Goran Ivanisevic has voiced a harsh opinion of non-Serb media, saying world No. 1 Balkan tennis hero Novak Djokovic has endured more than his share of abuse over the years.
Djokovic, who won his 18th Grand Slam title nine days ago at the Australian Open, has also pulled level with Roger Federer on 310 total weeks at world No. 1.
Nevertheless, Ivanisevic – co-coach of Djokovic along with Marian Vadja – told TennisMajors he believes his man gets unfairly treated on a routine basis.
He said Djokovic’s no-mask Adria Tour last June which produced a run of COVID-19 cases among players that set the tone for the rest of a virus-affected 2020 season.
“They (international media) were already going for him even before that, but last year it gave me the feeling of watching the Texas Chainsaw Massacre (horror) movie,” 2001 Wimbledon winner Ivanisevic said.
“Why is he treated like this? Probably because of his origins, the people of the Balkans have always been treated differently.
“Novak is not afraid to speak his mind or fight for causes in the ones he believes in. It seems that everyone was happy that everything that happened at the US Open happened to him.”
Djokovic has drawn criticism in recent seasons for an apparent anti-vax stance and his effort to form a breakaway players union, a concept which left rivals Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal cold.
During January quarantine in Australia, he sent a list of suggestions to tennis bosses which suggested leniency for players trapped in hotel rooms for 14 days.
He said it might be a good idea if homes with private tennis courts be made available for socially distanced training.
Djokovic was controversially DQ’d last September from the US Open fourth round after accidentally belting a lineswoman in the neck with a ball struck in anger.
But Ivanisevic stands firmly behind his employer:
“In Australia he defended his teammates and again everyone beat (criticised) Djokovic because he is the only one who dares to speak , the others remain silent.
“Nobody has been treated like Novak.”
Djokovic’s most recent palava was his Melbourne drama over an abdominal tear injury which he said might force him to quit the Grand Slam – instead he made a miracle recovery all the way to another title.
“The saddest accusation (was) to say that he was faking an injury,”Ivanisevic said.
“Why would the best player in the world invent an injury while leading a match two sets to zero? (against Taylor Fritz, third round)
“When it is another elite player who is injured, the simple act of entering the court is considered a heroic act – if Novak does it, it’s because he’s faking it.”
The Croatian coach added: “I have never met anyone like him; he is one of the most mentally tough athletes in the world.”
Main photo:- Goran Ivanisevic congratulates Novak Djokovic after winning Australian Open 2021 by – Tennis Australia/ FIONA HAMILTON