Djokovic on Serbian television: 10 statements that suggest he’ll stay in tennis until at least 2024
In a wide-ranging interview with Serbian public broadcaster RTS, Novak Djokovic said that he hopes to play again in the Australian Open, that Daniil Medvedev texted him after the final in Melbourne and that he is extra motivated to perform well in Dubai
World No 1 Novak Djokovic gave an almost hour-long interview to public service broadcaster Radio Television of Serbia on Thursday evening – revealing much more about his future than he had on the BBC the day before. Evidently more relaxed, he said that he does not regret posting on Instagram that he received an exemption from the vaccination to play prior to leaving for Melbourne.
Djokovic also spoke about the reactions of his colleagues to the whole situation, admitted that it was selfish of him to do an interview with L’Equipe knowing that he was Covid-19 positive – and reiterated that he feels that there is a lot of tennis in front of him.
Here are some of the most interesting answers from the interview.
On Australia: “It will be hard to forget, but I want to come back”
“I will always remember all the nice things that happened for me in Melbourne. I had a lot of professional and personal beautiful moments there. Despite all this, I have a great connection with Australia. Results that I had in Melbourne show you how I feel when I go there.
“Everything that has happened this year was totally unexpected. It will be hard to forget, but I want to come back to Australia in the future and to play on Rod Laver Arena again.”
On the Nadal-Medvedev final: “Whoever won, I lost, right?”
“It wasn’t easy for me to watch the finals, I had to because of the circumstances at home, although I didn’t want to watch it. My wife and my son were watching. I didn’t see the whole match, we did other things around the house as well. I was neutral – whoever won, I lost, right? (laughing). I didn’t want to be emotionally involved too much, I wanted to be on the court.”
On his relationship with Medvedev: “He texted me 45 minutes after the final”
“Daniil is an extremely good guy, we have a great and respectful relationship. I think he appreciates that I practised a lot with him and helped him when he was a junior, gave him advice and answered some questions. We were on the same plane when Russia played Davis Cup in Serbia, he was very thankful for that. Our relationship keeps growing.
“He texted me 45 minutes after the finals, which surprised me. Content of the message is private, but it was supportive, both ways. He is very authentic and speaks his mind on every stage, he is not always politically correct, which many people won’t like. He reminds me of myself in that regard.”
I understand that not all people will forgive me and I understand the critics.Novak Djokovic on the interview with L’Equipe
On the interview with L’Equipe: “I was positive after Franck had landed in Belgrade”
“It was a mistake. I respect the journalist Franck (Ramella) who did the interview, he is in tennis longer than I am. We delayed that interview for some time and I found out that I was positive after he already landed in Belgrade. I had my mask on throughout the whole interview, kept physical distance. I did take my mask off for the photoshoot, but both Franck and the photographer were a few metres away from me. I admit that it was selfish what I’ve done, it was a mistake that I own. I understand that not all people will forgive me and I understand the critics.”
On his Instagram post prior to leaving for Australia: “I wanted to be transparent, I don’t regret it”
“I value honesty, it is something I’ve grown up with. I was aware that my name was mentioned in the media in the two or three months prior to that. Based on the values that I hold dearly in life, I wanted to be transparent. I don’t regret it. I don’t know if things would have been different if I hadn’t posted that. I never thought that I would have to talk about my medical records in order to play tennis.”
On his chances had he played in Melbourne: “Out of respect to Rafael Nadal who won…”
“Nothing in life is guaranteed, but considering everything, I did like my chances in Australia this year. I feel like I’m in my backyard on Rod Laver Arena. Out of respect to Rafael Nadal who won and to all the other players, I don’t dare to say that I would’ve won, but I think I had a good chance.”
On the reaction of his colleagues: “Thanks Kyrgios, thanks Cornet”
“I respect my colleagues and I understand that some of them didn’t want to speak up, and some of them criticised me or didn’t like the way I entered Australia. I just wish that they listened to my side of the story. But their position was not easy, there was so much attention on the whole saga, and they understandably wanted to talk about themselves and the tournament.
“Nick Kyrgios surprised me pleasantly, I thanked him and all of the others who stood up for me, Alize Cornet for instance. I received a lot of messages privately from some of the players, but they didn’t want to speak publicly. I understand it, the situation was complicated.”
On being called “Novax”: “Various different names…”
“I’ve been called various different names throughout my career, not just now. There are always those who support you and others who don’t. That’s all I can say.”
On vaccination: “If something changes for 0.5% in my body, I feel it”
“As an elite athlete, I want to triple-check everything that enters my body. If something changes for 0.5% in my body, I feel it. I am just cautious before making any decisions, I am taking my time and keeping my mind open. I will live with the consequences.
I stand for choice and the autonomy of every individual, that every person has the right to decide in the matter of their health.Novak Djokovic
“I stand for choice and the autonomy of every individual, that every person has the right to decide in the matter of their health. I don’t like being labelled and put in the same category with certain initiatives or movements, I never said I support any of those. I have always tried to respect everybody’s choices, I hope that people can respect mine as well.”
On the future and possibly missing more major tournaments: “I plan to be in Paris in 2024”
“I choose to focus on things I’ve already achieved and to be grateful for it. I don’t know what the future brings, I hope for the best and I feel that I still have time. Everything that has happened will affect my return in Dubai. I will try to channel all this energy, to turn it into fuel both mentally and physically. There is extra motivation, surely.
“An Olympic medal, especially gold, is always a big wish. Unfortunately, I didn’t have a chance to fight for it in the past. I plan to be in Paris in 2024. I rewound my match with Zverev in Tokyo many times, trying to figure out what went wrong. I played superbly up to that point, but I did feel I was running on fumes, both mentally and physically.”