A careless ball was the downfall of Novak Djokovic at the US Open. It was long indicated that such actions by the “Djoker” would have consequences. A chronology of the mistakes.
Eight-time Australian Open winner, five-time Wimbledon title holder, plus three US successes and one French Open win. Novak Djokovic is without a doubt one of the greatest tennis players of all time. But the 33-year-old Serb’s impressive career has one drawback: he hasn’t developed into a fan favorite in 15 years at a global level. Alongside the graceful, seemingly weightless Roger Federer and accessible worker Rafael Nadal, the tenacious “Djoker” seems to many observers an intruder into the elite circle of top tennis players. One that worked its way up with a lot of elbow strength. You might do him an injustice, but the fact is that this lack of unconditional love from the fans, which has been flowing to a Federer for years, drives Djokovic – but also wears it off.
Over the years, Djokovic has repeatedly set aside this desire to be respected by everyone and eclipsed his sporting genius. Chillreport summarizes the most inglorious missteps of the world’s number one for you.
2008: US Open Quarter Finals
In the quarter-finals of the US Open 2008, the then 21-year-old Djokovic defeated the American Andy Roddick – to the dismay of the New York public. Even during the game, the audience at Arthur Ashe Stadium gave the Serbs a loud whistle and booze, but it wasn’t until he had his say in the winner’s interview that the mood really threatened to change.
Djokovic accuses Roddick of bad style for being amused by his extensive treatment breaks, which always arise when a match against the Serb is about to be decided. The “Djoker” uses his time at the microphone for a general settlement with the American public.
2013: First Round, Madrid ATP Tournament
Again, the public does not decide for Djokovic, but against him. The exuberant cheers when his opponent Grigor Dimitrov wins a rally so upset the Serb that he positions himself next to an outdoor microphone during the second part, giving the audience an elaborate adult tirade.
However, all curses do not help Djokovic: he clearly loses the duel against the Bulgarian in three sets.
2015: Fourth Round, Wimbledon
Djokovic has his back to the wall against South African Kevin Anderson. The outsider only needs one sentence to win the match. Djokovic argues, Djokovic curses – only this time he’s not attacking the audience, but a young ball girl.
The defending champion yells at the ball girl, knocks her down in front of an audience of millions. Djokovic then wins the match, and even later apologizes to his victim. However, he is losing the sympathy of the discerning Wimbledon crowd.
2016: Quarter Finals, French Open
Djokovic makes a good match against Tomas Berdych. Nevertheless, he loses his nerves – and at first hardly misses a disqualification: after a lost rally, the Serbian throws his racket away in anger – backwards. The French linesman reacts quickly and avoids the unexpected plane in time.
Djokovic officially receives a warning. “I was very lucky”, he says afterwards. There is no differentiated classification of its dangerous action. In the end, he wins the classic Roland Garros clay court for the first and only time.
2016: Preliminary Round ATP Finals
Just a few months after his failure at the French Open, Djokovic forgets once again that he is not alone in the tennis stadium: he loses a controversial tiebreaker against Dominic Thiem. The “Djoker” boils with rage, grabs the ball and hits it without attention into the audience.
After the game, which Djokovic eventually won, a journalist spoke to him about his angry outbursts. The then 29-year-old responded with a disdainful laugh and attacked the reporter. When asked if he was concerned that his behavior might have consequences sooner or later, Djokovic replied: “Sure, it could have been tight for me today. But it could have snowed in the hall too.”
2020: Adriatic Tour
Following the many ATP tournaments that have been canceled due to the corona pandemic, Djokovic launched the Adria Tour. The show tournament series takes place in front of thousands of spectators in the Serbian capital Belgrade and the Croatian coastal city of Zadar, top players such as Alexander Zverev, Grigor Dimitrov and Borna Coric mingle with the locals and celebrate drinking parties.
But for this carelessness in the middle of the pandemic, organizer Djokovic receives the ticket for the last stop in Sarajevo, Bosnia: he and his wife Jelena have been infected with the corona virus, the tour is canceled.
Dimitrov also falls ill with Covid-19, his course so threatening that he is flown to a hospital in his adopted home of Monaco. Even today, the Bulgarian tennis player has not finally recovered from the infection.
Djokovic shows no regrets about the lax handling of hygiene and distance rules on “his” Adria Tour. He hasn’t done anything wrong, he explains a few months later. “I’d do it again.”
2020: Round of 16, US Open
Opponent Pablo Carreno Busta took the break in the round of 16 in New York. Djokovic tries to channel his anger, carelessly hits the ball behind him. But the ball gains height and hits a linesman in the neck. The referee gasps, collapses. Djokovic is visibly shocked, runs to the injured person. But his condolences cannot save him from the decision: disqualification for gross unsportsmanlike conduct and injuring an umpire. Djokovic temperament, his short temper, which he laughed at in 2016, is now seriously affecting him.