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“One of the happiest days ever” : Djokovic’s pilgrimage during the Australian Open

Since he was made to leave Australia, Novak Djokovic has spent time in both Belgrade and numerous towns in Montenegro, trying to regain energy and restore his serenity after an 12-day saga in Melbourne

Novak Djokovic, orthodox church © Milet Basta

The question lingering on the lips of tennis fans around the world is the following: What is going to be the next move Novak Djokovic makes?

After being basically deported from Australia and unable to compete for a 10th Australian Open title, Djokovic landed in Belgrade on Monday. The world No 1 stated that he won’t be making any public comments until the Australian Open is finished, and the same goes for Djokovic’s team.

Still, being such a high profile figure, Djokovic wasn’t able to escape the public eye this week. Trying to collect his thoughts and to quiet the storm of emotions he is feeling at the moment, Novak was first spotted on the Epiphany day – 19th of January – in the Ružica Orthodox Church, near Kalemegdan, a fortress in downtown Belgrade.

“During the prayer in our church, we were joined by Novak Djokovic”

“This morning, during the prayer in our church, we were joined by Novak Djokovic. Silently, in the last row”, a post on Ružica Orthodox Church Instagram profile said.

Djokovic did spend a few hours in the Novak Tennis Center before leaving for Tivat, a small town in Montenegro which has often been his retreat, on Thursday.

On Friday, Djokovic visited Ostrog Monastery, located 50 kilometers away from the capital Podgorica. Ostrog Monastery is one of the holy places for Orthodox Christians, situated against an almost vertical background in the mountains, peaceful and with the beautiful nature surrounding.

Djokovic is often seen wearing a cross around the neck during his matches – in the last game of one of the most memorable matches of his career, his win over Rafael Nadal in Australian Open 2012 finals, Novak looked towards the sky twice and pleaded: “Please, God, please, God!”

Novak being religious, it was no wonder that during these trying times for him, he chose to seek refuge in Ostrog, a place he has previously visited on numerous occasions.

Photos, but Djokovic was able to get some peace

Many people wanted to take a photo with the world No 1, or shake his hand. Still, during his visit, Djokovic was able to get some peace as he met with Joanikije II, Metropolitan of Montenegro, and spoke to him and other monks.

“After visiting the monastery’s shrines, we spent more time with our dear guest in the dining room”, it was stated in the public announcement by Metropolitanate of Montenegro and the Littora. “We have spoken about everything that has happened lately, the tribulations Novak is going through in the last month. Metropolitan of Montenegro Joanikije wished for Novak to return to court as soon as possible, so that he can continue doing things with which he celebrated not only himself, but his people and his nation”.

Never mind the snow and the cold, this was one of the happiest days ever.

Djokovic was recorded running in one of the local parks in Montenegro, before he continued his Montenegro “pilgrimage” by visiting Žabljak and then Pljevlja, a town in the northern part of the country. Once again, he was received warmly by the locals with photos of Djokovic all over the social media.

As a token of their appreciation for everything that Djokovic has done for his nation, the residents gifted Novak a picture of Varnava, Serbian Patriarch who was born near Pljevlja.

“Never mind the snow and the cold, this was one of the happiest days ever”, the locals told us.

Djokovic is now headed back to Serbia, probably to decompress some more and to contemplate further steps in his tennis career.

As it currently stands, there is going to be a vaccine mandate for most of the biggest tournaments, so unless the situation with the pandemic changes for the better, the world No 1 is facing a difficult choice: get vaccinated or miss the opportunity to chase the 21st Grand Slam title.

Ostrog Monastery: 

Pljevlja:

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