Novak Djokovic Opens Up About Popularity Battle With Federer And Nadal - UBITENNIS
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Novak Djokovic Opens Up About Popularity Battle With Federer And Nadal

The world No.1 responds to claims that he is the least loved player in the prestigious Big Three of men’s tennis.

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World No.1 Novak Djokovic has played down the motion of him potentially being the least popular figure in the formidable Big Three by pledging not to ‘add fuel to the fire’.

 

Djokovic, who recently won a record eighth Australian Open title, is renowned for his loyal fanbase on the tour and has over 8.7 million followers on Twitter. However, on the court there has been times where the world’s highest ranked player has felt more like the outsider than the headline act. Last year at Wimbledon, it was noticeable that the British crowd sided more with Roger Federer in the final, who lost to the Serbian in a five-set epic.

“When the crowd is chanting ‘Roger’ I hear ‘Novak’,” Djokovic told reporters at The All England Club. “It sounds silly, but it is like that.”
“Mentally this was a different level.”
“It was probably the most demanding, mentally most demanding, match I was ever part of.
“It was a huge relief in the end. You work for, you live for these kind of matches.”

In the aftermath, it has been suggested that he lacks the ability to connect with tennis fans in a way that Federer has throughout his career. Something that is disputed. Addressing the issue at a press conference in Belgrade on Tuesday, the 32-year-old doesn’t believe he is missing any love and support on the tour.

“A lot has been written about how I am not loved,” journalist Sasa Ozmo quoted Djokovic as saying in Serbian.
“I don’t like to talk about myself, but my personal impression is that I have a lot of support and sympathy for me.
“When I play Federer or Nadal, the crowd supports them but that doesn’t mean I am hated and that I should turn the whole of the Serbian public against the world.”

During his career, Djokovic has achieved numerous milestones in the sport. He is the only player in history to win over $140 million in prize money, has claimed the year-end No.1 position five times and has won 78 ATP ATP titles, which include 17 at grand slam level.

As to his popularity, Djokovic has vowed not to focus too much on it in order to avoid it affecting his performance on the tour. He has a winning head-to-head record against both Federer and Rafael Nadal.

“Even if people don’t love me everywhere, why would I want to add fuel to the fire?” He stated.
“I don’t want to put too much attention on it, I don’t want to deal with or think about negative emotions, hatred or anger. Sometimes I get distracted, I have outbursts.
“I admit that and I am not proud of it but I am a human being that makes mistakes and I try to become better every day.
“If I invest my energy in these stories that I am not loved, that story will keep growing and why would I want that?”

Social media fanbase of the Big Three (as of 19/2/2020)

Djokovic

Nadal

Federer

Twitter

8.7M

15.7M

12.6M

Facebook

7.007M likes
6.396M followers

14.344M likes
13.955M followers

14.841M likes
14.968M followers

Instagram

6.9M

8.8M

7.3M

Olympic mission

Besides targeting a more success at the grand slams later this year, Djokovic also has his eyes set on claiming a medal at the Tokyo Olympics, which will get underway on July 25th. He is already a three-time Olympian with his best performance occurring in 2008 when he won a bronze medal in the singles competition. Four years later he narrowly missed out in fourth place and then in 2016 he lost in the first round to Juan Martin del Potro.

“It’s the biggest sports show. Everyone knows what the Olympics represent.” He said. “I had the honour of carrying the flag in 2008. In the previous two (games) I have not been to the opening ceremony, I will try to be there this year.’
“The goal is to medal and also experience the Olympic atmosphere in the Olympic Village. To have the opportunity to sit in that canteen and the best athletes of the world walk pass. Being there, talking to them, finding some additional motivation. I look forward to all that stuff.”

Djokovic is currently on track for success in Tokyo and is yet to lose a match in 2020. Besides the Australian Open, he also guided his country to victory at the ATP Cup last month. Nine out of his 13 matches played so far this season was won in straight sets.

The next test for him will be the Dubai Tennis Championships later this month, which will also feature Federer in the field. He is a four-time champion of the event, but last won it back in 2013.

