Novak Djokovic is man tennis fans love to hate, from anti-vaxxer to his Covid-riddled Adriatic Tour and US Open DQ shame

Novak Djokovic is man tennis fans love to hate, from anti-vaxxer to his Covid-riddled Adriatic Tour and US Open DQ shame

September 7, 2020

NOVAK DJOKOVIC will go down as one of the greatest tennis players in history.

Yet he will also be remembered for his arrogant and petulant ways on and off the court.

There have been some incredible highs in his career – 17 Grand Slam titles for example – but also some major lows and plenty of controversies along the way.

As he flies home from the US Open, having been booted out for accidentally striking a line judge in the throat, the Serbian bad boy will have plenty of time to ponder his behaviour over the past nine months.


Djokovic threatened not to return to the tennis circuit if stars were required to take compulsory vaccination.

In April the world No.1 said he would consider withdrawing from events if he was forced to take any Covid-19 drug before flying.

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 travel.”

Bizarrely, in an Instagram video during lockdown, Djokovic spouted some nonsense about the ability of positive emotions to turn polluted water into healing water.


Djokovic organised an exhibition Eastern Europe tennis tour this summer – which completely ignored social-distancing measures.

There was doubles matches, crowds, piano playing on court, backstage basketball games and then limbo dancing and topless singing in a Belgrade nightclub.

The event had to be cancelled when six people, including Djokovic and his wife Jelena, directly involved in the tournament tested positive for Covid-19.


On the eve of the US Open, Djokovic quit as the head of the ATP Players Council.

The 33-year-old announced he would be forming a separate association called the Players Tennis Players Association – much to the annoyance of the Grand Slam bosses, including Wimbledon.

Rafa Nadal and Roger Federer both signed a letter condemning the breakaway union.

And Djokovic and his rebel cohorts were slammed for not including any women in their membership.


Djokovic has a history of letting his anger get the better of him.

During the 2016 French Open quarter-finals against Tomas Berdych, he came close to default after throwing his racket and nearly hitting a line judge.

During the 2016 O2 ATP Finals, he was confronted by a newspaper reporter post-match for hitting the ball into the crowds. Luckily it didn’t hit anyone.

During the 2019 Wimbledon final against Roger Federer, he smacked his racket against the umpire’s chair in frustration.

During the 2020 Australian Open, he broke protocol by touching the umpire’s foot during the final.


In an Instagram Live chat with former tennis star Maria Sharapova, Djokovic admitted to playing a Davis Cup match with a hangover.

He says he was worse for wear during a tie in Sweden shortly after claiming his first Wimbledon title in 2011.

Djokovic said: “I wasn’t supposed to play that weekend. After Friday we were already 2-0 up, so I celebrated in the evening.

“Then on Saturday I found myself on the court – put it this way, my vision of the ball was not optimal in that match.”


Djokovic has had to contend with rumours about the strength and even breakup of his family.

Most notably during the 2017 Wimbledon championship when TV commentator John McEnroe compared him with troubled golfer and serial bedroom cheater Tiger Woods.

McEnroe, the tennis legend, claimed Djokovic “had some off-court issues with the family,” adding: “That’s going to throw you. If you’re distracted you’re not the same player.

“The person that comes to mind immediately with Novak is not a tennis player, it’s actually a golfer: Tiger Woods.”

Djokovic has been married to Jelena since 2014 and they have two children.

He has always denied any problems.

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