Novak Djokovic slaps back at player challenging him to a kind of duel

(Photo by JOSE JORDAN/AFP via Getty Images)
(Photo by JOSE JORDAN/AFP via Getty Images) /

You have some flexibility, right? But do you really have flexibility? I’m talking about Novak Djokovic-type stretchability. He seems inhuman at times when he reaches for balls no other player could get, then uses his Inspector Gadget ability to not only get the ball on his racket but then make a shot for a freakish winner.

Turns out ATP No. 46 Matteo Arnaldi thinks he can challenge Novak Djokovic in terms of being able to stretch. Arnaldi posted a photo of himself reaching for a ball on Instagram and sent a joking message to Djokovic: “@djokernole I’m coming for U” followed by a laughing emoji.

Of course, Arnaldi’s post was done in good fun and there was no aggression to it. In fact, he was likely making fun of himself because his face in the photo looks more like, “What did I do?” instead of, “Look what I did!”

Novak Djokovic takes “challenge” from Matteo Arnaldi in stride

Still, Novak Djokovic must have been reading his Instagram shout-outs that day because he felt the need to reply to Arnaldi’s message. But he didn’t just dismiss the post as an inferior player attempting to give him a jibe. Djokovic knew what Arnaldi was doing was simply a bit of mimicry.

Novak Djokovic is well-known for his stretching routine, something he has done since he was very young. He believes that part of his ability to stay healthy late into his career is that his muscles stay loose. And who can argue with him?

Djokovic has 24 Grand Slams with a good chance of winning a few more even though at 36 years old he at the age most people who have played high-level tennis tend to slow down. Novak Djokovic is still playing at a level that few current players can match. Heck, Djokovic might only truly have one peer right now: Carlos Alcaraz.

Djokovic’s response to Arnaldi was “First, you need to be facing the net and not the wall. Then we can talk” followed by a laughing emoji. Classic and good-natured, just as the response should have been.

Djokovic and Arnaldi have never faced off in an ATP-level match. If they do, maybe they could have a stretching competition before the match.

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