Novak Djokovic: ‘The media has picked on me big time’

’All of a sudden I became the villain of the world which is obviously a terrible position to be in’

Novak Djokovic says he felt like ”the villain of the world” during the storm that surrounded his deportation from Australia before last year’s Australian Open. The nine-time champion at Melbourne Park was deported from the country last January after his visa was cancelled over his Covid vaccination status.

A three-year ban from Australia initially accompanied that decision but that was overturned in November and the Serb is preparing for this year’s tournament, which begins on Monday.

”I was really drawn into a storm in media worldwide that was related to anything to do with Covid and the vaccine,” he told 9News Melbourne. “All of a sudden I became the villain of the world which is obviously a terrible position to be in as an athlete.”

At the time Serbia’s prime minister, Ana Brnabic, called the decision to cancel the visa “scandalous”, while the ATP, the governing body of men’s tennis, said the situation was “a deeply regrettable series of events”.


“Everything got out of hand and then I was labelled as this or that,” said Djokovic. “It was so big in the media that I just could not fight that, I didn’t even want to get into that. I wanted to stay here and play tennis, but at some point with the amount of craziness going around I just wanted to get out and go back home.”

In the interview Djokovic pointed the finger at journalists. “The media has picked on me big time for several months and not in a positive note,” the world No 5 said, “so that has created a lot of disturbance to my brand and to me personally and people around me.”

Meanwhile, the 35-year-old cut short a practice match in Melbourne with Daniil Medvedev short after suffering with a hamstring problem on Wednesday. “I just want to avoid any bigger scares before the Australian Open,” he said. “I just felt it pulling and I didn’t want to risk anything worse.” – Guardian