Novak Djokovic apparently has no shame. He wants to win at all costs. And that is the difference between him and Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. The three players are neck-and-neck in the all-time grand slam race. The 34-year-old Novak Djokovic is the youngest of the three titans of tennis and is likely to surpass the other two, as he’s already done with weeks at world No.
1 and by winning all four slams twice. But it’s the disregard he’s shown for others—namely so many frontline workers and Australians who have suffered through the coronavirus pandemic—that has demonstrated the selfish attitude that has turned off so many tennis fans for years.
Anyone can behave selfishly, but it takes an exceptional person to exhibit humility and humanity despite being feted everywhere you go. It’s why fans love Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. It’s why the two of them have transcended the sport of tennis in terms of popularity.
It’s why their humble presence has grown the sport of tennis during their time. They have a way of putting things in perspective which Novak Djokovic seems to lack. It’s no wonder that while the world was finding out that the No.
1 men’s tennis player had exposed children to COVID at a ceremony last month, Nadal—who is fully vaccinated—took time away from practice to share wisdom with tennis kids in Australia.
Novak Djokovic’s visa was canceled for a second time on Friday, this time by the Australian Immigration Minister Alex Hawke, which also cited a three-year ban from the country.
Priceless wisdom from @RafaelNadal.
Anyone else would have been mortified by the kind of furor they had caused, where 83 percent of the country agrees with the hardline stance and feels the tennis star should be deported.
It’s not just a vaccine mandate issue anymore, either.
Since the first visa was canceled earlier in the week, more callous behavior has come to light, including exposing kids to COVID and journalists in two post-positive events. He also illegally entered Spain while declaring he hadn’t traveled or wasn’t planning to travel within the two weeks before his arrival in Melbourne (he is also now under investigation in Spain for this incident).
For all these events, Novak Djokovic has always managed to blame others or shrug off these deliberate choices as “human errors”. Imagine if everyone behaved that way without consequences? A choice in behavior was involved in these human errors, and “the buck stops here,” as U.S.
President Harry S. Truman said (on a plaque kept in his office) about personal responsibility.
And it’s personal responsibility that’s at issue here.
Novak Djokovic can break all the records of Federer’s and Nadal’s that he wants but why, no matter how far he goes without any regard for anything but his own selfish pursuits, he will never gain the same respect.
There are countless examples of Roger Federer’s gracious and sportsmanlike conduct that have made him an admired figure for decades.
I used to think you were a class act. You’re no Roger Federer, or Rafael Nadal. Just a privileged millionaire who doesn’t know when to take a bow. #DjokovicOut #Djokovic — Michael Sévigny (@sevigny_michael) January 10, 2022
Rafael Nadal, the same, a tennis player who is proud that he’s never once broken a racquet. Novak Djokovic’s temper tantrums have been well documented on court, with his lineswoman-hitting incident at the 2020 U.S.
Open probably the worst example.
Contrast that with how Nadal regards self-doubt as a strength of character, which he spoke to tennis journalist John Wertheim about during a 60 Minutes interview.
BREAKING: “Novak Djokovic, the No. 1 seed in the men’s draw, was disqualified from the U.S. Open after accidentally striking a lineswoman with a ball hit in frustration,” reports @nytimes
pic.twitter.com/wsVDKBa0nY — David Begnaud (@DavidBegnaud) September 6, 2020
At any given moment, Novak Djokovic had the opportunity to act differently while in Australia or leave the country if he was the only one playing with an exemption, as Martina Navratilova had recommended.
He choose to use his personal privilege and wealth to affect a favorable outcome for just himself.
Anyone can behave like a Novak Djokovic.
But the world is a better place thanks to individuals like Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer. The sad truth is that the Big 3 aren’t really the Big 3: they are the Big 2 and a very talented, misguided individual.