Today, tennis legend Novak Djokovic turns 33 today. Over the years, Djokovic has shown us why he should be considered one of the greatest players of the Open Era. With the way he is playing right now, it’s highly likely that he will overtake Roger Federer’s record of most Grand Slams in men’s tennis. Currently, Federer has 20, while Djoko has 17. Rafa Nadal, who is also likely to overtake Federer, is currently on 19.
But despite his success, and his never-say-die attitude (the 2019 Wimbledon final is estimate of this), Djokovic is one player we all love to hate. Whether he has fun with the match support team or the referees, it doesn’t matter. People end up remembering him for his equation with former coach Boris Becker and occasions when he abuses the crowd when they cheer the opposing player.
But why is there so much hate? Why do people love to hate Djokovic? It probably starts with his success over Roger Federer, whose fan base (which includes me) is massive. Djoko has a 27-23 record against the Swiss great and their last Grand Slam encounter which was last year’s Wimbledon final ensured that people hated Djokovic even more. To be fair to Djoko, however, Federer choked when he was serving for the match and the Serb capitalised on it.
Another thing that has annoyed people is how Djokovic has promoted his gluten-free diet. While India captain Virat Kohli used Djokovic as inspiration to change the way he eats and is fit, the general population has not been a big fan of the way Djokovic has been vocal about his diet. It’s probably due to the fact that he has said that it has improved his performance as a player and therefore his record against Federer. Or we wish. Self-proclaimed foodies, who make fun of extreme diets such as veganism, paleo-diet, keto diets, etc, have often mocked Djokovic for his eating habits. Some even claim that he deserves all the bad karma coming to him for following these diets.
While this is unfair on the man, one thing, however, that has got my goat when it comes to Djokovic is his continuous claims that a vaccine and naturopathy will help cure coronavirus. Until those statements, I had no idea that he was an anti-vaccine person before this. In an interview, he said, “Personally I am opposed to vaccination and I wouldn’t want to be forced by someone to take a vaccine in order to be able to travel,” Djokovic said in comments reported and translated Sunday by Reuters. “But if it becomes compulsory, what will happen? I will have to make a decision. I have my own thoughts about the matter, and whether those thoughts will change at some point, I don’t know.”
After facing criticism, he issued a statement 48 hours later saying that he would be open to giving vaccination ‘a shot’.
Controversies or not, we can be certain that history will be kinder to him for what he has achieved for the world of sport