Legendary Australian tennis player Mark Woodforde has revealed that he once denied Novak Djokovic a wild card to the Adelaide International. Woodforde, a 16-time Grand Slam doubles champion, was once co-director of the Adelaide tournament with Peter Johnston.
One day, a young Djokovic and his coach at the time, Dejan Popovic, walked into Woodford's office and asked for a main draw wildcard. After Djokovic walked into the office, he told Woodforde that he should really consider giving him a wild card because one day he would be number 1 and they would always remember having him in the tournament.
But Woodforde had to turn Djokovic away, claiming that the main draw wildcards were already reserved for Australian players. That year, Djokovic didn't even get a wild card for the Adelaide qualifier. But in 2007, Djokovic went all the way in his Adelaide main draw debut.
16 years later, Djokovic is back in Adelaide and is starting his season at the Adelaide International again. "I was running the event with Peter Johnston and we were sitting in the office the day before qualifying started and Dejan walked in with Novak Djokovic," Woodforde said on Nine's Wide World of Sports show.
"He introduced himself to Peter Johnston and me and said, 'I'm happy to be here in Adelaide and I was hoping you'd give me a wildcard.' Peter and I looked at each other, we had already dealt our wildcards in the main draw.
Novak said 'because one day I'm going to be number 1 in the world and I think this would help me get started' and we smiled and said 'unfortunately we don't have room' Dejan, who I've known for many years, said, "He really thinks he's going to be number 1," and we had to apologize and say we had to reserve some of the wildcards for the Aussies.
Djokovic beat Daniil Medvedev in the 2021 final
Novak Djokovic has an enviable record at the Australian Open, last enduring defeat at the tournament against Hyeon Chung in the fourth round in 2018. "I think Novak is the number one favourite for many, many reasons.
I mean, obviously, one reason is that he's won the Australian Open nine times. The surface is perfect for him," Wilander said. "When you play the way Novak plays, he doesn't have ups and downs. Everybody is not 100% ready in Australia.
Some are very ready, some are not ready, and he is always somewhat ready. Somewhat ready for him means he's the favourite," he added.
Greg Rusedski predicts how Novak Djokovic is going to do in Grand Slams in 2024
Serena Williams' ex-coach identifies what motivated Novak Djokovic to end up as GOAT
Andy Murray issues major statement on Novak Djokovic's incredible longevity
Novak Djokovic details change he wants in tennis' partnership with betting houses
Novak Djokovic recounts destroying Rafael Nadal in 2019 Australian Open final
Serena Williams' ex-coach makes prediction about Novak Djokovic after 24th Slam