Novak Djokovic came at a bad time for him. He was just past the dominance of Roger Federer and the rise of Rafael Nadal. Neither Nadal nor Federer stir drama and are basically saints. At least, in the eyes of many tennis fans, they are. There is zero wrong with Nadal or Federer, but there isn’t much wrong with Novak Djokovic either.
Djokovic, though, has never been as beloved as Federer or Nadal, however. Some might point to Djokovic’s stance on being vaccinated, but most people formed their opinions about the Serb well before COVID affected the world. Novak Djokovic simply is not as well-liked as Djokovic or Federer.
Speaking recently with Sky Sports, former WTA number 4 Johanna Konta addressed the issue of Djokovic’s popularity as well. And Konta answered the topic by speaking plainly, “…people like to jump on a bandwagon when they hate on someone just because that’s what you do, so I do think he’s fallen in this space of people don’t like Djokovic because it’s trendy.”
Disliking Novak Djokovic seems silly
Konta points out that when Federer, especially, was beginning to bring great attention back to tennis, that was just when the sport needed the attention. Tennis had dipped in world popularity and needed someone with the excellence of Federer. But Federer also needed a rival and that turned out to be Nadal.
In a way, it’s miraculous that Nadal wasn’t the one that was disliked. Federer is so good with people and giving in his time off the court that people wanted him to succeed. But Nadal was even a bit more charismatic but also respectful of Federer. The two grew the tennis audience worldwide.
Novak Djokovic interrupted their run atop the ATP rankings and in Grand Slam wins, though. He was a bit of an intruder, but also a bit more outspoken than the Swiss or the Spaniard. That ruffled some proverbial feathers for no real reason.
But Konta rightfully points out that people do not really know Djokovic. They also don’t know Nadal and Federer. How could people? We know them only as tennis players and some of the things they do off the court. We do not know them personally.
It speaks volumes about all three, but especially Novak Djokovic, that their fellow players also seem to like them. Players see each other in the locker room and form bonds or make small talk. If Djokovic was really an issue as a person, we would know about it from the other players on the ATP tour.
But Knota is right. Sometimes people just like to hate. That’s a shame. Because Federer, Nadal, nor Djokovic deserve people’s hate.