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Federer & Nadal needed a bad guy & they got Novak Djokovic, who has a reputation for being the boy who cried wolf: Sam Groth

Novak Djokovic
Novak Djokovic
Modified 16 Feb 2021

Sam Groth recently penned an article about Novak Djokovic, questioning the Serb's behavior and public persona. According to Groth, Djokovic's actions have severely damaged his image, making him a 'villain' in comparison to Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.

Groth is a former World No. 53 who found plenty of success as a doubles player, having reached the 2014 French Open semifinals. The 33-year-old has now taken up the role of a commentator, and he also often shares his thoughts about the sport in print media.

In his recent article, Sam Groth compared Novak Djokovic’s popularity with that of Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. The Aussie believes that even though Djokovic will likely surpass all their tennis records, he will never be as loved as the Spaniard or the Swiss.

"He’s playing alongside two of the most popular and phenomenal tennis talents the sport has ever known," Groth wrote. "And while he is more than likely going to overtake Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal for most Grand Slam titles ever won, he will never attract the universal support they do. I feel for him in that respect. Every great era needs a villain. And he’s become just that."
Sam Groth
Sam Groth

The Australian also believes that Novak Djokovic wouldn’t have faced such a hard time if he hadn't been playing at the same time as Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer.

"In any other era, I don’t think it would be this way," Groth continued. "But Federer and Nadal needed a bad guy, and they got Djokovic."

Moving on to Novak Djokovic’s recent injury-related controversy, Groth claimed that the World No. 1's history of exaggering his injuries will always haunt him. According to the Aussie, Djokovic’s critics don’t deride the Serb for no reason; Groth opined that Djokovic has, over time, built a reputation as someone who lies for no apparent reason.

"He (Novak Djokovic) wants his legacy to be the greatest player of all time, and for all this controversy to be forgotten," Groth remarked. "But he's doing himself no favors in that regard. So when he appears to be an innocent victim of circumstance, his past colors people's views."
"Injuries usually demand sympathy rather than suspicion," the Aussie added. "This hasn’t just come out of nowhere; people don’t question the severity of your injury for no reason. Djokovic has a reputation for being the boy who cried wolf."

This is not the first time that Novak Djokovic has found himself in Sam Groth’s crosshairs. The Australian had also slammed Djokovic's quarantine-related requests to Tennis Australia.

Novak Djokovic and Nick Kyrgios have a few things in common: Sam Groth

Sam Groth has likened Novak Djokovic with Nick Kyrgios.
Sam Groth has likened Novak Djokovic with Nick Kyrgios.

Novak Djokovic and Nick Kyrgios may be at constant loggerheads with each other, but Sam Groth reckons the two have a lot more in common than their relationship suggests.

According to Groth, Kyrgios and Djokovic have an uncanny ability to antagonize people. However, the Aussie also claimed that there is a difference in how each of them reacts to criticism.

"They polarize their audiences and cop criticism for anything and everything they do," Groth wrote. "They are always going to be subjected to greater scrutiny than their peers. But the heat they draw is for different reasons ... and they both handle it in very different ways."
"Kyrgios knows he’s not everyone’s cup of tea," the Aussie added. "He is who he is, and if you don’t like it, too bad. Djokovic, however, tries to give the impression he doesn’t care about not being liked — but I’m not convinced that’s true."
Published 16 Feb 2021, 17:14 IST
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