Srdjan Djokovic, the father of World No. 1 Novak Djokovic, recently claimed that his son is not just the best tennis player in the world right now, but also the best athlete across all sports.
Novak Djokovic won his 18th Grand Slam singles title at the Australian Open on Sunday. The win took him a step closer to the all-time men's Grand Slam record of 20, currently held jointly by Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.
The Djokovic clan did not travel to Australia for the year's first Major, due to the pandemic and the restrictions on support staff allowed. However, the family was cheering wholeheartedly for the 33-year-old from back home.
In an interview with Serbian newspaper Kurir, Srdjan Djokovic asserted that the Australian Open win is further evidence of his son's on-court greatness.
"This is proof that nothing is impossible," Srdjan Djokovic said. "I have told that story several times, but I will repeat it, because we raised Novak in the most difficult period in Serbia."
"He is a hard worker, a representative of his people in the world, a patriot, and the best athlete by far in the world; not just tennis player, but athlete," Srdjan continued. "Because he has been declared the best athlete 4 times in the last 10 years."
While tennis fans and experts are divided on who among the Big 3 will end up with the most Slams, for Srdjan Djokovic the answer is crystal clear. Djokovic Sr. is also confident that his son will be able to translate his success as a tennis professional to his future endeavors post-retirement.
"In the next year, a year and a half, he will be the best in all statistical parameters," Srdjan Djokovic went on. "And when he retires, whatever he does, he will be just as successful as he is in tennis."
(The quotes from Srdjan Djokovic's interview with Kurir have been translated using Google Translate).
China, India, Russia, Brazil, Africa, he is a deity everywhere: Srdjan on Novak Djokovic's strong fan base outside the Western Hemisphere
During his recent Australian Open campaign Novak Djokovic continued to receive criticism from the media for his words and actions.
First, the letter he sent to Tennis Australia asking for relaxation of the hard quarantine earned the ire of local journalists. Later, his comments that he may have suffered a muscle tear during his third round match, which he confirmed after the final on Sunday, attracted plenty of skepticism in the press.
In response to this, Srdjan Djokovic asserted that his son enjoys unparalleled support from fans across the world, outside of the Western Hemisphere.
"All normal people in the world love him," Novak Djokovic's father said. "Have you ever wondered why he plays best in China? He feels love there, real love, they really love him there. He said 'Dad, Bata Zivojinovic (actor and politician from the same region) and I are the most famous people in China'."
"They love him there without hesitation, what he has not experienced in the West, nor will he ever experience," Srdjan added. "They (the Westerners) think that only they exist, but they are only one fifth of the world. China, India, Russia, Brazil, Africa, he is a deity everywhere."
Srdjan believes that Novak Djokovic is considered by Serbians to be one of their own. He went on to claim that his son's success on the international arena has brought hope and cheer to many senior Serbians in their old age, including his own late father.
"I think that Novak Djokovic showed with his results, his behavior, his attitude towards everyone, that we (Serbians) are part of a great civilization," Novak Djokovic's father said. "He is a member of every normal family in this country, and that forms about 97% of the population."
"He extended the life of my late father for several years," Srdjan added. "Although he was seriously ill, he could hardly wait for his matches and that extended his life for several years. So it is with many of my friends who have told me that it is the same in their house."