Despite being heavily criticized for his role in the Adria Tour fiasco (which ended up becoming a COVID-19 hotspot), Novak Djokovic remains a much loved figure in the Balkan region. The respect and adulation he receives from fans in Serbia and its neighboring countries help Djokovic shake off any "negative energy" he gets from the world media.
Known to be a problem-solver on the court, Novak Djokovic has also been hailed as a problem-solver off of it. He has brought together people of different Balkan countries together by helping them overcome their differences.
Recently, the people in Bosnia commemorated the World No. 1 with an 8-metre high mural of his image in the town of Tronovo. If that wasn't enough, Novak Djokovic has now also been hailed in the literary world - through a heartfelt essay penned by Serbian poet Djordjo Sladoje.
Recipient of the highly sought-after "Exceptional Vuk's Award", the 66-year-old paid rich tribute to Novak Djokovic in the essay that's been published on the CCNS website, where he narrated the Serb's humble beginnings.
"Novak Djokovic showed an unusual tennis gift very early, which the experts noticed in time and suggested to his parents to support him in every way. However, that was not easy at all, because the Djokovics, fleeing from Kosovo and Metohija to Kopaonik, barely survived the horrors of the 1990s, which also marked Novak's childhood," Sladoje wrote.
"However, in spite of everything, they found the strength and found a way to put themselves in the service of Novak Djokovic's talent," he added.
Sladoje then went on to talk about how Djokovic has been fully self-aware ever since he burst on to the scene. He mentioned that the World No. 1 has given the world numerous reasons to celebrate, but that some are too envious by his talent and success to recognize that.
"From the very beginning, Novak Djokovic showed, in addition to his innate talent, a sense for its realization, which is a very rare trait among Serbs. Hence, it is not surprising that Novak progressed very quickly in every respect. Since entering the big tennis scene, Djokovic has not stopped exciting the world, not only the sports public. It delights some and irritates others and often leads to despair and anger."
Sladoje then went on to assert that the 2020 Australian Open champion is the best tennis player in the world right now, with a good chance of becoming the greatest in the history of tennis as well. He continued his reverence for Novak Djokovic by showering almost god-like epithets on him:
"Novak Djokovic played with the greatest and won for all the defeated, made the afflicted happy, comforted the inconsolable, raised the faint, restored hope to the hopeless… As a tennis player he grew in duels with great tennis players Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. According to experts, they are constantly competing to introduce the tennis game to a higher dimension, which will remain unattainable for many."
Despite Novak Djokovic having won 17 Grand Slams in a career where he has regularly come out on top against tennis greats like Federer and Nadal, the Serb has still faced difficulty in finding undivided support from the tennis community - as pointed out by the writer.
The world can't stand the fact that someone like Novak Djokovic is on its throne: Sladoje
Sladoje also made it a point to pan the media for their supposedly biased coverage of Novak Djokovic, saying that his success didn't sit well with their agendas.
"Much of the world's public opinion cannot stand the fact that a member of the notorious people is on the world throne. This does not fit into the political interests of the big ones, and it is not seen by managers, journalists or ordinary viewers. Hence, in part, this obvious resistance, animosity and even open, often orchestrated hatred that persistently accompanies Novak's successes," Sladoje said.
The Serbian writer then explained how Djokovic had organized Adria Tour with purely noble intentions. Novak Djokovic was one among several tennis players and coaches to test positive for COVID-19 during the Serb's exhibition - but Sladoje believes the ruckus at Zadar was nothing but an accident.
"Another of Novak Djokovic's noble actions was subjected to a dubious, scandalous and selfish act - as if he had caused the crown and scattered it all over the world. It should be said that this is not Novak's only humanitarian action (organizing Adria Tour). As a UNESCO ambassador, using his planetary fame and influence, he wholeheartedly helps poor children around the world, and through his foundation he works on the renovation and construction of children's institutions in underdeveloped parts of Serbia," the 66-year-old said.Published 31 Jul 2020, 16:51 IST