Novak Djokovic’s wild world from anti-vax stance to smashing rackets

Novak Djokovic might be ATP world number one – but that’s not to he hasn't embodied himself a fair amount of bizarre stories.

His sheer determination as an athlete mixed with his wild personality – and eccentric behavior – makes for a real catalogue of faux pas in the past few years.

Most recently his failed venture to Australia, which we will touch on in great detail later.

Indeed, where ever Djokovic goes, chaos duly follows.

As he remains locked up in a refugee detention hotel in Melbourne waiting for the outcome of his case (with a hearing set for Monday), we thought we’d take a look at some of his most bizarre exploits.

In no particular order, the Daily Star Sport takes you on a tour of the wild world of Djokovic.

The Pandemic Tour

In the midst of a global pandemic in June 2020, Djokovic decided to host an exhibition tournament.

The Adria Tour made no effort to apply social distancing measures or the like, and ultimately led to the tennis star contracting the virus, among other stars.

Speaking in June, Djokovic said: “I am so deeply sorry our tournament has caused harm.

“Everything the organisers and I did the past month, we did with a pure heart and sincere intentions.

“We believed that the tournament met all health protocols and the health of our region seemed in good condition to finally unite people for philanthropic reasons.

“We were wrong and it was too soon. I can't express how sorry I am for this and every case of infection.”

However, the remorseful words were soon swiped aside as the Serb claimed there had been a witchhunt against him and that he had, actually, acted in good faith by organising the tournament.

Racket smash in Australia

At last year’s Australian Open, Djokovic reacted furiously after he lost a deuce point at 3-1 in the third, petulantly smashing his racket on the ground.

The 34-year–old walloped his equipment into the court some five times in total, with remnants of racket spewing out onto the surface.

The Serb then went and unashamedly asked for a ball girl to clean up the mess.

Djokovic, however, refound his form and took the third and fourth set after winning a tie-break 8-6 to secure a 6-7, 6-2, 6-4, 7-6 win.

“When I broke that racket, things started to shift for me in a positive direction,” Djokovic said.

Some real cosmic stuff, there, Djokovic.

Far from magnanimous at Monte Carlo

It would eventually be another win for the Serb – but he had a hard time beating Philipp Kohlschreiber.

In April 2019, Djokovic was maddened after he saw his serve broken by the veteran, so, naturally, he started smashing the clay with his racket.

He was handed an official warning and but the fury continued. He chased a wide ball and subsequently decided to lob his racket into the crowd.

No one was injured, and he went on to win 6-3, 4-6, 6-3 in the second-round match.

Djokovic disqualified

Probably the most infamous of all incidents.

In September 2020, the world no1 angrily whacked a ball and it hit a line judge on the throat.

He was booted out of Flushing Meadows for hitting Laura Clark. After initially stating the claim that she wasn’t properly injured, Djokovic walked off.

“She doesn't have to go to the hospital for this,” he said.

“You're going to choose a default in this situation? My career, Grand Slam, centre stage?”

Djokovic, who was later fined his £190,000 prize money, wrote on social media afterwards: “This whole situation has left me really sad and empty. I checked on the linesperson and the tournament told me that thank God she is feeling ok.

“I'm extremely sorry to have caused her such stress. So unintended. So wrong. I'm not disclosing her name to respect her privacy.”

Djokovic vs the world

In the ATP Cup in January 2020, Djokovic wasn’t happy with a decision made by chair umpire Mohamed Lahyani. He wanted to challenge a call but wasn’t allowed.

During his contest with Kevin Anderson, the crowd began to make noise during some rallies, and at 3-2 during a break, Djokovic went over to the umpire.

He argued with Lahyani and then his fume spilled to the crowd. He swiped at them with his racket and whacked a ball to the stadium roof in anger.

'It was in the heat of the moment,” he said after. “I'm sorry if I offended anyone.”

Novax Djokovic

Djokovic’s arrival in Australia for the Open was met with fury from nationals, who had endured some of the worst restrictions in the world.

The tournament requires all players and staff to be vaccinated or at least have an exemption granted. The reigning Australian Open champion claimed he falls into the latter.

Djokovic, who last year said he was "opposed to vaccination", arrived in Australia but found himself interrogated by border control. It was found out that the type of visa his team applied for does not allow medical exemptions for the unvaccinated.

He faced deportation but his legal team challenged this. A court hearing on Monday will decide his fate.

Scott Morrison, Australia’s prime minister, tweeted: “Mr Djokovic’s visa has been cancelled. Rules are rules, especially when it comes to our borders.

“No one is above these rules. Our strong border policies have been critical to Australia having one of the lowest death rates in the world from COVID, we are continuing to be vigilant.”

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