“To me, every tournament is important.” Djokovic stated. “This is how people have taught me since the beginning of my career. Not to underestimate any tournament and not to save myself. I would rather not play it than play at half power. I repeat, grand slams are more important, but my goal is to be a better version of myself in every match.”

As of this week, Djokovic has a 325-point lead in the ATP rankings over second place Nadal.

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Tour Suspension Will Benefit Novak Djokovic More Than Nadal And Federer, Claims Woodbridge

The former world No.1 doubles player explains why he thinks Djokovic will benefit more than his rivals.

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Australian tennis great Todd Woodbridge believes the current suspension of tennis could have a silver lining for Novak Djokovic and his bid to claim the greatest of all time honour.

 

On Wednesday it was confirmed that all professional tennis tournaments have been suspended until at least July due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The decision came shortly after Wimbledon was forced to axe their event for the first time since 1945. Prior to the suspension, Djokovic started 2020 unbeaten by winning 18 matches in a row. During that period he guided Serbia to the ATP Cup title, won a record eighth Australian Open title and triumphed at the Dubai Tennis Championships.

Now with the tour being brought to a halt, some are speculating as to what the implications could be on the prestigious Big Three. A trio featuring Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer. Between them they have won 52 out of the last 60 grand slam tournaments.

Woodbridge believes Djokovic is in the best situation because of his age. At the age of 32 he is younger than both Nadal (33) and Federer (38). Although neither of those players are planning to retire from the sport just yet.

“Because of the uncertainty, it makes it hard to see how the three can dominate when they come back because of the age of Roger and Rafa,” Woodbridge told Yahoo Sport Australia.
“It also puts more pressure on Rafa and it changes all of those storylines that were on the table for 2020.
“For Novak, it may come at a good time in his career to actually rejuvenate him again, give him another big burst.
“So if anything, this period helps him the most.”

The biggest question mark surrounds Federer, who recently underwent knee surgery and will turn 39 in August. However, the Swiss Maestro has recently confirmed that he intends to play the 2021 season after pledging to return to the court in Halle. One of the grass-court tournaments that has been cancelled this year.

“We experience difficult times, however, we will arise from it strengthened. Already today I am glad and excited about my return to Halle next year.” He said.

Although Woodbridge believes the suspension will hinder Federer’s dream of extending his record-breaking grand slam tally of 20 titles. He last won a major at the 2018 Australian Open. However, since then Federer has only reached a grand slam final in one out of seven attempts.

“The less match play that you get in this period at that age, it’s so much harder to come back and recover once you start again.” Woodbridge explained.
“So I really think that post-2020 will be a new era of people trying to create records because it’ll have really have broken up a great period in tennis.
“It has stopped the potential, I think, of Federer winning one or two more.
“It becomes very highly unlikely for him.”

Djokovic heads the world rankings with a 370-point lead over second place Nadal. Federer is currently in fourth position behind Dominic Thiem.

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Dominic Thiem Denies Allegation He ‘Misled’ Former Coach

A war of words has broken out between the world No.3 and his former long-time mentor Gunther Bresnik.

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Dominic Thiem - Australian Open 2020 (via Twitter, @AustralianOpen)

Dominic Thiem has stated that he has no intention to publicly disclose the reason as to why he stopped working with his former coach despite recently coming under fire from him.

 

The three-time grand slam finalist has been criticised by Gunther Bresnik, who claims he was ‘misled’ by the world No.3. Bresnik was a key figure in Thiem’s team until last year. Coaching the Austrian throughout his junior and professional career for a 15-year period. He was replaced last April by former Olympic champion Nicolas Massu.

It is unclear as to what was the decisive factor behind the split of a partnership that at one staged looked solid. Thiem met Bresnik at the age of eight when his father applied to work at his academy in Vienna. Under his guidance, he won 11 out of his 15 ATP titles so far in his career.

