Marion Bartoli feels Novak Djokovic's image is "tarnished" only in France, says the man & the champion are not "confused" elsewhere in the world

Novak Djokovic in action at the 2021 Davis Cup Finals
Novak Djokovic in action at the 2021 Davis Cup Finals
Namit Kumar

Novak Djokovic had one of the best seasons of his career in 2021, winning three Majors and finishing the year as World No. 1 for a record seventh time. While the Serb may own many of the current records in men's tennis, he is not as popular among fans as his two great rivals, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.

The 34-year-old has been criticized in the past for his passionate outbursts on court. Some have even called him more egoistic than Federer and Nadal.

In a recent interview, former Wimbledon champion Marion Bartoli has claimed that outside of her home country of France, there are many tennis fans who appreciate Djokovic's greatness.

"It is only in France that the image of Novak Djokovic is so tarnished," she told WeLoveTennis. "Elsewhere in the world, we have understood that we should not confuse the champion that he is and the man who hides behind this armor that he wears during his matches."

The Frenchwoman understands Djokovic's antics may not be as liked as those of his big rivals since he arrived on the tennis scene at the peak of the Nadal-Federer rivalry. However, she insisted that the Serb's track record speaks for itself.

"However, I can understand that when he arrived against Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, it could have embarrassed people," Bartoli said. "But it is clear that he is there, there, that his track record is crazy, that he is breaking records and has had another incredible year."

On paper, Novak Djokovic is statistically superior to Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer

Novak Djokovic with his 7th year-end World No. 1 trophy
Novak Djokovic with his 7th year-end World No. 1 trophy

The debate about who is the greatest among Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal has spanned several years. The trio are currently tied at 20 Major titles apiece, and have divided fanbases across the world.

Following his remarkable 2021 season, Djokovic has edged ahead of his two rivals with some of the most important records in men's tennis.

The Serb ended the year as World No. 1 for a record-breaking seventh time this year. He also won the Paris Masters in October, overtaking Rafael Nadal for the all-time record of 37 Masters 1000 titles.

In March, the 34-year-old pipped Roger Federer (310 weeks) to reign at the No. 1 position for the maximum weeks. The Serb has since held the position for a total of 350 weeks, which is set to increase further.

Djokovic also has head-to-head advantage over both Federer (27-23) and Nadal (30-28).

The 34-year-old is also the only player in the Open Era to have won two titles at each of the four Grand Slam events, completing the feat at the 2021 Roland Garros.

Edited by Sudeshna Banerjee
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