French Open Special: Tennis stars and their quirky nicknames

Jun 06, 2015, 08:55 IST | Ayan Roy

Tennis enthusiasts... think you know your game and the stars?  But do you know that 'Nole', 'El Nino', 'Dreddy', 'Bati' and 'Showtime' performed and entertained millions at Roland Garros? Well, read on to know more...

Some people and communities are known for their penchant for doling out nicknames to their near and dear ones. Then there are those like former American President George W Bush, perhaps the most casual president in US history, who was famous for using nicknames to refer to journalists, colleagues and even counterparts, like ‘Pootie-Poot’ for Russian President Vladimir Putin.

But it’s not just politicians and regular citizens who use monikers, but even sports personalities. Journalists and fans use monikers to sometimes describe sports stars or highlight one of their ‘special’ aspects.

The French Open has come to its business end, and here are some of the stars, who are as famous and well-known by their monikers as their actual names.

Novak Djokovic, the current favourite to lift the trophy after defeating Rafael Nadal in the quarters, is known as ‘Nole’, which is a short form for Novak in Serbian. He’s also known by ‘The Serbinator’, ‘The Joker’ and ‘Djoker’.

Novak DjokovicNovak Djokovic. Pic/AFP

Nadal, who is a nine-time French Open champion, goes by ‘Rafi’, ‘Rafa’, ‘El Nino’, ‘Spain's Raging Bull’ and ‘King of Clay’. The first two are clearly gleaned from his name. Nadal's 81 clay court win streak in 2005–07 – the longest in the Open era in men's singles – clearly demonstrates that he has earned the last three.

Semi-finalist Andy Murray is called ‘Muzza’ in some quarters, UK specifically, for ‘Muzza’ is a nickname used in the UK for someone who’s called Murray.

Second seed and 2009 champion Roger Federer, who was knocked out of the French Open in the quarter-finals, is called ‘FedEx’, ‘JesusFed’, ‘King Roger’, ‘The Swiss Maestro’, ‘Federer Express’, ‘The Mighty Federer’ and ‘NinjaFed’. His Swiss compatriot Stanislas Wawrinka's nickname in the press after his triumph at the Australian Open in 2014 was ‘Stan the Man’. He was also called, ‘Stan the Teenage Farmhand’, having grown up working on his parents' farm in Lausanne, Switzerland. Then there is ‘Stanimal’. According to the ATP Media Guide, another nickname for Wawrinka is, not quite imaginatively, Stan.

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (left) and Stanislas Wawrinka pose ahead of their 2015 French Open men's semi-final match at Roland Garros in Paris on Friday. Pic/AFP

Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, who scrapped past Kei Nishikori in five sets to reach the French Open semi-finals, is also called ‘Tsunami’, ‘Smokin' Jo Willy’ and ‘Muhammad Ali of Tennis’.

His compatriot Gaël Monfils, who was dispatched out of the clay court tournament by ‘FedEx’ in the pre-quarters, is known by some as ‘Sliderman’ and also ‘La Monf’.

Maria Sharapova’s Bulgarian boyfriend, Grigor Dimitrov, a Wimbledon semifinalist last year and seeded 10th in Paris may have been stunned in the first round at Roland Garros by Jack Sock, but his pet name ‘Prime Time’ suggests it’s an anomaly.

Dimitrov’s American vanquisher – Sock – may be just 22 years old, but if he can live up to his nicknames – ‘J-Sizzle’ and 'Showtime’ – then he’s set for big deeds in the future.

Rafael NadalRafael Nadal. Pic/AFP

Another tennis star from the US, John Isner is a huge figure, standing at 6 feet and 10 inches, and is known by ‘Big John. His record of long matches also has him described as ‘Marathon Man’. Interestingly, his off-court manners earned him a unique nickname in college: ‘Grandpa’.

Here are some other pet names, according to

Nicolas Almagro is Nico

Roberto Bautista Agut is Bati

Andreas Beck is Beckes

Benjamin Becker is Benni

Julien Benneteau is Bennet

Carlos Berlocq is Charly

Dustin Brown is Dreddy (because of his hair)

Marin Cilic is Chila

Alexandr Dolgpolov is Dolgo

Fabio Fognini is Fogna

Guillermo Garcia-Lopez is Guille or Willy

David Goffin is La Goff

Alejandro Gonzalez is Gonzo

Sam Groth is Grothy

Denis Istomin is Deni

Malek Jaziri is Jazz

Steve Johnson is Stevie

Martin Klizan is Klizko

Thanasi Kokkinakis is Kokk

Andrey Kuznetsov is Andreeek

Marc Lopez is Bolet

Yen-Hsun Lu is Rendy

Paul-Henri Mathieu is Paulo

Florian Mayer is Flo

Leonardo Mayer is Leo

Marcelo Melo is Girafa

Juan Monaco is Pico

Gilles Muller is Mulles

Benoit Paire is La Tige

Edouard Roger-Vasselin is Doud

Andreas Seppi is Seppia

Gilles Simon is Gilou

Joao Souza is Feijao

Dominic Thiem is Dominator

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