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Friday, July 1, 2011
Win or lose, Djokovic will be No. 1

By Sandra Harwitt

Novak Djokovic may or may not win his first Wimbledon title Sunday afternoon. Regardless of what happens when he plays defending champion Rafael Nadal , Djokovic will supplant Nadal as the world's No. 1 player on Monday.

Djokovic only needed to reach the final to make the No. 1 ranking a reality. He did so with a 7-6 (4), 6-2, 6-7 (9), 6-3 semifinal win over Jo-Wilfried Tsonga on Saturday.

"I think every child has a dream to become something in his life," said Djokovic, a two-time Australian Open champion. "We live from these dreams. Obviously I had a big support of my family and people around me that allowed me to have the opportunity to reach that dream, to reach the life goal."

Djokovic admitted that at times Roger Federer and Nadal's presence appeared to be an obstacle he might not be able to conquer.

"There were times in the last two, three years where it was really difficult when I was losing most of those important matches at the later stages of the majors against those two guys," Djokovic said. "I have to say there were times when I questioned myself, but I always overcame it because the belief was so strong.''

Slobodan Zivojinovic, a former player who reached the semifinals at the Australian Open (1985) and Wimbledon (1986), watched Djokovic grow up. Zivojinovic, now President of the Serbian Tennis Federation, was one of the happiest people at Wimbledon on Friday.

"The dream of the sportsman, the tennis player, is winning the Grand Slams and being No. 1, and he reached that dream," Zivojinovic said. "I think he deserves to definitely be No. 1. Why? Because he lost only one match, so far, since December (48-1 since December 2010, 46-1 in 2011), and I think he's one of the best athletes today, not just in tennis, in all sports."

Savvy Sharapova

Maria Sharapova had a great deal of downtime when a shoulder injury that required surgery kept her off the tour from August 2008 to May 2009. That experience only highlighted to Sharapova, a three-time Grand Slam winner, she's not the type of person to sit around doing nothing.

"Well, with all the time that I had, I did a good job of keeping myself busy," Sharapova said a day before she'll play Petra Kvitova in Saturday's final. "You know, I'm still not the type of person that still likes to just sit down at the beach and do nothing. I can only do that for a couple of days, and I just get ultimately very bored."

One thing that Sharapova keeps busy with off the court is business commitments. She has an imposing list of sponsors: Nike, Head, Cole Haan, Tiffany & Co., Tag Heuer, Sony Ericsson, Evian and Clear (shampoo).

Tennis legend Billie Jean King -- who has been legendary at marketing women's tennis, women's sports and herself -- admires Sharapova's business acumen.

"She's so determined and she cares about her endorsements," King said. "I know she's read articles where a lot of people have lost endorsements and she went and told her agent, 'I want you to ask all my endorsement people, What can I do? What do they want from me because I want to do what they want.' Now, how many times does a player ever do that? She's very smart."

Sharapova clearly understands playing tennis has a short career shelf life.

"Ultimately, in my life, obviously, a big part of my life is tennis," Sharapova said. "But at the end of the day I'm not going to be playing for my whole life. Tennis can only go to a certain point in your life."