The world primary challenged the Australian authorities however Novak Djokovic misplaced his showdown. A glance again on the atypical journey of a participant like no different, adored by some, hated by many.
It was in 2016. Novak Djokovic had simply gained Roland-Garros for the primary time. We have been within the automobile taking him to the Place de la Concorde, the place he was going to current his trophy. On the way in which, a younger boy acknowledges him by way of the window. His enthusiasm is overflowing, and Novak, with out hesitation, has the automobile stopped. Selfie of use. The boy is over the moon when a girl of a sure age arrives and shouts on the champion in Serbian. Very shortly, their dialogue appears to take a profound flip. She grabs the hand of the tennis participant, who squeezes hers in flip. For lengthy seconds, nearly brow to brow, they continue to be with their eyes closed. Quiet.
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When Novak will get again within the automobile, I ask him for an evidence. Embarrassed, he exhibits the wood cross he wears round his neck earlier than replying: “She is a woman who knows the monastery of Hilandar well, in the Athos peninsula, founded by the first Serbian archbishop. I received this cross there. We talked about that. Friendly, spontaneous, not a star at all and inhabited by deep convictions on which he does not like to dwell, such is Novak Djokovic. Hence communication that is both clear and ambiguous. The one that, in Australia, damages its image a little more.
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On the pandemic, he has, from the start, displayed a very personal opinion. In June 2020, when the world is in shock, the professional tennis circuit stopped, he chooses to organize the Adria Tour, a competition bringing together eight players in the Balkans. Including him, of course. At a time when the vaccine is still only a pipe dream, he does not care about the outcry caused. In the stands, the distance is barely respected. In the evening, everyone gets together, without a mask, to party. Result: several cases of Covid, including him and his wife. However, there is no question of softening its position on vaccination: “Personally, I am opposed to it. If it becomes mandatory to travel, what will happen? I have my own opinion. Will it change at some point, I don't know. “As on a court, impossible to score a point for him… A few days before the Australian Open, the mystery still hovered: “You will see if I play it, since it is soon, so you will have your answer” , he agrees in one in every of his final interviews.
Despite his unbelievable expertise, his honest play and his good humor, the world primary annoys. Some gamers began by nicknaming him “Djokobitch”. They reproached him for giving the impression, when he was in issue, of constructing movies. Sometimes he could not breathe, typically he had abdomen aches or cramps that prevented him from operating… however, most frequently, not from successful. Since 2004, the Fair Play Trophy has awarded Roger Federer 13 occasions; Rafael Nadal, 5 occasions. Djoko? Zero.
Then appeared in 2010 a brand new age Djokovic, who solved his bodily issues because of “special” strategies. He is a sufferer of gluten intolerance. The method he discovers it makes the general public snicker. A Serbian nutritionist-acupuncturist, Igor Cetojevic, beneficial this train to him: stretch out his arm and put his hand on his stomach. Then repeat the identical train with a bit of bread in your abdomen. “Instantly, I felt much weaker,” Djokovic stated. The “loaf of bread” technique could be the important thing to his future success. He additionally eradicated tomatoes from his weight loss plan and drove the purpose dwelling just a few months later, recounting having eaten a bagel “to see”: “I felt like I had a hangover! But, in 2011, he won 41 consecutive matches, only stopped by Federer at Roland-Garros.
Since 2004, Federer has received the fair play trophy thirteen times, Nadal five times. Djoko? Never
We meet him for the first time the following winter, on the island of Richard Branson, thanks to a tournament organized by the billionaire. No stake. Or ATP points, of course. Friendly as hell, dancing on the tables, kicking the ball with those who want it, Djokovic is sometimes a little weird. Like when he refuses any bottle of too cold water. “If in doubt, he asks the waitress, bring them to me almost hot! “The cold water, he explains, diverts the blood from where I want it to be: in my muscles. »
Anyone who has seen him play knows that Djokovic is an origami capable of bending into any position to play a winning shot. We understand better why by seeing him almost all day doing stretches, helped in this by a “mysterious” machine that he refuses to let photograph. We know its menu types. At 7:30 a.m., upon waking, a glass of water, a bowl of muesli made from a mixture of nuts and sunflower seeds, a slice of fruit and a tablespoon of coconut oil. To chew very slowly. An hour later, two bottles of energy drink, plus another hydrating drink with electrolyte (minerals) if it's humid. At 10 a.m., the color of the urine is checked. At lunch, gluten-free pasta with vegetables. Then organic protein shake made of water mixed with peas. At dinner, no alcohol, no dessert. Protein with vegetables, but neither beets, nor potatoes, nor pumpkin, too rich in carbohydrates.
Insidiously, Djokovic has become a banner of the antivax cause
Even his relatives make no secret of his particularities. Thus, Boris Becker, former champion who was his coach, admits that “Novak sees things very differently from other players. He eats vegan, drinks water that is not the same as yours, sleeps in a bed that is not normal”… As for his bedding, solely his spouse might in all probability inform us. She is in tune together with her husband. Like when she shares a conspiratorial video on Instagram linking the looks of the Covid to the proliferation of… 5G.
If Novak Djokovic gives the look of being a bit “odd” in the way in which he prepares, his invincibility silences the unhappy spirits. Even when he's coached by Pepe Imaz, a former participant who based an academy in Marbella the place he teaches sport “through peace and love”, and who pours into the conspiracy principle of the Illuminati in his autobiography… A coach of tennis “apart”, with unusual recommendation: take deep breaths whereas closing your eyes.
But whoever wins is at all times proper, and the Serb is the undisputed world primary. To hold busy throughout confinement, Djokovic organizes Zoom conferences. Including a mind-blowing one with wellness guru Chervin Jafarieh. The Serbian participant loses his method in a uncommon delirium: “I have seen people who, thanks to an energetic transformation, to the power of prayer or gratitude, manage to transform the most toxic food, the most polluted, in the most curative. Because water reacts, scientists have proven it. Water molecules react to our emotions, to what is said. Can you imagine Federer making such a speech? The problem is that at least in Serbia, where he is a national hero, Djokovic wields influence. A study by The Balkans in Europe Policy Advisory Group in the fall shows that 50% of respondents “haven't any intention of getting vaccinated”, a result described by the authors as “hanging”. Insidiously, Djokovic has become a banner of the antivax cause.
Vegan and allergic to gluten but very sensitive to gurus
But the winning machine seems to be derailed. At the US Open 2020, when the title was promised to him, he threw a ball in rage which landed in the throat of a linesman. Disqualified. At the Olympics, it was his racket that flew into the stands and sealed his defeat. In the final of the US Open 2021, when he has the possibility of achieving the Grand Slam (the four major tournaments won in the same year), he breaks down, bursting into tears before the last game, and loses the match.
Novak Djokovic likes to show off. If he knows how to be humble on a court, systematically applauding his opponent's fine points, he also has a brave temperament. Which probably cost him his troubles in Australia. By stating, on his departure from Serbia, his pride at having obtained a visa exemption, he underestimated the reaction of public opinion. Especially in Melbourne, a city with a world record of two hundred and sixty-two days of confinement!
Not sure, however, that his stay in a hotel for illegal immigrants demoralized him. No one has won so much on a court after having a match point against them! Alone against the rest of the world, that's what he likes, and it's happened fifteen times – like when he meets Federer, in front of an audience that is just waiting for his defeat…
He will probably end up winning more Grand Slams than Nadal or Federer. But, in the hearts of fans, he will never be the GOAT, The Greatest Of All Times. His aura of undisputed champion remained in Melbourne in a “soiled” room as his mother described it.
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