Djokovic told fans hope for him ‘not to succeed’ in backhanded ‘villain’ remark

Novak Djokovic has received an interesting assessment from one of his own rivals. John Millman explained how the Serb was actually a hero despite being seen as the villain. But Djokovic won’t be too happy knowing that plenty of tennis fans hope he won’t succeed.

Despite holding the most weeks at No 1 and being tied with Rafael Nadal for the most men’s Grand Slam titles, Djokovic has often been known for his off-court actions as much as his tennis. The world No 3 has now been defended by Millman, though he won’t enjoy being the tennis world’s typecast villain. 

The Australian pro told the real story of the man that has often caused controversy for views on vaccines and – more recently – politics. Writing for, Millman said: “For the last fifteen years Roger and Rafa, our cape donning warriors, have delighted adoring crowds.

“But for this story to work we needed an anti-hero of equal brilliance. Enter Novak Djokovic.” The former world No 33 branded Djokovic one of the games greatest players as he continued: “Over the years I’ve danced with the devil, (and he whooped me on several occasions!), but the more I danced the more I realised that our game’s most divisive player was perhaps not a villain, but a hero in disguise.”

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Millman shone a light on Djokovic’s continued contributions to the lower-ranked players and beyond. And he hoped that tennis fans would come around to see the good that the world No 3 did.

He wrote: “Whether it was being one of the first players to donate to the bushfire appeal when Australia was burning, fronting a PTPA (Players Association) to better represent players, being a UNICEF national ambassador or donating over a million euros for medical equipment during the Covid pandemic he has often taken the criticism from the media whilst helping those in need behind the scenes.

“Novak will always divide opinion. He certainly has strong beliefs and unwavering principles that might not be agreeable. For some he will always be someone we hope not to succeed. I believe in time though more people will come to realise what his colleagues already know, Novak is a hero dressed as a villain. And that was exactly what our sport needed.”

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While Djokovic’s colleagues are full of praise, the 36-year-old still won’t want to be the man that spectators are rooting against. The 22-time Grand Slam winner has often thrived in hostile environments, using any cheers against him as motivation to win matches.

But he showed just how much fan support meant to him during his 2021 US Open final defeat. The Serb was in tears before Daniil Medvedev served out the match and later said: “I felt something I never felt in my life here in New York.

“The crowd made me very special. They pleasantly surprised me. I did not expect anything, but the amount of support and energy and love I got from the crowd was something that I’ll remember forever.”

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