30 Djokovic Questions

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Graphic by James Fawcette

Bill Simons

  1. Is the Djokovic saga over? Nole said, “I hope that we can all now focus on the game and tournament I love.”
  1. Did all this really have to happen?
  1. How good will it feel to get over our Djokovic fatigue and actually be able to focus on tennis?
  1. Is tennis, as Nadal suggested, actually bigger than any one player?
  1. Has one sport ever had four more impactful back-to-back events that transcended sports? In 2020 Naomi Osaka drew attention to the need for racial justice. In 2021, she called for a greater focus on mental health issues. Last November, Peng Shuai’s disappearance became an international incident. And then there was Nole. 
  1. Has Novak, far more than Aaron Rodgers, Kyrie Irving, Eric Clapton and Robert F. Kennedy Jr., become the world’s most prominent figure opposed to vaccination?
  1. In the end, was the greater good served? James Fawcette said, “While watching the sausage get made was messy, in the end the rule of law prevailed over privilege, and the collective effort to fight a global pandemic won a small battle vs. narcissism.” Or was this a power move against a battler for individual freedom who got ensnared in an Australian political spat and the different agendas and rules of differing ruling bodies. John Isner said, “Nole always has and always will be class. He’s an absolute legend in my book that has brought so much good to millions around the world. This isn’t right.” 
  1. How will Novak’s deportation affect his legacy? Will this be what many remember him for or, in the end, will his on-court results be what matters? And how ironic is it that the debacle happened in the country, outside of Serbia, where is the most popular?  
  1. Where does “L’Affaire Djokovic” rank with other scandals and disasters such as the OJ Simpson trial, the stabbing of Monica Seles, Lance Armstrong’s drug use, Peng Shuai, Tonya Harding, Pete Rose, Aaron Hernandez, Michael Vick, Rosie Ruiz, the New England Patriots’ spygate, Diego Maradona’s Hand of God, the Chicago Black Sox?
  1. How important is locker room solidarity? Should players automatically circle the wagons to support their fellow stars, or address issues independently of the stardom they all share? While many players – Rafa Nadal, Martina Navratilova and Andy Murray – were critical of Nole, others were supportive: Nick Kyrgios, John Isner, Jimmy Connors, Alexander Zverev, Vasek Pospisil, Tennys Sandgren and France’s Alize Cornet. Speaking of Cornet, it was interesting that she kick-started tennis’ concern about Peng Shuai’s disappearance. She said tennis had to put principles over finances. As for Nole, she said, “[He] is always the first to stand for players, but none of us stood for him.”
  1. When will we hear an in-depth response from Novak? He did issue a brief statement that expressed how disappointed he was in the ruling and said he will be quiet for a while. Eventually could all this intrigue make to Hollywood and the big screen?
  1. What is the next big event Nole will play? You essentially can’t fly into America if you haven’t been vaccinated. So Indian Wells and Miami could be a problem. The French Open has signaled it will be open to non-vaccinated players? And when will Nole next play the Australian Open? He’s been automatically banned from the country for three years – but he could appeal.
  1. What kind of difference would it have made if Peng Shuai had gotten as much attention as Djokovic has?
  1. What impact will there be on Novak’s bottom line? He could have won up to $4.4 million in prize money by winning the Aussie Open. He has $30 million in sponsorships, and contracts typically have participation clauses. Novak’s sponsors include Lacoste, Peugeot and Head. 
  1. Will Nole soon lose his No. 1 ranking? By not playing, he’ll lose 2,000 points.
  1. Djokovic’s father Srdjan said, “Novak has taken 50,000 shots.” Was it the best comeback of “L’Affaire Djokovic” when a tweeter replied, “Novak just had to take two shots.” A twitter observer noted that “Novak became the first player put out of a Slam after missing just two shots.”
  1. What would have happened if the travel rule had simply been, “If you’re vaccinated you can play the Aussie Open. If not, you can’t -– no exceptions.”
  1. In the end what will have more impact on Djokovic’s career, winning three Grand Slam titles in a row in 2021 or three big recent shortfalls: being booted out of the 2020 US Open, throwing rackets and failing to win a medal at the Olympics and being deported from Australia?
  1. Has Nole been, as some have suggested, on a “self-made journey to martyrdom?”
  1. Writer Howard Bryant suggested that Novak represented “a symbol of Western aggressions against his people…For Serbs and millions of others worldwide who have felt the First World looking down its privileged noses at their people, the great Djokovic is their avenger.” So how big a hero’s welcome will Novak get in Serbia?
  1. Will Piers Morgan always have his say? After Emma Raducanu withdrew from a Wimbledon match the provocative and unsparing British broadcaster fueled a controversy when he claimed that she couldn’t handle the pressure and “quit when she was losing badly. Not brave. Just a shame.” As for Novak, he said, “COVID rule cheat, immigration form liar, and anti-vaxxer icon Novak Djokovic loses final appeal against deportation and will be thrown out of…Good.”
  1. In the end what player will benefit the most from Nole’s deportation? And how will it impact the GOAT debate if Rafa wins in Melbourne for the first time since 2009 and goes ahead of Djokovic and Federer with 21 Slams?
  1. Will the Novak incident impact how Australia treats refugees?
  1. In the end, will the Australian Open be remembered for its winners or for the Djokovic debacle?
  1. At times like this, is gallows humor okay? Some suggested that Djokovic would have taken the vaccine if it were gluten free. Others joked that Federer used COVID to prevent Novak from winning his 21st Slam.
  1. Is Novak’s coach Goran Ivanisevic suffering deja vu?  In 2001 he flew from Croatia to Australia, but lost in the first round of qualifying and didn’t get to play a single main draw match. And this year, of course, he didn’t get to coach a single match. 
  1. “L’Affaire Djokovic” or NO-VAX GATE? What’s the best name for the Djokovic debacle? 
  1. Will Novak’s departure impact this year’s Aussie Open winner? Tweeter Avi Yemini contended, “Whoever wins the #AusOpen this year will always know they came in second.” Others have bristled at that idea.
  1. In terms of accountability, transparency and truth-telling, what will Nole learn from all this?
  1. And last but not least, what will we learn from all this?
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1 COMMENT

  1. Love your writing! When did vaccine hesitancy = antivax? In the Abu Dhabi tournament ( mandatory vax) quite a few got Covid? How do we proceed with our lives knowing that vaccines are not the answer to this; if it offers personal protection, but doesn’t majorly limit the spread, can’t be touted as a step for the common good….

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