Novak Djokovic has started the season in style. The Serbian phenomenon won the ATP 250 in Adelaide and, above all, the Australian Open, leaving only one set on the street at Melbourne Park. In winning his 10th Oceania title, Nole tied his archrival Rafael Nadal for the top of the all-time Grand Slam chart.
The 35-year-old from Belgrade also regained his position in the world rankings, ending Carlos Alcaraz’s reign (which began after the 2022 US Open and lasted 20 weeks). Given Nadal’s physical condition, many believe that the Balkan can again aspire to the ‘Grand Slam of the calendar’ Goran Ivanisevic’s pupil was already close to this titanic feat in 2021, staying just one victory from the finish line.
Despite winning the Australian Open without too many difficulties, Novak ended up in the eye of the hurricane due to his left knee injury and the images of his father Srdjan together with some Putin supporters. In a lengthy interview with ‘CNN’, Mike Nakajima – who has worked for Nike for a long time – explained how Djokovic’s tendency to get involved in controversy has a negative impact on his “marketability”.
“Novak Djokovic could well be the most successful tennis player in history. But there is always a black cloud around him. It is as if he brought it on himself,” says an excerpt from the book. “He hits the linesman at the US Open and gets disqualified? These are things that happen, I guess.
But why does it always happen to Novak? Or all the controversy about the Covid-19 vaccine,” continues Nakajima. “Now, as a brand: do I want to be behind someone who always has controversy around him? Or do I prefer an athlete with an impeccable image? I’m not sure Rafa wants to be the highest-paid sponsor in the world.
I don’t think he cares,” Nakajima explains. “Rafa is Rafa, he has done very well and I don’t think he needs anything more. Roger wanted to be marketed, so he appealed to different brands, audiences, and consumer groups.”
Nole Djokovic is a true legend
Novak Djokovic is well-versed in rewriting record books.
“I started monitoring the charts before the 2023 Australian Open started,” said Trollope. “Djokovic stood fourth at 68 wins on Rod Laver Arena, and by playing and winning all 7 of his matches on the court, he is now third in the rankings with 75 victories.
He has leapfrogged Nadal in the rankings and is only two wins behind Serena Williams. That would put Novak at almost 38 years of age, so I’m not sure if that would happen. But, he looks indestructible,” the author concluded.