(& scroll down to read my literary sleuthing posts)
Thanks! -- Arnie Perlstein, Portland, OR

Thursday, September 2, 2010

The "accomplishments" of Janko Tipsarevic

I don't know if any of you enjoys watching professional tennis, I am
nearly as big an addict of it as I am of Jane Austen.

Last night, Janko Tipsarevic of Serbia defeated the American Andy Roddick
in a significant upset at the US Open, which was quite an accomplishment
for Tipsarevic.

In the post-match interview, Tipsarevic was asked about his reputation as
a rarity among professional athletics, a guy who reads a lot, and not pulp
fiction either. So I became curious to know more about whether Mr. Darcy would
consider Tipsarevic to be "accomplished", and found the following 2009
article about him, which tells all about this aspect of Tipsarevic.


Reading a lot can be dangerous, and being too smart can lead a person to
unhappiness: that is why Serb tennis player-cum-intellectual Janko
Tipsarevic hit the brakes.

'I realized that I was reading too much, starting to doubt myself, life,
my profession and tennis. I stopped a bit,' Tipsarevic told Deutsche
Presse-Agentur dpa in an interview ahead of the Davis Cup tie against
Spain from Friday.

'Beauty will save the world,' says a tattoo on Tipsarevic's left arm. The
phrase from Russian author Fyodor Dostoevsky and a notable match that he
lost 10-8 in the fifth set to Roger Federer in the 2008 Australian Open
have made the Serb player famous.

However, Tipsarevic, 24, wants to stop, he wants to be considered as a
tennis player, as a man who might surprise Rafael Nadal and his team-mates
in the Davis Cup tie, and not as the sport's 'intellectual' for reading
philosophy books.

'That was a time in my life in which I was really crazy over reading
books. I still read many, but not quite that many. I think everything grew
a lot as well because of the tattoo I have, which holds an attractive
phrase and it's a story that can sound good,' he said in the eastern
Spanish Mediterranean resort town of Benidorm.

'But I don't want to make a big fuss of this or say that I am so deep, or
a philosopher. That is a part of my life, something I like doing, like
others like Play Station.'

That is precisely the key. The world of sport is generally not that much
into reading, and appears a lot more inclined to playing Play Station.

Argentine tennis legend Guillermo Vilas used to write poetry and songs in
the 1970s. But decades later his compatriot Lionel Messi - arguably the
best footballer in the world - admits to having read only one book in his
life - Argentine football great Diego Maradona's autobiography - and says
he did not even finish that.

Tipsarevic is the antithesis of Messi, even if he does not like people
talking about him as 'intelligent.'

'I am trying to avoid that, people think that I am intelligent,' he says
with a dreamy and yet tired smile.

Is he not?

'No, no, no. I'm not saying I'm not, I'm pretty normal. But I don't want
to draw attention to myself for the rest of my life because I have a
tattoo on my body.'

A fan of snowboarding and house music, Tipsarevic got into reading
Friedrich Nietzsche, Immanuel Kant and other philosophers to follow the
example of his mother, Vesna. The woman, a housewife, was left alone at
home when her children grew up, while her husband continued to work all

'She graduated in law, and there was not much to do at home, so she
started to read these books, which end up driving you a little mad... Yes,
she suffered a bit.'

'Anyone who reads philosophy knows the word means 'the search for truth.'
Many of those philosophers had painful and unpleasant lives because they
searched for truth. And the truth, in most books, is nothing, it's

'You start to wonder why you are doing this, why you pay 1,000 dollars for
a plane ticket. Am I happy? All those questions.'

Tipsarevic is now sure that 'thinking too much is not the answer.'

'Of course I would not rather be stupid. But they say being stupid is a
sort of blessing, because you don't know anything else, you don't want
anything else and you don't need anything else.'

But it is one thing to not be stupid and another to turn reading into an

'What happened to me was that I would read the same book three, four
times. I tried to read Kant, which is very difficult, and I did not
understand a thing. So I read it again. And I still did not understand a
thing. And I read it again, and again, and again. And I still did not

'I was taking books too seriously,' Tipsarevic explains.

'Now I am a little bit older than I was then, and I understand that you
should never, ever, no matter how right the author is, read a book and
completely change your life. In my opinion, you should always take small
things from a book to change life, and not let the book have a 100 per
cent influence on your life.'

With this new approach, Tipsarevic is set to stand by talented compatriot
Novak Djokovic and others as Serbia face Spain in the Davis Cup later this

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