Novak Djokovic Says War-Torn Past Helped Him ‘to Develop a Thicker Skin’ to Withstand Criticism




World No.1 Novak Djokovic has had a roller coaster 2020 season. It has been marked by several on-court success but it is his controversies that have made the headlines. From the Adria Tour debacle to the formation of PTPA, Djokovic has dealt with it all.

In an interview prior to the ATP Finals, Djokovic spoke about controversies and how his childhood has made him stand strong against them.

“I kind of grew up in adversity when you think about it. Growing up in a war-torn country during the Nineties. So, I got accustomed to that. In my case, it did help me to develop a thicker skin, to be able to prove myself even more.”

Novak Djokovic at French Open 2020
Novak Djokovic at French Open 2020. REUTERS/Christian Hartmann

During the nineties, the mega country of Yugoslavia was going through several conflicts that led to its split into various countries. Djokovic spent his childhood during this time and that was a learning curve for the Serbian in developing resistance towards controversies and adversaries.

Novak Djokovic on the criticism he received for PTPA

Regarding his latest decision of creating the new players’ association PTPA, Djokovic said that he respects all the criticism and he does whatever seems right to him.

“I respect when someone has a different opinion and expresses that publicly, say the players’ association, the PTPA. I found myself being criticized a lot, but I do what my heart tells me.”

Novak Djokovic
Novak Djokovic, currently ranked world number one tennis player, speaks during a news conference. REUTERS/Marko Djurica

Further, he clarified that he doesn’t shy away from controversies because he is honest and transparent.

“Sure, everyone makes mistakes, I have flaws as everybody else, but I don’t have an issue being honest and transparent.”

Why was 2020 season controversial for Djokovic?

To give a brief recap, during the tennis lockdown Djokovic held a charity tour named Adria Tour. The tour was moving across the Balkans, and it seriously lacked the basic safety precautions against coronavirus. This resulted in four players including Djokovic to contract the virus and the tour was halted abruptly.

Novak Djokovic at US Open 2020
Novak Djokovic tends to a linesperson who was struck with a ball by Djokovic at 2020 U.S. Open. Credit: Danielle Parhizkaran-USA TODAY Sports

Then came the US Open 2020, where during his fourth-round match Djokovic accidentally hit the line judge with a spare ball. This resulted in Djokovic’s disqualification from the Grand Slam.

And then Djokovic formed the PTPA. He received a lot of flak for created the new association during the pandemic crisis. Many criticized him for dividing players instead of uniting them. But all these controversies have unfazed the World No.1.

With the ATP Finals still to go, Djokovic has already confirmed a record sixth year-end World No.1. And even with the controversies, it has been a record-breaking year for the Serbian.

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