The second-seeded Serbian advanced to the second round of the US Open on Tuesday with a 6-1, 6-0, 6-1 rout of Italy’s Paolo Lorenzi that lasted only 73 minutes.
Djokovic’s latest laugh came when he sang “Call Me Maybe” with US Olympic swim star Missy Franklin on five minutes’ notice during a pre-tournament event for children at Arthur Ashe Stadium.
He drew a standing ovation but even Djokovic admits that he will stick to tennis over singing.
“I enjoyed it. I tried even though my singing and dancing isn’t that great,” Djokovic, the defending champion, said. “It was exceptional fun. It was quite interesting. I haven’t done much of that in my career.”
The worst part for Djokovic is that, try as he might, he can’t get the rhythm out of his head as he tries to focus on defending his US Open title.
“I can’t get the song out of my head. It’s a very catchy song,” Djokovic said. “Here’s my number, so call me maybe.”
In younger days, Djokovic was known for his imitations of Sharapova and Nadal, antics that brought wild applause from night crowds at Arthur Ashe Stadium but less flattering remarks from those being mocked.
“I don’t regret anything,” Djokovic said. “I’ve done things in life that might be considered as mistakes, depending from what angle you’re analyzing those actions.
“But deep in my heart I never had any intention of hurting or insulting anybody. That’s the most important thing. The only purpose of my imitations and joking, if you want to call it that way, is to have fun and bring the smile to the people’s face.”
That clowning has been an important part of Djokovic’s life, a mix of taking seriously some aspects of his career while not letting that diminish his fun at the rest.
“It’s very important in order to embrace whatever life brings you,” he said. “We need to be professional, committed, focused on what we do. Our profession brings us a lot of success, a lot of pressure, a lot of challenges, but also a lot of joy.
“I always try to take everything from a bright, positive side.”
That includes his good fortune at discovering a love for tennis as a youth in a Serbian mountain village.
“I believe in life everything happens for a reason. It was kind of a destiny for me to be part of this sport,” Djokovic said. “I didn’t follow any family tradition because nobody ever played tennis in my family. I grew up on the mountain with skis.
“I fell in love from the first moment when I was four years old, when I saw it for the first time. I asked my father to buy me a racquet. That was it.”