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People fear that Novak Djokovic will become the best in history, they don't want him to overtake Federer: Former Yugoslav coach

Novak Djokovic during the 2020 French Open final
Novak Djokovic during the 2020 French Open final
Modified 20 Oct 2020, 15:15 IST

Radmilo Armenulic, the former captain of the Yugoslav Davis Cup team, believes that Novak Djokovic will bounce back after his defeat to Rafael Nadal in the final of the French Open. According to Armenulic, Novak Djokovic will overtake rivals Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal for the most Grand Slams in men's tennis history, despite the fact that many don't want him to.

The 80-year-old, who was a player himself a few decades ago, was speaking in an interview with the Alo website. Armenulic was asked about Novak Djokovic overtaking his two rivals and also his views on the Serb's default at the US Open, to which he responded with remarkable forthrightness.

"He will for sure," Armenulic said. "The one at the US Open is a scandal. I’ve looked at dozens of worse cases for which players haven’t even been warned, let alone punished (with regards to the default)."
"People want Roger Federer to remain first, and don't want Novak Djokovic to overtake him," he added. "It is surprising to me that none of Djokovic's colleagues commented after the disqualification. This is not correct. Novak is a gentleman, he immediately admitted his mistake. I have never heard him criticize Roger and Rafa in his statements, but they have spoken against him."

Novak Djokovic was too preoccupied with chasing history in the French Open final: Radmilo Armenulic

Runner-up Novak Djokovic and winner Rafael Nadal after the 2020 French Open final
Runner-up Novak Djokovic and winner Rafael Nadal after the 2020 French Open final

Armenulic is considered something of a legend in eastern Europe, having coached the likes of Goran Ivanisevic in the 80s. He has also been the longest serving Davis Cup captain in Yugoslav and Serbian history.

In the interview, the Belgrade native also gave his opinion on the French Open final - in which Rafael Nadal completely dominated Novak Djokovic. The Spaniard won the match in straight sets to equal Roger Federer at 20 Slams, while Djokovic remains at 17.

Armenulic believes the desire to catch up to Federer and Nadal was weighing on Djokovic's mind during the final, which is why he played 'unusually'.

"The problem is when you chase records, then you are too occupied," Armenulic said. "Novak entered the finals with Rafa burdened. He started playing unusually. He shortened the points, he didn't build them. That never happened to Djokovic earlier. But nothing terrible. I think he will come back stronger. People fear that he will become the best in history."

Looking ahead to the upcoming Grand Slam in Australia, Armenulic claimed that if the Australian Open does go ahead in January, it would be a great chance for Novak Djokovic to win his 18th Grand Slam and also overtake Federer in the record for most weeks at No. 1.

"There are some reports that the Grand Slam may not be played in Australia, which is Novak's great chance for a 18th Grand Slam title," Armenulic said. "If he wins, it would completely return him in the race (for most Grand Slams). If the tournament still takes place, which we all hope for, the least Novak will do is settle with Federer in the number of weeks at the top of the ATP list."
"Nole is already preparing for such a scenario, I see that he will play in Vienna, (hopefully) win that tournament and calmly wait for the end of the season. I am sure that Novak has already recovered from the defeat (in Paris)," he added.
Published 20 Oct 2020, 15:15 IST
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