French Open Special: Tennis stars and their quirky nicknames
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 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 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 rolandgarros.com:
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