It’s lastly over. Novak Djokovic’s attraction of the revocation of his visa by Australia’s Immigration Minister was rejected, and the nation lastly acquired to punt his water-mutating mind elsewhere. Which implies Djokovic won’t be breaking the document for many Grand Slam titles in Melbourne, although that may come quickly sufficient, nor profitable his tenth Aussie Open (or fourth in a row). One wonders if his comfort prize of being a cultural touchstone now and the middle of heated, moronic debate shall be sufficient for him. One will get the sense that it is going to be.
You must hand it to Djokovic. When he exits a Grand Slam not too long ago he actually makes it rely. A 12 months and a half in the past he was disqualified from the US Open for cracking a linesperson with a ball that he launched in frustration over shedding a sport. A 12 months later, on the cusp of historical past and a calendar Grand Slam and with the group lastly firmly on his aspect, it grew to become an excessive amount of and he was totally crushed by Danil Medvedev within the ultimate. And now this.
Maybe this all wouldn’t have been so bizarre, irritating, and silly if Djokovic wasn’t consistently conscious of what’s being mentioned about him, how he’s being handled, and if he had any sense of the world round him. Djokovic has at all times begged for the adulation that has come to Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal, whereas he’s needed to accept principally grudging respect from tennis followers, as he’s ascended to the very prime of the sport and heights nobody else has reached. All through any run at a Grand Slam, you possibly can see him striving to be liked and pandering to the group. The salutes after wins, the determined pleas for extra noise at occasions, the fixed imploring the followers to be on his aspect. However He’ll instantly snap at them with a defiant roar when he feels followers cheering for his opponent.
It’s not clear why Djokovic by no means acquired the identical love. Maybe it was simply all used up by Nadal and Federer. Djokovic’s sport isn’t practically as accessible or inviting to observe, because it’s extra of bludgeoning of opponents than artwork. He definitely had some prickly moments each on-court and off in his youth, although a few of that was response to what different gamers had been saying about him. Djokovic ought to be liked, in that he has a singular background for a tennis participant, rising from war-torn Serbia. He confronted challenges few, if any, of the highest gamers do, and his household definitely put within the sacrifices in order that he might overcome them. He’s not a rustic membership, tennis-school robotic.
And maybe that instilled an edge in Djokovic that few have, that causes him to consistently show folks unsuitable and sneer whereas doing it, even when he tries to cowl it up with a smile after. It’s nearly definitely what’s made him the participant he’s, but additionally has saved many of the tennis world at a distance too.
And positively it performed a task in Djokovic treating the vaccine and the Australian Open’s guidelines as simply one thing else he needed to overcome. For those who squint, you possibly can see why Djokovic is protecting of his physique. His profession didn’t launch into orbit till he overcame health and stamina issues. This is similar participant who retired at this event towards Andy Roddick years in the past as a result of warmth, and Roddick certainly had thoughts about Djokovic’s bodily conditioning. Djokovic, after a food regimen and coaching change, might be one of many fittest folks on the planet.
However that triumph led to a conceit and refusal to see anything that has put him on this jackpot. Djokovic’s solutions have at all times come from inside his camp, and nothing was going to dissuade him. Not having his personal event turning right into a super-spreader occasion two years in the past, or him and his spouse catching the virus themselves after it, not something. Djokovic would by no means hear anybody else’s opinion, maybe as a result of he’s by no means been universally liked in a means he deems worthy.
However when that spills over the road from self-interest to precise hazard, then it needs to be checked. Djokovic might imagine he’s doing what’s greatest for him, as all of the far-too-loud anti-vaxxers are, however because the saying goes, “Your freedom to swing your arm stops if you hit me within the face.” Perhaps Djokovic can’t see that as a result of he feels nobody has cared about him in the best way they need to.
It’s one way or the other excellent that every one of this may for positive maintain Djokovic being as beloved because the rivals he’ll surpass quickly. That ship has sailed. He labored so exhausting for that, needed it so badly, after which acquired in his personal means of getting that as a result of he couldn’t take into consideration anybody however himself.