By Richard Pagliaro
Novak Djokovic’s passion for play emanates from his biggest fan, father Srdjan Djokovic.
The world No. 1 return to action today in Monte-Carlo sweeping Miami Open finalist Jannik Sinner 6-4, 6-2 in his first match since he stopped Daniil Medvedev to capture his record-extending ninth Australian Open championship.
Asked his reaction to his outspoken dad’s sometime controversial comments, the 18-time Grand Slam champion said he loves his father, appreciates the fact his dad has his back and accepts he can’t press the mute button on the elder Djokovic’s comments.
“I love my father. My father is greatest support that I had, especially in the early days,” Djokovic said. “But obviously I can’t affect what he says. I mean, it is what it is.
“Everyone thinks with their own head. I mean, I have to accept it and respect it. My father is a very, very passionate man. He protects me and he loves me. I know that he does it with the purest and best intentions.”
Srdjan Djokovic created international headlines last week with his claim that Roger Federer once bullied the teenage Novak Djokovic because he saw the Serbian as a threat to his supremacy.
“About 15 years ago, Federer attacked my son when he was still young, he was 18 or 19 years old,” the elder Djokovic told Serbian TV channel K1 in the unsubstantiated claim. “I knew someone would be there who would be better than him. So I said that (Federer) was a great champion, the best at the time. But as much as he is a great champion, Federer is not such a good man.”
The elder Djokovic predicted his son will break the men’s major mark of 20 Grand Slam titles held by Rafael Nadal and Federer within the next year and a half.
And the 18-time Grand Slam champion will break the Grand Slam record shared by Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer in the next year and a half, his father, Srdjan Djokovic told Kurir.rs.
“In the next year, a year and a half, he will be the best in all statistical parameters,” Srdjan Djokovic said. “And when he retires very quickly, whatever he does, whatever he does, he will be just as successful as he is in tennis. He is Serbian gold that is yet to be honed.”
In a wide-ranging interview with Kurir.rs, the elder Djokovic said God sent his son to show the world the integrity of the Serbian people.
The world No. 1 says while he he doesn’t always agree with his dad’s provocative comments and understands some statements might be baffling to some and annoying to others, he reiterated his love and support for his father.
“Maybe we all say or do things that maybe some other people get offended by that or something like that,” Novak Djokovic said. “I understand that.
“I mean, look, I still stand by my father and whatever he’s doing. We are family. Of course, I’m going to stay on his side and protect him. I can’t always agree with everything he says.”
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