Tennis With An Accent: Saša Ozmo of SportKlub in Serbia

Tennis with an accentNovak Djokovic is the king of men’s tennis after his victory at the Australian Open, and few people do a better job of covering Novak Djokovic than Saša Ozmo of SportKlub in Serbia. Tennis With An Accent welcomes Saša back to our podcast. 

Saša speaks with Saqib Ali about Djokovic and various other ATP topics in this show. Saša originally joined the TWAA podcast last June during Roland Garros. A lot has changed since then — for Djokovic and the ATP Tour as a whole. It is a great time to gain fresh insights on Djokovic during another ascendant period in a luminous and iconic career.

The conversation starts with a few brief notes about topics other than Djokovic and his Australian Open championship. Saša discusses Serbia’s win in the preliminary round of the new Davis Cup (informally known as the Pique Cup). What will this event look like? What are the important questions the Pique Cup must address in order to establish itself as a respected and durable event in the larger framework of global tennis? How do the questions surrounding the Pique Cup relate to the ATP Cup which will debut in 2020?

The discussion then shifts to Djokovic’s championship in Melbourne. Just how great did Djokovic play in the final against Rafael Nadal? Would anyone have beaten Djokovic on that night, given Nole’s level of form? 

Saša explains how the 2019 Australian Open differed from the 2018 U.S. Open. He also offers an early assessment of how Djokovic’s form will exist heading into the clay season and especially Paris for the French Open. He shares what head coach Marian Vajda will do with Djokovic when clay season arrives. 

The conversation then moves to a broader, big-picture focus by looking at the other members of the Big 3. Saša discusses the level of form Roger Federer displayed in Australia, and what he expects from Federer in the Swiss’s return to clay-court tennis this spring. The analysis of Federer segues into a side conversation about the status of the man who beat Fed in Australia, Stefanos Tsitsipas. How much of the Fed-Tsitsipas match was due to Federer’s failures, and how much of it was due to Tsitsipas’s bold play?

Tsitsipas was demolished in the Australian Open semifinals by Rafael Nadal. The show continues with Saša’s analysis of Djokovic’s chief competitor for the French Open title. What has changed about Nadal’s serve? What is his new focus under head coach Carlos Moya. Saša talked to Moya in Australia, and he shares more about Nadal’s adjusted approach. 

How is Nadal likely to perform in Paris? The big question: Should Nadal or Djokovic be viewed as the Roland Garros favorite? You know you want insights on that question, and Saša provides his own perspective, digging into the decade-long history of “Rafole” on the ATP Tour and at major tournaments. Get the history and context of the Nadal-Djokovic rivalry which will continue to be a central aspect of the 2019 tennis season and its supreme dramas.

What separates Nadal from the rest of Djokovic’s opponents in terms of how Djokovic mentally approaches each match he plays? Saša answers that question with great depth of detail and profound historical awareness.

There is more to tennis than the Big 3, and as this conversation concludes, Saša also offers commentary on Alexander Zverev. Is this a career whose trajectory offers cause for genuine concern, or is Zverev in a fundamentally good position which deserves patience from tennis fans? Saša also mentions Karen Khachanov, Denis Shapovalov, Grigor Dimitrov, Kei Nishikori, Milos Raonic, Stan Wawrinka, Nick Kyrgios, and other notable ATP players. 

Saša concludes the podcast with analysis of two other Serbian ATP players, Dusan Lajovic and Filip Krajinovic. Which of the two inspires extra optimism later this season? You might be surprised.

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