Djokovic : “My mistakes are perhaps less forgiven in comparison to other players”
While admitting that it gets to him, Djokovic says he has made his peace with being treated differently in the media and vows that he will continue to express his opinions openly
Last year was not an easy one for Novak Djokovic in terms of all the public criticism directed his way. His team and his supporters do think that the world No 1 receives different treatment in some parts of the media, especially when compared to his biggest rivals – Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.
During the Serbian press conference in Melbourne, a Serbian journalist pointed out that difference to the eight-time winner in Melbourne; last year, when Federer heroically overcame Tennys Sandgren while battling a groin injury, the headlines and reports emphasised just that – Federer’s heroism and genuinely unbelievable win.
Conversely, after Djokovic’s triumph over Taylor Fritz, during which he injured an abdominal muscle, those sorts of headlines were few and far between, if they existed at all.
Djokovic : “I have the power only to control that which I am doing, not that which others are writing about me.”
We asked Djokovic about his perspective on the way he is presented in the media:
“That’s like opening Pandora’s box. If we begin to discuss that, we won’t finish this evening. Presumably there are millions of different reasons,” said Djokovic, in his native language.
“Truthfully, I have mostly made peace with it. I cannot say that it doesn’t sometimes get to me – of course an injustice or an unfair portrayal by the media affects me. I am a human being, I have emotions and naturally I don’t enjoy it. I would sincerely like to have a good relationship with them, but it seems that this is not always possible. I do my best to focus on the positive things and the positive articles.”
“I have the power only to control that which I am doing, not that which others are writing about me, how they judge or criticise me. After all, that is up to them and has nothing to do with me, I can’t influence it. I’ve been on the tour now for more than 15 years and anyone who has followed tennis knows my evolution both as a player and as a person. I have never had a problem with expressing what is on my mind and that is something which some people may not like.”
“I have spoken about things which may not have been well received by some establishments, monopolies; in relation to politics within tennis for example (Djokovic is one of the founders of the PTPA – Professional Tennis Players Association, [editor note]). Basically, perhaps I antagoniae people and then those things (treatment in the media) happen”.
” I know who I am, what I am, where I am, where I’ve been and where I’m going”
After the duel with Fritz, there were even those who questioned the credibility of Djokovic’s injury, even in the face of the fact that he picked up the injury at a point in the match when he was leading by two sets to love. Djokovic says he is aware of such a relationship, but that he doesn’t allow it to break his spirit.
“Nobody in the media can break my spirit, for my connection with my own soul and consciousness is deeper than any news that is written about me and any sort of public criticism. I know who I am, what I am, where I am, where I’ve been and where I’m going – I proudly point all that out. I am able to be grateful, I am able to put my hands up and apologise when I have made a mistake, but yes, my mistakes are perhaps less forgiven in the public in comparison to other players and sports stars.”
Djokovic agrees that sometimes, he feels there is an agenda against him, but emphasises that he is always willing to openly discuss and answer any questions put to him.
“Of course it hurts when baseless criticism is fired your way and when you’re treated differently, but in a way, that is the path I have chosen. As I mentioned, I find fault with and call out people and groups that most likely want to maintain the status quo in which they can reap the benefits in various ways, and that is something that I stand against. That is that”.
With his victory over Raonic in the fourth round, Djokovic picked up his 300th win in Grand Slam tournaments, and awaiting him in the quarter-finals is Alexander Zverev, in a match most likely to be played on Tuesday morning, Central European time.