Novak Djokovic has faced a lot of criticism over the ill-fated Adria Tour. Many held him responsible for the fiasco that the event turned into when four players - including Djokovic himself - tested positive for COVID-19.
However, Djokovic has also been defended by plenty of people back home in Serbia, and one of those people is Zdenko Zagar - his maternal grandfather.
Zagar had earlier torn into Novak Djokovic’s detractors by claiming they were jealous of his grandson’s achievements. Now he has also elaborated upon Djokovic's health and diet, while revealing that he gives the World No. 1 'positive' criticism from time to time.
I was told to stop criticizing Novak Djokovic: Zdenko Zagar
Family members are often said to be the best critics for any individual, and the same applies for 17-time Grand Slam champion Novak Djokovic. While his parents and wife are always seen vociferously supporting him during matches and also off the court, his grandfather has a different approach.
“Sometimes I allow myself to criticize his game but I was told to stop," Zagar said. "Not Novak, but the rest of the family. They say I always have to be positive and cheer him up, but I think the criticism can also be positive.”
Novak Djokovic is often asked about the lack of support he receives during big matches. When Djokovic takes on someone like Rafael Nadal or Roger Federer, he is usually painted as the villain by the partisan crowd at the stadium.
But the Serb almost always channels that disapproval into something positive, producing his best when everything seems to be against him. His grandfather has probably been trying to motivate him along the same lines, and so far it's working.
Novak Djokovic eats only fruits and vegetables: Zdenko Zagar
Novak Djokovic is arguably the fittest player on tour. He has the endurance and strength to last several five-setters one after the other, without letting his play suffer in the slightest.
At last year’s Wimbledon Djokovic fought hard for nearly five long hours to overcome a spirited Roger Federer, even saving a couple of Championship points along the way. The Serb's physical attributes perfectly complement his mental tenacity, which is why he is so hard to beat.
However, his grandfather believes that Djokovic is too thin, and that he makes even normal-sized people look fat in comparison.
“He’s really skinny," Zdenko Zagar said. "When I take his clothes, I cannot wear them. This t-shirt is too big for him but good for me. And I’m not that fat!
A few years ago the 17-time Grand Slam champion removed gluten from his diet, which helped him improve his stamina. Later he even cut out all forms of meat, and his grandfather claims that is the reason he looks so skinny.
He doesn’t eat meats, only fruits and vegetables. But the tactics that work don’t need to be changed.”
Novak Djokovic is currently at the peak of his physical fitness, thanks to his diet and training regimen. As such, he would probably do well to go against his grandfather's advice in this instance.