“Becomes clearer to me with time how things went. It doesn’t make it more aesthetic. There are things I totally don’t understand: honesty, loyalty, values…there was not much left.” Journalist Jannik Schneider quoted Bresnik as saying.
“I have no big problem with it besides the fact that I was misled. You can’t do that to someone that you owe everything. His dad would be a club coach and Dominic a futures player without me.”

The comment has triggered a response from Thiem, who has blasted Bresnik’s suggestion that he wouldn’t have been able to reach the top of the sport without his help. In a statement issued to the Austrian Press Agency (APA), the 26-year-old questioned if his former coach has developed ‘delusions of grandeur.’ A term loosely used to describe a person who believes they are greater than they actually are.

“When he complains about a lack of respect, and says that I owe it all to him, and seriously suggests that I would have been a futures player without him, I have to ask whether he has developed delusions of grandeur.” Said Thiem.

As to the root of the fallout between the two, Thiem is refusing to speak publicly about what happened. Although he denied that Bresnik has been misled in any way.

“I did not part ways with him without a reason,” he stated. “Bresnik knows the reasons and at this time I won’t make them public.”

Since pairing up with Massu, Thiem has enjoyed further success of the tour. During the early stages of their collaboration he won his first Masters 1000 title in Indian Wells last year. Since then, he has gone on to claim another four ATP titles and was runner-up to Novak Djokovic at the Australian Open in January.

Thiem is the first player from his country to break into the world’s top three since Thomas Muster back in 1997.

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Grigor Dimitrov – ‘Tennis Is A Microscopic Thing In The World Right Now’

The world No.19 speaks out about how he is coping during the tour suspension.

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Former grand slam semi-finalist Grigor Dimitrov has become the latest player to urge the governing bodies of tennis to make a united decision regarding when play will resume again.

 

The ATP and WTA Tours are currently suspended until June due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Although it is likely that the suspension will be extended further with rumours that Wimbledon will be cancelled for the first time since the second world war later this week. Dimitrov’s last tournament was at the Acapulco Open in Mexico, where he reached the semi-finals before losing in straight sets to eventual champion Rafael Nadal.

“Tennis is a microscopic thing in the world right now. The ATP supervisors I’ve talked to in recent days have a variety of theories, but for the time being, we can really only guess if we’re being honest.” Tenniskafe quoted Dimitrov as saying during an interview with bTV.
“The tournaments are cancelled, but we have a big luxury in tennis – there is always next week. Yes, it is very difficult right now, you have seen the Olympics cancelled. The only thing that is at the forefront is to go through this situation we are in, and then start rebuilding. “

The world No.19 is currently residing in California during the lockdown. Describing the situation where he is as ‘more casual’ compared to other parts of the world. California is where the Indian Wells tennis tournament was set to take place earlier this month before it was cancelled.

“In my opinion all federations and players, no matter what rank they are, must come together and make a general decision. Because it’s really not easy at the moment to talk to everyone about points, tournaments, competitions … But now other things are really more important – to be safe, to be healthy and to go through this thing.” He said.

During the suspension, the 28-year-old is keeping himself busy in other ways. Recently he has signed up for an online course with Harvard Business School. Becoming the latest of a series of players to do so. He also manages to keep in touch with his fellow rivals on the tour thanks to the world of social media.

“One of the first players I wrote to was Fabio (Fognini) because he was in Italy. Everyone is on Instagram, we know everyone what they do every minute.”

When the restrictions related to the pandemic comes to an end, Dimitrov has vowed to return back to Europe as he outlines the first thing he would do.

“I just want to go back to Europe. Whether it will be in Bulgaria or in Monaco – I do not know. I certainly want to go home, gather all my relatives and just spend time together. I’ve been in the US for over a month now. As things currently look, there will certainly be another two months. Hopefully it will be faster, but I just want to go home and be with my loved ones.” He concluded.

In the fight against Covid-19 in his home country, Dimitrov has made a donation to a hospital in Haskovo. The city where he was born.

Dimitrov has started the 2020 season with a win-loss record of 7-5. Besides his run to the semifinals in Acapulco, he also reached the second round at the Australian Open and Rotterdam. He has been ranked as high as third in the world.

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