Our Friend Nole

Nowak Djokovic, double winner of Roland-Garros (source: Getty Images)

          The Australian health, administrative, political and sports imbroglio has just come to an end. The outcome, which deprives the current world number one tennis player to take part, in a way in his garden, to a tournament he has already won nine times and in case of victory to become the player having won the largest number of Grand Slam competitions in the history of tennis, has not however brought all the necessary clarifications. The case, whose dimension is commensurate with the globalization of the world, is not yet in all its components over.

It is not a question of denying the sometimes rough and stubborn side of the personality of this immense champion who undoubtedly has deep personal, family and national roots and may have been accentuated by the star system. There is also no question of advocating on behalf of those who oppose vaccination against the pandemic. Novak Djokovic has never done this himself and the question of his vaccination status was even the best-kept mystery until his recent arrival in Australia. 

However, we cannot say with certainty that the champion wanted to hide and cheat. He would never have come to Melbourne if Tennis Australia, which organizes the Australian Open and the state of Victoria where it is held, had not judged that he fulfilled the conditions with regard to the obligations for the unvaccinated. The aftermath was a battle that became increasingly opaque over the course of the days, against the backdrop of the fluctuations in Australian public opinion, the campaign for the Australian general election, the hesitations of a Conservative government in difficulty and a worldwide echo chamber.

The end of the crisis has not been yet reached. The consequences could be serious for Novak Djokovic. On a human level, one can imagine that, in addition to his two detentions, the fact of being designated to popular vindiction must not have been easy to bear for him and his family. From a sporting point of view, the definitive cancellation of his visa could also mean a three-year ban on his stay in the country, effectively putting an end, given his age, to his ambitions on hard court in Australia. As the King of Melbourne is now absent, the tournament has been somewhat decapitated and it will take all the talent of his epigones to restore the prestige of the event.

But the most important thing will be to find or for many to find out who Novak Djokovic really is. Very few tennis players at this year’s Australian Open, probably somewhat overwhelmed by the controversy, have dared or wanted to support him. Beside the Australian Kyrgos and a few others including Andy Murray mezzo voce, the French woman Alizé Cornet, whose temperament is known, made an exception by recalling for example that Novak Djokovic was the one who had always supported other players, especially the less well-ranked, especially during the coronavirus.

At Roland-Garros, in a final lost in 2015 against Stan Wawrinka, Novak Djokovic had received the most incredible and endless standing ovation ever given even to a winner of the French Open. The French public, who saw the champion suffer for so many years on the clay to get his Grail, in addition perhaps to the feelings that Serbia has always inspired in France, showed him his warm encouragement. In these circumstances, the rough but gold-hearted champion is more than ever in Paris our friend Nole, how we like to call him affectionately . 

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