Legendary Australian tennis player Mark Woodforde has revealed that he once denied Novak Djokovic a wild card to the Adelaide International. Woodforde, a 16-time Grand Slam doubles champion, was once co-director of the Adelaide tournament with Peter Johnston.
One day, a young Djokovic and his coach at the time, Dejan Popovic, walked into Woodford’s office and asked him for a wild card into the main draw. After Djokovic entered the office, he told Woodforde that he should really consider giving him a wild card because he would one day be number 1 and they would always remember to have him in the tournament.
But Woodforde had to turn Djokovic away, claiming that the main draw wild cards were already reserved for Australian players. That year, Djokovic didn’t even get a wild card into the Adelaide qualifier. But in 2007, Djokovic went all the way in his Adelaide main draw debut.
16 years later, Djokovic is back in Adelaide and starting his season at the Adelaide International anew. «I was running the event with Peter Johnston and we were sitting in the office the day before qualifying started and Dejan walked in with Novak Djokovic,» Woodforde said on Nine’s Wide World of Sports.
«He introduced himself to Peter Johnston and me and said, ‘I’m happy to be here in Adelaide and I was hoping they would give me a wild card.’ Peter and I looked at each other, we had already dealt our wild cards in the main draw.
Novak said ‘because one day I’m going to be world number 1 and I think this will help me get started’ and we smiled and said ‘unfortunately we don’t have space’ Dejan, who I’ve known for many years, said: ‘He really thinks he’s going to to be number 1″, and we had to apologize and say that we had to reserve some of the wild cards for the Australians.
Djokovic beat Daniil Medvedev in the 2021 final
Novak Djokovic has an enviable record at the Australian Open, the last lasting loss at the tournament against Hyeon Chung in the fourth round in 2018. «I think Novak is the number one seed for many, many reasons.
I mean obviously one of the reasons is that he’s won the Australian Open nine times. The surface is perfect for him,» Wilander said. «When you play as Novak, he has no ups and downs. Not everyone is 100% prepared in Australia.
Some are very smart, some are not, and he’s always kind of smart. Something ready for him means he’s the favourite,» she added.