'He's doomed': Ugly truth about Novak Djokovic's French Open triumph

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·Sports Editor
·3-min read
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Novak Djokovic, pictured here with the trophy after winning the French Open.
Novak Djokovic celebrates with the trophy after winning the French Open. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

He may have edged closer to Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal's all-time record with his 19th grand slam title at the French Open, but the uncomfortable truth about Novak Djokovic remains that he will never be as universally loved as his great rivals.

Djokovic clinched his 19th major title at the French Open on Sunday to become the first man since Rod Laver in 1969 to win all four majors twice.

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His 19th grand slam title edged him to within one of Federer and Nadal's men's record of 20, and at 34 he looks destined to finish on top.

But despite his success on the court, Djokovic is a man who never fails to both unite and divide.

"Djokovic appears doomed never to be held in the same saintly esteem reserved for Roger Federer or Rafael Nadal, the undisputed 'people's champions' and tennis' go-to good guys," wrote David James of AFP on Sunday.

"There are those who see something too calculating in the Djokovic make-up, an intense, brooding presence prone to affectation and a little too 'new age'.

"A fiery temperament, a characteristic often absent from the DNA of Federer and Nadal, bubbles over too often.

"His infamous default from the US Open last year for petulantly swiping at a ball which speared into the throat of a female line judge was a snapshot of the demons that occasionally lurk inside."

Djokovic also let those demons come to the fore in his quarter-final clash with Matteo Berrettini when he angrily gesticulated towards the crowd and kicked an advertising board at courtside, which some fans labelled "disgusting" and "pathetic".

For all his good intentions, his decision to organise a series of exhibition events in the Balkans in the middle of the pandemic last year came back to bite him and only added to the criticisms.

A series of positive Covid-19 tests, including him and his wife Jelena, highlighted the recklessness of the plan.

More recently, he expressed his doubts over the vaccination program - a stance which saw him dubbed 'Novaxx'.

One of his most vocal detractors, Nick Kyrgios has accused Djokovic of a desperate need to be liked, describing the Serb's post-victory on-court "cup of love" gesture as "cringeworthy".

"However the career achievements and resolve of a player who was the first to smash through the $100 million prize money barrier cannot be doubted," wrote James.

Novak Djokovic targets historic 'golden slam'

Djokovic is now half-way in his quest of emulating Rod Laver as the second man in the Open era to achieve the calendar year 'grand slam' - but he's also out to achieve a feat even the great Australian never had a chance to accomplish.

After winning the French Open, the World No.1 is targeting the 'golden slam' - all four major titles plus Olympic singles gold in the same year.

If he was to become the first man to achieve something that only Steffi Graf managed in 1988, his two coaches Marian Vajda and Goran Ivanisevic joked on Sunday that they'd just quit the game because it sounds impossible.

Novak Djokovic, pictured here with the French Open trophy in front of the Eiffel tower.
Novak Djokovic poses with the French Open trophy in front of the Eiffel tower. (Photo by CHRISTOPHE ARCHAMBAULT/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

Yet Djokovic, who came from two sets down to beat Stefanos Tsitsipas in Sunday's Roland Garros final, shrugged: "Everything is possible.

"I've achieved some things that a lot of people thought would be not possible for me.

"Everything is possible - and I did put myself in a good position to go for the golden slam."

with agencies

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