© Ella Ling

Miami 2012 - Novak 2

Top 10 tennis nicknames


Feliciano Lopez was given this nickname by Andy Murray’s mother, Judy. During the 2011 Wimbledon Championships, it was revealed that Judy had the hots for the Spaniard and had given him an apt nickname. Andy then reported that when practicing with Feliciano prior to Wimbledon he said “Feli, my Mum thinks you’re beautiful”. Judy, suddenly red-faced, scampered away from the scene.

The Scud
‘A Scud is a series of tactical ballistic, surface-to-surface missiles’. This is the definition of the warhead developed by the Soviet Union, however, it is also a perfect description of Aussie Mark Philippoussis’ serve, hence how he gained this nickname.

Bjorn Borg’s unrivalled calmness on court could make whale music seem like the London Underground at rush hour. When combining this with his dynamo-esque fitness, the Swede earned himself the nickname ‘Iceman’. John McEnroe described Borg by saying: “He had this incredible aura that I can’t explain, without having to do anything.”

Novak Djokovic is not just the best player in the world; he is arguably the funniest too. From his impersonations of fellow professionals first seen at Flushing Meadows in 2007 and his interview appearance dressed as Maria Sharapova, to his on-court dance moves and continuous pranks, the Serb is most definitely the ‘Djoker’ on tour.

John McEnroe’s regular tantrums and outbursts berating officials across the globe saw the British press label him as ‘Superbrat’. Due to his infamous rages, McEnroe was not given honorary membership to the All England Club after winning his first title at SW19, something that is normally awarded immediately. The brattish American retaliated by not attending the Champions Ball and told the press: “I wanted to spend (the evening) with my family and friends and the people who had supported me, not a bunch of stiffs who are 70-80 years old, telling you that you’re acting like a jerk.”

The Magician
Fabrice Santoro played a record 70 singles grand slam tournaments. However, it was not the Frenchman’s longevity that earned him his nickname, rather his unique style. Playing with two hands off both sides, he could produce spins and slices on the ball that hadn’t been seen before. Roger Federer stated Santoro as one of his favourite opponents as it was so different to playing anyone else. A real crowd-pleaser.

The Little Beast
Brad Gilbert is responsible for many a tennis nickname, this one included. David Ferrer is known for his fighting qualities, speed across the court and ability to retrieve the ball, which has also given him the alternative nickname of ‘The Wall’. He is rarely mentioned as a contender for the major tournaments, but ‘The Little Beast’ is right on the big four’s tails and ready to bite, as Rafael Nadal found out at the 2011 Australian Open.

Dr Ivo
Another Gilbertism, the ATP Tour’s tallest player, Ivo Karlovic has reportedly been given this nickname after the Austin Powers character, Dr Evil. However, his enormous power on serve and mechanical movements around the court may suggest that the nickname is derived from the Sonic the Hedgehog character Dr Ivo Robotnik. Ivo may be worthy of a Ph.D having revealed some of his thoughts on twitter: “I remember practicing with Rafa in French Open ’05 & thinking 2 myself: this guy plays good. He might reach Q or semis one day. I was right.”

The third and final Gilbertism in our list, Petra Kvitova has been given the same treatment as A-Rod (Andy Roddick), Delpo (Juan Martin Del Potro) and Aggy-Rad (Agnieszka Radwanska). With a nickname like this, the World No.2 could well be a long-lost relative of rapper, P. Diddy.

The Genius
The French No.1, Marion Bartoli has had this nickname since revealing she has an IQ of 175, 15 points greater than Albert Einstein. Bartoli says “I’m not really someone that is really telling everyone, ‘Oh, I’m so smart.’ I’m kind of hiding it. But that’s how I am, you know. It just comes naturally.” Maybe if Bartoli really put her mind to it, she’d stop her signature jigging up and down between points to conserve energy, something that may delay fatigue and stop her ‘fading out’ when taken to a third set.

  • Walter

    Well, I have to say that nicknames in the old days were much, much better:

    Two-faced Terry; Nails; Teach; Rocket; the Crocodile; Muscles; Tappy; Gorgo, Sneaky

  • Tammj

    “The Genius”, try Marion Bartaloo!  skippity, skippty, hopity, hop!

  • Kae

    Marion Bartoli = Marion Fatoli.. Thats the nickname I hear all the time.