Tipsarevic, the tennis player who read "too much" (Feature)
By Sebastian Fest Mar 4, 2009, 15:33 GMT
Benidorm, Spain - 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 day.
'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 depressing.'
'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 addiction.
'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 understand.'
'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 week.