. But this was just impulsive, you know.
I had a lot of emotions in last two days. It's not nice when you get that from media all around the world and from players, and I never needed to make any excuses in the press. I just didn't need ‑‑ because I know that what I'm doing is right, that I have all the rights to take the medical timeout, that I'm doing it just for the purpose to make my physical condition better and just that I continue playing better.
I never made medical timeout because I wanted to distract the player, the opponent, or, you know, make the result look worse, you know. And I just never did it. I didn't pay attention when I took the medical timeout. I just didn't care about it. Medical timeout is there because physiotherapist are there and doctors are there to help you out. This is what I did. I just took the medicals to help me out. Maybe the people think that I'm exaggerating with these things, but it's just ‑‑ it's nothing bad, nothing negative, because I just ‑‑ I twist my ankle, I feel bad, you know. I get the pain in the back.
I just want to make it right, you know. Andy was always nice to me when I got to the tour, so this was just a clear misunderstanding.
Q. Have you spoken to Andy in the locker room already?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yes, but this is just between us.
Q. I think maybe one of the reasons you were maybe upset is he was maybe not the only one who said that? Robredo said some things, and he sounded serious, although thinks his English is not as good?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yeah, look, Robredo had the right to say something like that if he lost, you know. Everybody has right to complain and right to say. I respect everybody's thoughts and everybody's opinion.
I never wanted to disrespect anybody. As I said, if I made ‑‑ if I exaggerated on the court today and I made maybe a mistake saying that in front of 20,000 people, you know, in his city and his favorite tournament, okay, I do apologize, but it was ‑‑ he was not bad intentions. So I just hope people understand.
Q. The crowd's attitude also strengthened you even though they were very obviously with Andy? Did that help you coming back and putting him away in four sets?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, no, nothing against the crowd. The crowd here in New York, at least I get that feeling, liked me last year, and really, I had such a fun time last year. You know, reaching the finals and they were behind me. In most of the matches I played I have not enough words to thank them. I just don't want this to happen in a bad way.
You know, we had this connection, and this year, of course, this match, I mean, I didn't expect the crowd would be behind me. It's obviously that they will be for the home player and for Andy, you know. Their biggest hope to win the US Open. This is ‑‑ this is the biggest reason.
But I just, you know, I felt bad in the end.
Q. You were saying you had so much pressure the last couple days. Why are you feeling so much pressure?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, the thing is that you know in the past, as well, I got asked from the press and not just asked, I mean, the press was the one who was, you know, saying a lot of things and maybe other players, as well, saying their opinions about my medical timeouts, that I was taking too much, and they don't believe that I'm injured enough.
So it was a little quiet now in last year or so, and now it's coming back again.
So it's not nice, really, when you are in the middle of something that you know that you're not doing wrong, you know?
I mean, to be honest, as I said before, it was never my intention to distract anybody. It was just doing for my own good, so press is a part of my life, and I mean, I always try to be nice to everybody, and I never been in any misunderstandings or any fights with any of the other players.
I would never disrespect anybody, and this is just ‑‑ it's not, you know, a way...
Q. So you feel like you deserve more respect for the person and player you were?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Look, I just ‑‑ I just think that this should be reduced. That's all.
I mean, I'm not asking for it, you know ‑‑ you guys do whatever you need to do. You do whatever you feel you need to do. But it's just that I don't want to make excuses, you know. There is a lot of players, you know, they come and they make excuses. I'm not one of them. I don't need to make excuses, you know, why is my leg injured, why is my back injured. It's not me.
Q. We can be surprised by your way of playing. One day you're limping, the other you are not limping. So can you understand that?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: No, I can't understand that. The thing is you don't understand that in the middle of the match, you are trying to get yourself the best as possible. It doesn't mean that if I'm inviting a doctor to the court or physio that I'm dying, you know?
I'm having a problem, with the ankle, okay. I felt the pain in that certain moment, and I just want to make sure that everything is all right. That's all.
I mean, and then the big story comes out of it, and then suddenly I'm a bad guy, you know.
I know, I know, I'm a Nole apologist. I just feel bad for the kid. He screwed up here royally. But you can tell from his presser that he's genuinely disappointed that it's come to this. He doesn't want to be that guy and he's confused and perplexed as to how he did. Seriously, watch his presser. You can see how contrite he is. The kid just needs to suck it up, play his game, and lay low for awhile.
As for Andy, I wish he would have taken the high road in his presser. It sounds like the two of them talked and had smoothed it out. But Andy couldn't help but continue to needle Nole:
Q. You've clearly ticked him off with comments about SARS and bird flu and everything. He took himself to bring it up in front of a stadium that booed him loudly and even Michael tried to steer it and he just kept it going. Is that a bad call on his part?
ANDY RODDICK: Well, I mean, listen, here's the deal: I mean, if you guys haven't ever seen me joke in a press conference, I'd be shocked, okay?
I think you guys know it was completely meant in jest. Listen, I had four questions from each one, I had eight questions about all the other ones. Finally after 12 questions I decided to make light of the situation and it actually stopped after that. Or it screwed me up and you guys got me out of it.
I'm willing to talk about it. I don't know if, you know ‑‑ he took it as seriously. I figure if you're going to joke and imitate other people and do the whole deal, then you should take it. Listen, if someone makes fun of me I'm most likely going to laugh. If I'm over the line I'm going to come in here and say I was ridiculous. And I was wrong. I've been the worst of it in the past. By no means am I sitting here trying to be holier than thou or anything like that. But I promise you that if somebody makes a joke about it I'll probably laugh.
I'm sorry he took it that way. There's nothing else to say. I don't think I was over the line. It wasn't my intention, and, you know, I'm sorry he felt that way. Maybe I did him a favor tonight.
Q. It was our comments back and forth, and to be honest with you, today I heard from five or six or seven people, I heard it on ESPN, I heard it on USA, those types of things have legs, whether you like it...
ANDY RODDICK: I should know better, but listen, I joke all the time. I don't think anybody in their right mind takes me serious. I think it's very clear when I give a serious answer and when I don't give a serious answer.
Maybe that part ‑‑ maybe I should know better, you know, but in my eyes it's an innocent comment. I felt that most people found it funny and I tried to build it up ‑‑ if you look at the transcript, I'm saying, I'm 3, he's 8. It's straightforward. I'm trying to build it up as like I'm the favorite. I said listen, if you want to go last 10 days or go the last 10 months, he's been the best hardcourt player. I'm throwing truthful things the whole time. If someone wants to focus in on that and use it, then by all means, but especially in Novak's case, if you're going to dish out all the stuff, then be able to take it with a smile, is the only part that I don't quite agree with.
I'm not saying Andy's wrong. I'm just saying I wish he would have just left it at "I was joking, he clearly took it seriously, and if he did then that's unfortunate", instead of carrying on with the "if dishes it, he has to take it" rubbish.
Lost in all this hoopla is Andy's performance here. He had a solid tournament given his horrible form coming into it, but despite his protestations to the opposite, I cannot think that he can be satisfied with a run to the quarterfinals at the US Open. Was it worth skipping the Olympics, Captain America? That's a question everyone will be asking.