On May 22, one of the brightest athletes of our time, Serbian tennis player Novak Djokovic, celebrates his 36th birthday. On the eve of the upcoming holidays, the 22-time TBSH champion failed to give himself a gift, losing unexpectedly this week to Denmark’s Holger Rune in the quarterfinals of the Rome Masters. What has been going on lately in the life of the famous Serb?
Successful start to the season and failures on the ground
Novak kicked off 2023 with a not-so-easy win at the Australian Open. During the tournament, the Belgrade native experienced health problems but managed to break a number of records: he won the 10th anniversary Australian Major and caught up with Rafael Nadal in the number of titles at TSH. Now two tennis heroes of this century have 22 slam titles each.
Then Djokovic took a break, which was associated not only with recovery after the difficult Australian Open, but also with the inability to enter the United States to participate in tournaments (yes, in America at that time the rules for unvaccinated of COVID-19 were still valid). The time has come for him to return to competitive practice in the unpaved “thousand” in Monte Carlo. Before the start, one of the representatives of the “Big Three” said that he is now very selective in the choice of tournaments, speaking only where he wants to reach the top of his form.
“I choose tournaments where I want to reach the top of my form.” Djokovic is back after a month-long hiatus
The spring part of the season segment on the clay surface did not work out for Novak. In Monte Carlo, he only reached the 1/8 final, where he lost to Lorenzo Musetti, and in Banja Luka he lost sensationally to his compatriot Dusan Lajovic. The problems already appeared in Monaco. Media representatives reported that in training with Matteo Berrettini, the Serb literally writhed in pain after a few blows. As a result, the 22-time Slams champion entered the fight with Musetti, who subsequently missed, in a special holding sleeve on his right arm.
“To be honest, the feeling after a match like that is terrible. But I congratulate you. He was stable in important episodes, that’s all. This is all I can say. Good luck to him. I can’t say more. I’m fine, everything is fine. Kudos to him. We’re going forward.
I don’t consider it a disaster, but I’m in a bad mood because I lost. That’s all. Congratulations opponent. I’m moving on. I didn’t have the best day so I’m not in the mood to talk,” Djokovic said at the post-match press conference with Lorenzo.
As a result, at the next tournament in Bosnia, the eminent tennis player played the first match in the same heat, and lost in the second without him. Djokovic then withdrew from the Madrid Masters, officially due to an elbow injury.
“Thousand” in Rome (one of Novak’s favorite tournaments, he won it six times), the Serb also played unsatisfactorily for himself, reaching only the quarterfinal stage. For a player with the highest ambitions, the second straight loss to the young talent Rune can hurt his ego. This is how the Serb himself assessed the ruling in this match.
Tantrums and drama in Rome! Danish prodigy Rune pulls Djokovic out of Masters draw again
“Probably, I have never played in such a cold and wet Rome. I don’t remember it raining so many days in a row. In such conditions, it is very difficult to break through it. It’s very fast, it reads the game perfectly. Very talented, dynamic and versatile player. Today was better. Most of the game he played better than me. And I started the third set badly. At this point, the match turned in his favor. He held his nerves and deservedly won,” said the six-time champion of the competition in the Italian capital at the post-match press conference.
Novak Djokovic at a press conference
Photo: Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images
It is worth noting that since 2007, Djokovic has definitely reached the 1/4 final in the Italian capital: he has won the title six times, lost the same number in the final, and once lost in the 1/2 final. But it is unlikely that the Serb will be satisfied with the fact that he walked in a suitable tournament this year in the lower limit of his results. After all, it was worse only in 2006, when the young Serb, then only 18 years old, took 67th place in the men’s world ranking table and lost in the final qualifying round to Fabio Fognini.
Sale of tennis center and charity match
Against the background of the troubles that occurred in Rome, the fans of their idol were shocked by another piece of news: the athlete closed his tennis center in Belgrade for unknown reasons. Tara 2016, owned by the 22-time Grand Slam champion and his wife Elena his, has decided to return the land and facilities that previously housed the Novak Tennis Center to the Belgrade authorities.
“We made this difficult decision for a long time: after 10 years to stop the work and return control of the land and facilities to the city. Tens of thousands of children formed in this place. We have hosted seven international ATP tournaments here, one WTA tournament, and received top marks for organization. We are proud of it. The board of directors of our company will focus on new projects, some of which will continue to focus on the development of tennis for children and youth. The public will be informed of this in a timely manner,” the company said in a statement.
But Novak is not discouraged. It was recently revealed that a Big-3 representative will play in the 2023 world star soccer match against Formula 1 star Charles Leclerc. The traditional World Stars charity football match featuring celebrities and sports stars will take place on May 23, shortly before the Formula 1 Grand Prix in Monaco. The Serb will play for the All-Star Team alongside world champion water skier Lisa Battaglia and former footballers Flavio Roma, Frederic Dehu, Claude Puel, Sebastien Perez, Greg Campi. Djokovic will face Formula 1 star Charles Leclerc (Ferrari), who will be joined by his friends Pierre Gasly (Alpin), Carlos Sainz (Ferrari), Fernando Alonso (Aston Martin) and many more.
At the same time, Novak’s love of sports is not limited to his personal involvement in various activities. In mid-May, the first racket in the world decided to support Milan in the Champions League semifinal match with Inter as a “simple” fan. The Serbian was present at the San Siro stadium (Giuseppe Meazza) during the rival’s first match at this stage, vehemently supporting the Rossoneri.
“Hello Novak Djokovic,” the Milan press office captioned a photo of Djokovic.
Djokovic backs Milan in the Champions League semi-final against Inter
Photo: AC Milan
At the same time, football-related news around the ATP world ranking leader continued in the Apennines and beyond. Roma head coach José Mourinho, after watching Novak’s opening match at the Rome Masters tournament, approached the player for an autograph. The moment was caught on camera. Mourinho asked Djokovic to sign his baseball cap. After Novak complied with the request, the legends of the sport hugged.
Jose Mourinho and Novak Djokovic
Photo: Rome tournament press service
Will the Serb’s recent excessive activity contribute to successful performances at Roland Garros 2023? Only time will give an answer to this question. The most important thing is that the Serbian, who will start playing in Paris at the age of 36, gives us his love on and off the pitch. And we just want to wish Novak good health and all kinds of victories in his life long journey!