'Divide us further': Tennis legend blasts Novak Djokovic's rebellion

Novak Djokovic (pictured) celebrating a point at the Vienna Open.
Martina Navratilova has hit out at Novak Djokovic (pictured) over his breakaway tennis council group. (Getty Images)

Tennis legend Martina Navratilova has taken aim at Novak Djokovic after the ‘divide’ he created in the tennis world during the coronavirus pandemic.

Djokovic caused division in the tennis world only days before the US Open after announcing he was forming a breakaway Professional Tennis Players Association with Canada’s Vasek Pospisil.

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Both Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal opposed the move and called for calm during the coronavirus pandemic, which had already brought a halt to the tennis schedule for months.

Many stars opposed the breakaway group from the ATP Player Council and are still yet to sign up.

Despite winning the Western & Southern Open and heading into the US Open undefeated for the season, Djokovic defaulted out of the Grand Slam.

He then lost to Nadal in overwhelming fashion at the French Open.

This prompted Navratilova to call for Djokovic to focus on his on-court achievement, rather than a divisive breakaway.

“He (Novak Djokovic) thinks he’s doing the right thing,” Navratilova said to The Irish Times.

"Purely from a logical point of view, when you are a champion tennis player, when you commit to the sport, your energy goes into that," she added.

But the 18-time Grand Slam champ said it wasn’t the right time to make the move and it created more division.

"During Covid, you’re trying to divide us further when we should be trying to bring the game together and trying to figure out how to play tournaments without people getting sick and dying from Covid? Let’s stay with that problem rather than creating one we don’t need,” Navratilova said.

Navratilova’s criticism comes off the back of Djokovic’s heaviest defeat.

Martina Navratilova at The Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championship.
Martina Navratilova at The Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championship. (Photo by Simon Bruty/Anychance/Getty Images)

Djokovic hammered in Viena

Djokovic has suffered his heaviest defeat ever in a three-set ATP Tour match, losing 6-2 6-1 to 42nd-ranked lucky loser Lorenzo Sonego in a strangely lacklustre quarter-final performance at the Erste Bank Open in Vienna.

It was only Djokovic's third loss of the year, after being disqualified for hitting a line judge with a ball at the US Open and losing the French Open final to Rafael Nadal.

"I have done what I needed to do and why I came here. I am completely fine with today's result and looking forward to the next chapter," Djokovic said, brushing aside the loss.

"I am happy, I am pleased, I am healthy, and hopefully I can have a strong finish (at the ATP finals) in London."

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