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Novak Djokovic has never been far from controversy throughout his career. He has won 21 Grand Slams – and suffered some contentious moments along the way. In this Australian Open alone, the Serb has lost his cool with heckling fans, used bottles with secret notes from his coaches, been accused of exaggerating his injury and now seen his dad cause a stir for posing with Russian nationalists holding a flag with Vladimir Putin’s face on it. Here, Express Sport take a look back at the controversies in Djokovic’s career so far.
Doubting of his injuries
Before their 2008 US Open quarter-final, Andy Roddick mocked the Serb by running through his list of injuries before adding: Bird flu. Anthrax. SARS. Common cough and cold.” After beating the American, Djokovic said: “Well, obviously Andy was saying I had 16 injuries last match… and obviously I don’t.”
Djokovic also suffered from a side strain on his way to winning here in 2021. After losing in five sets in the third round, Taylor Fritz said: “If he was really, really injured, he wouldn’t have kept playing.”
The other one in the Big Three
Djokovic has always been frustrated by not enjoying the same popularity as Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal. In the 2019 Wimbledon final, the Centre Court crowd chanted Federer’s name while Djovkovic’s first double fault was cheered and he was booed in the final set after protesting a line call and getting a code violation for hitting the umpire’s chair in frustration.
He said: “It’s hard to not be aware of the crowd. At times you just try to ignore it, which is quite hard. I like to transmutate it in a way: When the crowd is chanting ‘Roger’ I hear ‘Novak’. It sounds silly, but it is like that. I try to convince myself that it’s like that. It’s similar ‘Roger’ and ‘Novak!’.”
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During the pandemic in the summer of 2020, Djokovic organised a series of exhibition matches in the Balkans where social distancing was not observed – and the players were filmed dancing and embracing in a nightclub.
The Adria Tour was abandoned after Grigor Dimitrov tested positive for coronavirus – followed by Djokovic and his wife Jelena, as well as fellow players Viktor Troicki and Borna Coric.
2021 Australian Open
Djokovic caused controversy Down Under the year before his deportation by complaining about the strict quarantine conditions for players testing positive for Covid – or even contact cases. Nick Kyrgios labelled Djokovic “a tool”.
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US Open disqualification
Djokovic was sensationally disqualified from the 2020 US Open after accidentally hitting a female line judge in the throat with a ball. The Serb reacted in frustration after dropping his serve in the fourth round match against Pablo Carreno BustaThe Serb had lashed out in frustration after dropping serve in a match played on an empty Arthur Ashe Court where fans were banned due to the pandemic.
“This whole situation has left me really sad and empty,” Djokovic said in a statement. “I checked on the linesperson and the tournament told me that thank God she is feeling OK. I’m extremely sorry to have caused her such stress. So unintended. So wrong.”
The nine-time champion arrived in Australia last year on a medical exemption after refusing to be vaccinated. He provided evidence that he had contracted Covid the previous month. Amid a political storm, Djokovic was detained in a hotel for immigrants before he was deported on grounds of “health and safety”. The Government’s lawyer labelled Djokovic as “an icon for antivax groups” .
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