Nor did he cure tuberculosis, invent the wheel, pave the Information Superhighway, or single-handedly create the heavens and the earth in six days. To my knowledge (and I could be wrong), Mr. Djokovic was not responsible for the breaking down of Apartheid, the lifting of the Iron Curtain, or the forging of lasting peace in the Middle East.
He may, of course, have assassinated Bin Laden. No one knows quite WHAT happened there...
If you look at Belgrade over the last couple of days, however, you may come to wonder what he actually did do. He has been welcomed home from London as a hero, a national icon, someone of whom statues will surely be erected somewhere in Serbia, someone about whom elegies will be versified. The president, usurping as much of the spotlight as the cameras would allow, calls him a role model for youth of Serbia.
(If I had a hat, I might remove it at this point.)
As it turns out, he won a lot of tennis. Tennis is a sport. A game, if you will. Certainly, it must be hard to win in a game which pits a lot of very good players against a lot of other very good players. I surely could not have done it, as any of my tennis partners would aver.
Moreover, many of the youth of Serbia to whom Novak the Super-Duper is a role model could not have done so either. This is notably, or so I am told, because the state does not allocate a lot of funds for individual sports such as tennis. We pay for basketball and football. Even water polo, I guess. In this way, I suppose the president is right: he is an example of how no one will help you until you are the world's number one and then they will try to take credit for it.
But let's be happy for Novak. After all, he did win. And he is the world number one for the moment. And let's be happy for ourselves too, since we live in the same country as he does. That must confer a little greatness on Serbia and, by extension, on the rest of us who live here.
After all, had he lost, he would have skulked into Nikola Tesla without fanfare, and it might have been just another Monday night in Belgrade. No kudos for second place here. Number Two is just number two.
I am aware that I shall not be making myself a lot of friends in my adopted homeland by nay-saying the apotheosis of Novak Djokovic. But, really, enough already. No conversation in these last days has strayed far from his name. None will be clear of Novaks and Noles for at least a couple of weeks. And God help us all if he maintains the pace through Flushing Meadows.
Yesterday evening, on the eve of the great victory, my son asked me if it was normal that people were riding on the top of their cars.
No, I said. It is not.