Novak Djokovic will likely never forget this year's Monte Carlo tournament. On the good side, it was announced yesterday that the Serbian has made TIME Magazine's Top 100 most influential people list.
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According to TIME’s sports editor Bill Saporito, Djokovic went from the “the sport’s top doormat” to World No. 1 and Serbian national hero. “While he yukked it up, he also upped his training regimen and refined his exquisite baseline shotmaking. No one has a more lethal backhand down the line. He got mentally tougher too,” he wrote.
Saporito added: "And with Nadal and Federer hounding him, staying No. 1 will be difficult. But having worked for years to get there, he'll enjoy every moment of it." Djokovic was among six athletes named to the list, joining Jeremy Lin (basketball), Lionel Messi (football/soccer), Oscar Pistorious (athletics), Tim Tebow (american football) and Yani Tseng (golf).
But this morning bad news knocked on Djokovic's door. During practice, and just a few hours from the game against the ucranian Dolgopolov, Djokovic was informed that his beloved grandfather had passed away. The player left the court in tears, and everyone expected him to withdraw from the competition. But the Serbian was able to overcome his feelings and showed up to play.
Djokovic had lived with his grandfather Vladimir during the 1999 bombings in Serbia (watch the 60 minutes video we posted some weeks ago) and recognized him with having a major influence on his career and personality. After winning Thursday's third-round match, Djokovic looked into the sky, raised his hands and wept.
French channel Canal+ captured the moment in which Djokovic was confronted with the terrible news via cell phone. Our condolences, Novak!