Earlier this year, Ratko Mladic was arrested in Serbia for war crimes he allegedly committed during the Bosnian War. I heard about this on the radio as I was riding to work. It was on NPR on a Saturday morning, and Scott Simon gave a chilling monologue about the crimes he is accused of, especially a massacre of over 8,000 men, women, and children. Scott Simon’s tone is calm, even, almost clinical, or meditative, which only adds to the horror of the acts that he is describing. In fact, stop reading this post and listen to the clip now. Here’s the link. I can wait.
Interestingly enough, after listening to that clip, I thought of tennis. Perhaps that was not so odd, after all, the French Open was currently going on, and Rafael Nadal’s reign at Roland Garros was under threat by a Serbian tennis player, Novak Djokovic. Rafa had lost to Novak, or Nole as he is called, 4 times that year, including at two clay court tournaments in Madrid and Rome, which disturbed me, as it did most Rafa fans. But at that moment, I thought about Nole’s pride for his home country of Serbia, how he celebrated the Serbian triumph in the Davis Cup six months earlier, a triumph for the Serbian people who, less than 20 years ago, had committed the worst atrocities in Europe since the end of WWII. I felt sick.
I thought about that experience again today because Jon Wertheim tweeted “an indictment,” to use his words. The indictment is a blog post titled, “Novak Djokovic, the Dangerous Serbian Nationalist.” Here’s the link, and once again, stop reading this and go read the link. Seriously. I can wait.
The blog post, in essence, argues that “Djokovic is not a big-hearted patriot, but a dangerous nationalist whose actions are governed by his family’s narrow personal interests.” I am not a fan of Nole. I am a Rafa fan, and have been for 5 years, and unfortunately, this year being a Rafa fan and being a Nole fan are mutually exclusive. (I have a friend who’s managed to stay both a fan of Nole and a fan of Rafa this year. I don’t know how she does it.)
That being said, I don’t hate Nole. I never have. At times, I wish I could hate him, but he always wins me over. And for what it’s worth, I think that the blogger is incorrect in her assessment of Novak Djokovic. I’ll explain why tomorrow. I promise.