Novak Djokovic may not be a role model, but does he want to be one?

Linda Rider

If the over assertion has some reality hooked up to it, then Novak Djokovic is the incredibly embodiment of Serbia. When the World No.1 and holder of 20 Grand Slam singles titles usually takes to the tennis court docket, it is Serbia that is taking part in against the individual across the web. It points out the close to-fanatical subsequent he enjoys in his region, with die-tough supporters refusing to believe that that he could do any erroneous.

And given that Djokovic has challenged and, lots of would say, overthrown the duopoly of the immensely well-liked Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, in other places he is usually portrayed as the inconvenient intruder or even the terrible guy, in some quarters. He has a successful head-to-head file versus his two best contemporaries but is nevertheless considered the third axis in the triumvirate.

As any scriptwriter would agree, also several very good fellas are not always excellent for a tale. One particular wants a villain, or an anti-hero at the really minimum, to inject some intrigue and jeopardy to a tale. With the a variety of controversies and unconventional theories that the Serb has been connected with – which include his refusal to get vaccinated – it’s instead simple to paint him that way.

Novak Djokovic Serbian tennis participant Novak Djokovic walks with his workforce right after landing at Dubai Airport following the Australian Federal Court docket upheld a govt conclusion to cancel his visa to perform in the Australian Open up, in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. (Reuters)

The actuality that Federer and Nadal have practically constantly behaved impeccably, in victory and defeat as nicely as overtly admiring each other, though Djokovic has generally been portrayed as a petulant star making an attempt far too challenging to be cherished has only accentuated that impression. Currently being defaulted from a Grand Slam match (2020 US Open up), organising an exhibition tour in the course of the pandemic with out any security measures, and staying deported from a country are not what most persons would don as a badge of honour. Admitting to giving incorrect info in an immigration document (all those significantly less charitable will say he lied) will not endear the Serb to these who consider him an arrogant celebrity who doesn’t want to enjoy by the procedures that many others have to.

Even on the tennis court docket, Djokovic comes throughout as somebody distinctive from the two Federer and Nadal. The Swiss star’s skill on a tennis court is blindingly clear, his shot-building capacity just about unparalleled. There is even a a great deal-celebrated posting by David Foster Wallace in The New York Times titled Roger Federer as Spiritual Knowledge. Nadal’s strength-sapping fashion makes his hard work and sweat on the court pretty much tiring to check out, but admirable in its very own way.

Djokovic, on the other hand, will come throughout as a metronome, his error-free game virtually machine-like, which tends to make it tougher for several enthusiasts to relate to. The fact that his opponents frequently sense like hitting versus a brick wall helps make his activity feel a little bit less human.

Reflection of his state

It need to be claimed that portion of the unfavourable perception about Djokovic can be attributed to his entourage, which sometimes extends to his entire region. His father Srdan Djokovic, specifically, comes throughout as a combustible and bitter character, who feels his son does not get his due inspite of his achievements on the courtroom.

The state by itself is a bit of an outlier, with a chequered history. Carved out of erstwhile Yugoslavia in the Balkan civil war, erstwhile Serbian leaders had been accused of genocide against other ethnic groups and subsequently, felt the army could of the Western powers. Djokovic grew up in a war-ravaged region with NATO bombs slipping on the empty swimming pool that he used as a tennis court. The region could nevertheless have a suspicion of mainstream suggestions emanating from the West. In numerous means, his worldview might have been framed by the conflict in the backdrop of his childhood, prompting a Serbia-versus-the-environment emotion. It may perhaps also explain the defiant crowds that thronged the Belgrade airport on Djokovic’s return from Melbourne, using selfies with him with out any fear of the virus. The pandemic could possibly as nicely not exist in Serbia.

Alternate beliefs

As significantly as his worldview goes, switching to a gluten-totally free diet regime is not the only ‘interesting’ belief Djokovic follows, nor is his opposition to vaccination. He is an adherent to what can be loosely referred to as different drugs.

“In seeking at all the files that the japanese medication, the oldest drugs in the environment, Chinese medication goes in excess of 5,000 years previous, there are diverse ways of healing, of keeping your system in shape, trying to keep your brain and soul aligned. Every person has a unique way… option medication plays an essential section in my everyday living,” he was quoted as indicating by tennisworldusa.org in 2018.

Novak Djokovic fans A supporter of Serbia’s Novak Djokovic holds a banner that reads: ”We all are Nole (Novak)” through protest in Belgrade, Serbia, Friday, Jan. 7, 2022. Various hundred folks gathered exterior Serbian parliament in a present of guidance for Serbian player Novak Djokovic as he battles the Australian legal method in an endeavor to be permitted to stay in the state and compete in the Australian Open afterwards this month. (AP Photograph/Darko Vojinovic)

It clarifies the Serb’s reluctance for elbow operation, which led to his split with Andre Agassi in 2017. Djokovic resisted going underneath the knife, believing the injuries would recover with alternate procedure. When he eventually experienced to relent, he reported he cried for three days as “every time I thought about what I did, I felt like I experienced failed myself,” he instructed The Telegraph. It also gels with his reluctance to get the vaccine versus the coronavirus.

His wife Jelena is recognised to encourage theories like 5G networks producing Covid-19. The affiliation with Spanish tennis mentor Pepe Imaz resulted in Djokovic’s gesture of turning to all four sides of the court and showing adore to the enthusiasts from his coronary heart immediately after each individual acquire. It’s a ritual that is adopted even if the crowd experienced been cheering for his opponent in the course of the match. It’s component of a visualisation strategy that aids him in large-tension predicaments and was famously utilised in the unforgettable 2019 Wimbledon ultimate in opposition to Federer, exactly where Djokovic was considered the antagonist by fans.

“When the crowd is chanting ‘Roger,’ I listen to Novak. I try to persuade myself,” he reported immediately after the match. Whatever one could possibly say about these notions, they certainly get the job done for him, generating him a superior and extra successful tennis player.

Some of the other beliefs held by the Djokovics incorporate beneficial thinking shifting the composition of foodstuff and drinking water, and 4 pyramid-like hills in a modest Bosnian town getting therapeutic powers.

He also thinks that telekinesis and telepathy are “gifts from this better get, the source, the god, regardless of what, that enables us to recognize the larger ability and increased buy in ourselves”.

His individual man

Of training course, no matter what Djokovic thinks is his personal small business, and by not acquiring vaccinated, he is only doing exercises his personal alternative. But by overtly expressing views not backed by science, he may possibly be influencing his legions of followers and supporters in the erroneous way.

All of this doesn’t automatically make Djokovic a poor human being. Many of his contemporaries on tour vouch for his helpful and caring gestures, and his many philanthropic initiatives are not talked about as a great deal as people of Federer and Nadal.

He could not engage in the Australian Open and consequently handed on an chance to crack the Grand Slam tie with his terrific rivals. It is also not distinct when he will just take to the court future, as the surging virus has necessitated much more curbs and disorders on global travel. Probably, Djokovic is banking on the pandemic abating before long so that it could be company as ahead of. Or he could be persuaded to ultimately just take the jab. Who is aware!

But anytime and anywhere he competes future, it would be exciting to notice the reception he receives from tennis followers. He is a divisive character in the world of sport, and not the form of function product many have in head. But then, he may perhaps not want to be one particular.

Nevertheless, upcoming time on courtroom, he is sure to be box office in phrases of ratings and lovers, if they are allowed in the stands in the initially position.

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