Self-sabotaging Novak Djokovic deserves criticism, but so do others in this sorry saga | Novak Djokovic

As probably the most extraordinary days in the historical past {of professional} tennis lastly got here to an finish, uncertainty nonetheless reigned. Novak Djokovic had began Thursday at first of what would ultimately turn out to be about 10 hours of ready and questioning at passport management in Tullamarine airport in Melbourne, earlier than his visa was cancelled and deportation loomed.

He ended the day alone in an immigration lodge in Carlton. In keeping with studies from Serbia, Djokovic’s futile hopes of leaving the lodge to affix his staff had been quashed, his solely firm the bugs and the bugs beside him in his room. Exterior, his followers gathered to brandish their Serbian flags and sing Balkan folks songs into the night time.

It’s nonetheless unclear the place Djokovic goes from right here. He has appealed towards the federal authorities’s ruling on his visa and he’ll stay in Melbourne till Monday no less than, the day of his listening to, with the hope of placing this case behind him. But even when he is ready to overturn the ruling and compete for his tenth Australian Open title, this has been an undesirable, emotionally draining episode that has helped no one and has mirrored terribly on all concerned.

On the court docket, Djokovic continues to drag off magical feats. Final season, each single grand slam match appeared to yield a brand new all-time document, from clinching the document variety of weeks at No 1 to the astounding feat of securing each grand slam match and Masters 1000 occasion no less than twice. He’s the lads’s participant of the final 10 years by a mile.


But his breathless capacity on the court docket is paired together with his frequent tendency to self-sabotage. It’s typically stated about the most effective gamers that their biggest opponents are themselves but Djokovic takes it to new ranges.

He chases historical past and a record-setting 21 grand slam titles, but he’s so taken by various science that he was keen to complicate his possibilities by arriving unvaccinated at one of many world’s strictest borders. It’s hubris and it’s the single-minded self-belief that drives his tennis but that additionally so typically leads him astray.

Supporters of Novak Djokovic collect in the streets in Melbourne to protest. {Photograph}: Diego Fedele/Getty Photographs

The selections he makes spotlight the need of getting the best individuals round giving smart counsel. It’s notably notable that whereas Djokovic remained caught on the border, members of his staff strolled into Melbourne. The absurdity of this complete affair was dissected by, of all individuals, Rafael Nadal. “I believe if he needed, he can be enjoying right here in Australia with out a drawback,” he stated, shrugging.


It appears unlikely that Djokovic will take a look at this episode as a possibility to develop. As a rule, the injustices that Djokovic is perceived to have suffered have the alternative impact, solely strengthening his resolve and reaffirming the assumption that he’s one man up towards the world.

Irrespective of how this performs out, this incident is merely setting the tone for the seasons to return. On the identical day that Djokovic was flying in direction of his destiny in Melbourne, Emmanuel Macron, the president of France, was controversially revealing his plan to “piss off” unvaccinated residents. The French Open is, by the way, the following grand slam, and it’s seemingly that extra vaccine mandates are to return for the travelling group of tennis gamers, with extra selections for Djokovic and others to make because of this.

Whereas Djokovic continues to obtain scorn, all entities concerned are deserving of criticism. Over the previous few years it has turn out to be normal to see Craig Tiley, Tennis Australia’s chief govt, seem on TV to easy over controversy and promote the highest gamers. Certainly, concurrently Djokovic was flying into Melbourne, Tiley was entrance and centre reassuring the general public of the robustness of the medical panels that determined who acquired exemptions. Because the cancellation of Djokovic’s visa, Tiley has been conspicuous in his absence from the airwaves.

'They're trying to crucify him': Djokovic's father compares him to Jesus  – video‘They’re making an attempt to crucify him’: Djokovic’s father compares him to Jesus – video


Tiley’s silence displays the plain failures of Tennis Australia and the Victorian authorities, these medical exemptions permitting Djokovic to enter the match but having no impact on federal border coverage as soon as he arrived there.

Tiley revealed that of 26 candidates solely a “handful” of exemptions had been granted, a few of which at the moment are reportedly being examined extra intently.

The failures of Tennis Australia and the Victoria authorities do not absolve the federal authorities and the bickering between state and federal entities that has outlined this state of affairs. Sooner or later earlier than Djokovic arrived in Australia, the nation’s prime minister, Scott Morrison, was requested in a press convention about Djokovic’s imminent arrival; he described it as a problem for Victoria state.

A day later he swiftly modified his tune. It may moderately be concluded that it wasn’t till then that he realised the political factors to be scored from being seen to behave decisively.

Signal as much as The Recap, our weekly electronic mail of editors’ picks.

Shortly after Djokovic’s visa had been cancelled, Morrison stated: “Guidelines are guidelines, particularly on the subject of our borders. Nobody is above these guidelines.”

Satirically, one constructive facet of the incident is the elevated consideration on Morrison’s merciless border insurance policies. Even when he’s banished from the nation, Djokovic will in the end be effective. He has the sources and profile to hunt out representatives when most would have been on the primary flight residence.

There are 36 refugees at Djokovic’s Park lodge. Some have been caught in the lodge for eight years and have been handled abhorrently by the state ever since. They deserve the eye and compassion that Djokovic’s temporary keep amongst them is producing.

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