Novak Djokovic dragged into ugly sportsmanship awards drama

Novak Djokovic (pictured) gestures to the crowd.
Novak Djokovic (pictured) was dragged into an ugly debate after he was excluded from the Stefan Edberg Sportsmanship awards nominees. (Getty Images)

Novak Djokovic has been dragged into a fierce debate over why he was snubbed for the Edberg Sportsmanship awards in 2022 after a stunning year. Djokovic finished off 2022 in stunning form having won Wimbledon and the ATP Finals.

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The 21-time grand slam champion faced the toughest time of his career at the beginning of the season after he was denied entry into Australia. The Serbian former World No.1 was given a three year ban from the country after attempting to enter under what was later determined to be an invalid exemption from being vaccinated against Covid-19.

This ban has now been overturned and he will be eligible to compete in 2023. However, while Djokovic has enjoyed success on the court, the Serbian was not included as part of the 11 nominees for the ATP Stefan Edberg Sportsmanship awards.

And while this perturbed Djokovic fans, tennis great Rennae Stubbs pointed out why she thinks the Wimbledon champ was excluded. Responding to a message from a fan about the snub, Stubbs praised Djokovic for his class and grace when losing.

However, she claimed he didn't make the cut because his on-court behaviour can boil over.

"Novak is not a great sport on court, he's been defaulted, broken racquets, etc. Among other things," she wrote. "He's absolutely a gracious loser, I'll give him that, but this award is for sportsmanship on and off court. So don't make this about anything but that."

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She later responded to a reply and said: "My comment was he doesn't deserve this award, period. Nothing trash about it."

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Stubbs' comments caused swift division with many pointing out some of the incredible acts of sportsmanship Djokovic has shown in 2022.

One such classy moment was when Djokovic ran over to the other side of the net to help Jannik Sinner after falling over in their Wimbledon clash.

However, in 2022, Djokovic has also seen his temperament explode.

In April, Djokovic was making his return to tennis and was playing in the Serbian Open.

Novak Djokovic (pictured) hits the net at Rolland Garros.
Novak Djokovic (pictured) let his frustration boil over in his Rolland Garros match against Rafa Nadal. (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)

During the match, Djokovic let go of his racquet when he was nowhere near the ball and it nearly hit a ballkid.

In his match against Nadal at Roland Garros, Djokovic hit the net with his racquet in frustration as he went on to lose the quarter-final.

And while Stubbs' take was met with plenty of anger, tennis icon Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert backed her. Stubbs even joked on Monday that she had 'pissed off' many Djokovic fans after her take.

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To put the award into context, Roger Federer has won the Edberg accolade 13 times. Nadal has won the award four times, which included 2021. Tennis players vote for the winner of the award.

Novak Djokovic delays Australia return

Many tennis fans in Australia were hoping to see Djokovic return in early January after his visa ban was overturned.

However he will not feature at the new United Cup, with Serbia missing out on qualifying for the mixed gender team event to take place from December 29 to January 8. On Tuesday, officials confirmed the final two countries to take part in the inaugural event will be Bulgaria and Kazakhstan.

According to reports, Djokovic didn't nominate himself to play in the event, meaning Serbia won't be a part of the $23 million tournament. Instead, Djokovic is believed to be eyeing off the Adelaide International as his starting point for the Australian summer ahead of a tilt at more grand slam glory at the year's first major.

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