“He Is Sensitive to Public Opinion”: Novak Djokovic Backed by Tennis Legend Amid Backlash at Australian Open 2021

Published 01/25/2021, 10:05 PM EST
Novak Djokovic of Serbia reacts during his quarter finals match against Lorenzo Sonego of Italy on day seven of the Erste Bank Open tennis tournament at Wiener Stadthalle in Vienna, Austria. (Photo by Thomas Kronsteiner/Getty Images)


World No. 1 Novak Djokovic is the man of the hour. But instead of his title-defense in Australia, the 33-year-old is making headlines for all the wrong reasons.

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Earlier, Novak requested that Tennis Australia provide better quarantine conditions to tennis players facing the 14-day lockdown. However, the news picked up instantly and claimed that the Serbian was misusing his privilege.

Now, former World No. 1 Jim Courier has spoken on the Serb’s behalf. “Novak has gone out of his way to stand up for other players in Australia,” Courier said.

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Novak Djokovic of Serbia reacts in his men’s final match against Diego Schwartzman of Argentina during day eight of the Internazionali BNL d’Italia at Foro Italico in Rome, Italy. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

This is not the first time Novak has looked out for his fellow players. Last year, he founded the Professional Tennis Players Association with Vasek Pospisil, to protect the interests of players on Tour.

Moreover, the 8-time Australian Open champion issued a statement as soon as he saw his intentions being taken in the wrong sense. In the statement, he even apologized to the public despite having had good intentions.

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Given the coronavirus crisis, many believed that hosting a Grand Slam tournament was not a wise decision. And at the same time, Novak requesting leniency just opened another door for public criticism.

“He was being a leader and it just came off wrong in the public,” Jim continued. “And I hope the Australian public will give him another chance to at least explain himself.”

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – JANUARY 27: Novak Djokovic of Serbia and Rafael Nadal of Spain cross paths during a change of ends during the Men’s Singles Final match during day 14 of the 2019 Australian Open at Melbourne Park on January 27, 2019, in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Michael Dodge/Getty Images)

Similarly, the Serbian’s remarks on the removal of line-judges also caused him a backlash initially. To a certain extent, he is often construed as offending to the traditional tennis fans.

However, according to the 4-time Grand Slam champion, Novak should be admired for being able to stand alongside Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.

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“He is sensitive to public opinion,” the 50-year-old American added. “He spends energy trying to court public opinion and based on what he’s done on the court he should be a huge fan favorite; he’s just come up at a time that a lot of the fan base have decided they’re a Roger (Federer) fan or a Rafa (Nadal) fan.”

As the air clears out, the 17-time Grand Slam champion’s title defense will once again become a talking point. But this time around, he will have to battle through a hungry batch of next-generation players.

Can Novak Djokovic, winner of last the two Australian Open, make it three in a row?

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WATCH: When Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, and Others Broke Down at Australian Open

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Purav Joshi

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Purav Joshi is a Tennis author at EssentiallySports. Having a degree in Films, Television and Media Production, he guided his passion for writing and journalism into the sport of aces and rallies. With over 2 years of experience as a copywriter, Purav has authored over 500 tennis articles.

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