2023 began in the sign of Novak Djokovic. The Serbian phenom won his tenth Australian Open by dropping just one set and reiterating that he is the best player at almost 36 years of age. The Belgrade champion showed up in Melbourne with a left hamstring injury, but his level rose exponentially from the second round on.
Nole liquidated Stefanos Tsitsipas in the final and won his 22nd Slam, thus hooking his eternal rival Rafael Nadal at the top of the all-time rankings. As if that were not enough, the ‘Djoker’ returned to the top of the ATP ranking by ousting Carlos Alcaraz from the throne after 20 weeks of reign.
During the first Major of the season, Novak ended up in the eye of the storm after his father Srdjan was immortalized in the main square of the tournament along with some Putin supporters. On the latest edition of the ‘No Challenges Remaining’ podcast, Ben Rothenberg highlighted how Serbian fans often end up putting his idol in awkward situations.
Djokovic is one of the greatest athletes of all time.
“The guy to wrap these tennis players more and more in nationalism, is obviously very strong with Novak Djokovic. I want to say that Nole Djokovic is tied to Serbian identity and Serbian national pride in a way that I don’t think any tennis player has been tied to his country before,” Rothenberg said.
“How do you see his name being projected on skyscrapers and stuff in Belgrade after he wins. And the parades and the level of fervor just for him,” she added. «You know a frankly messianic figure almost in Serbia, who came to redeem Serbia and bring them out of this dark moment that they have had, into the light, being this great champion and the greatest of all time in the sport,» he commented.
«Its alot. It all gets very, very tense and very charged,” she said. “I feel that it is worth turning down the temperature, as far as possible, for the sport.” Reflecting on the win, Petchey noted that it’s not just hard work and mental work that drives players like Djokovic to such great achievements.
«It’s worth noting that two of the most improved players in the @WTA in the last year changed their serve moves. They didn’t just work harder or work mentally. @DjokerNole also with his ball toss he had the same minimal amount of lost service games to win a Grand Slam,» Petchey wrote in his tweet.